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The Met Gala, like Fashion Week, is officially for the masses – WWD

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New York Fashion Week peaked in influencer attendance in the era of the pandemic, culminating with a Met Gala designed for the masses.

Social media stars topped the front rows during fashion week, which returned to New York City on September 8 despite a raging COVID-19 Delta variant. The influencer presence at Fashion Week was a precursor to the Met Gala, which this year hosted a record number of stars from TikTok, YouTube and Instagram.

Fashion’s most exclusive event has made small strides in social media adoption over the past few years. In 2019, it hosted four influencers, whose presence sparked a backlash from social media users wondering if content creators should be received by the highest echelons of fashion. Those same questions were rekindled again this year, when the Met Gala invited nearly double the number of content creators.

People can scrutinize the participation of influencers in this historically elitist event, but the fact remains: influencers and the platforms they share content on are here to stay. Instagram was the official sponsor for 2021, YouTube bought a table, and while TikTok didn’t participate financially, a few of its top creators were in attendance as well.

Addison rae
Addison rae

“The definition and boundaries of fashion have changed so much over the past few years,” said Eva Chen, vice president of fashion and shopping at Instagram. “Fashion has been redefined, democratized, open, everyone has the right to their opinion. The ethics of this exhibition, [‘In America: A Lexicon of Fashion’]is having emerging designers with established designers. It was about having new voices and established voices. I think it reflects the spirit of why creators need to be a part of this as well. “

Instagram hosted Simu Liu, Kid Cudi, D-Nice, Saweetie, Megan Thee Stallion, Kerby Jean-Raymond, Christopher John Rogers, Precious Lee, Paloma Elsesser, Natalia Bryant, Brooklyn Beckham, Nicola Ann Peltz, Stuart Vevers, Evan Mock and Jordan Alexandre at his table.

As an official sponsor, Instagram has hosted a number of activations aimed at engaging audiences beyond the entire fashion industry. He organized a watch party, named official “meme-correspondent”, tested his new affiliate tool by making beauty looks purchasable on his platform and published collections of products available to purchase exclusively on the @themetstore account. .

Partnering with Vogue, YouTube hosted a shelf (her shopping tool) and at her table hosted Jackie Aina, Nikkie de Jager, Eugene Lee Yang, Addison Rae and Emma Chamberlain. Launchmetrics reported on September 17 that Chamberlain raked in $ 15.9 million in media impact value with a single Met Gala article.

YouTube fashion and beauty manager Derek Blasberg said the platform strategically chooses its guests based on their social impact throughout the pandemic.

“We’re always looking for people in the space adjacent to style,” Blasberg said, noting that YouTube had had a “conversation with Vogue who we see having some traction” in fashion before deciding who to invite.

“In quarantine, we saw new personalities appear in pop culture that transcended the way you used to see celebrities appear,” said Blasberg. “The democratization of style and voices in the style space is ultimately a good thing.”

A source associated with the Met Gala said this year’s event “honored and celebrated iconic and emerging American designers, as well as the return of NYFW and the city.”

“The list, which changes every year based on the theme of the gala, reflected exactly that: New York’s cooking, theater, arts and fashion communities were represented, as well as many young designers whose work has contributed. greatly influenced American fashion and culture, so of course that now includes creators of digital content, ”the source said.

Designers have proven during COVID-19 that they are critical to the bottom line of fashion and beauty companies. When physical stores were forced to close, brands turned to influencers to create compelling content and drive online sales.

The front rows at this year’s New York Fashion Week were more crowded with stars from TikTok, Instagram and YouTube than in any previous season. Designers, such as Rae and Dixie D’Amelio, who gained followers during the pandemic, quickly catapulted themselves among Fashion Week VIPs, and now, Met Gala attendees.

The question of why influencers are at the Met Gala is symptomatic of an industry-wide shift in fashion in general. Eric Dahan, CEO and co-founder of influencer marketing agency Open Influence, called social talent a “new generation of celebrities.”

“[It’s] the old worldview of what a celebrity is versus the new worldview, ”Dahan said. “The fashion industry is going through a big transformation. In high fashion, we’ve seen many brands looking to tap Gen Z, realizing that their primary audience is aging, realizing that the value of prestige and exclusivity based on wealth doesn’t really match the values ​​of Gen Z. and Millennials. It’s representative of a much bigger trend, and it feels like it’s really a big step forward this year with the gala.

Traditionally, the Met Gala has excluded people of various races, genders, and social and economic backgrounds, as has luxury fashion in general. Candace Marie Stewart, who owns a social media consulting agency, said it’s time to usher in new ways of thinking about who is invited to the Met Gala and why.

“I don’t want to stray from what is traditionally appropriate for the Met Gala, as it is already limited to who is that person who can be accepted and attend,” said Stewart. “It’s not that they don’t belong, it’s looking at who are the influencers that belong out there? What’s the addition they add to the Met Gala, versus just having a lot followers? ”

Jackie Aina met the 2021 gala
Kira Dior and Kenya Rucker styled Jackie Aina’s beauty look for her Met Gala debut.

The idea of ​​influencers and content creators is evolving faster than a lot of media, fashion and beauty can keep up with. Influencers who are successful in 2021 are often multi-cut. They are creative directors, Olympians, entrepreneurs, artists, investors and CEOs, among other titles.

Jackie Aina, for example, is an award-winning content creator, a leader in beauty’s evolution towards greater racial diversity, and the founder of a multi-million dollar business that she funded herself. . Last week, she became the first black content creator to attend the Met Gala.

For Instagram’s Chen, the negative stigma associated with influencers is outdated, as anyone who posts content on social media can technically be considered a content creator. Olympic diver Tom Daley, she said, is as followed on Instagram for his everyday life as he is for his publications in partnership with the brand.

“People have had the same conversation about influencers for over a decade,” Chen said. “The term ‘influencer’ has become a term that people use in a negative light, when in reality everyone is multifaceted.… This Met Gala that just happened, we can all agree that it’s was a truly diverse and festive event like no other event. The fact that we had [Olympic gymnast] Sunisa Lee, Theophilio, the young designer, alongside Tom Ford.

“It was special to have people from all walks of life and all walks of life together in one place,” she continued. “Everyone is influential in their own right. “

More from WWD.com:

Lewis Hamilton on organizing a table for emerging black designers at the Met Gala

AOC and Ella Emhoff face fashion politics after Met Gala

Can London Fashion Week come back alive?

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