The new generation of Insta-famous models, namely the likes of Kendall Jenner, Gigi and Bella Hadid, and Hailey Baldwin, has been the subject of much debate in the fashion industry of late. The row was most recently sparked when veteran supermodel Stephanie Seymour seemed to slam Kendall and Gigi, claiming in an interview with Vanity Fair that “supermodels are sort of a thing of the past. ‘Bitches of the moment’ would be a good title for them”. Kendall was quick to retort by publishing an open letter to Stephanie on her website, branding her comments ‘bullying’ and advising “If you’re going to tell us not to be in ‘your moment’, then don’t be in mine”.
Whatever your opinion on these girls, there’s no denying that they are the models of the moment – the squad have ruled Fashion Month so far, walking every major runway (Alexander Wang and Marc Jacobs to name just a couple), and commandeering more column inches than the designers themselves (Bella Hadid’s tumble at Michael Kors made headlines, while her sister Gigi and boyfriend Zayn’s appearance on the FROW at Versus Versace caused a bigger frenzy than the show itself, and who can forget the cultural appropriation row sparked when Gigi and Kendall rocked bright coloured dreadlocks for the Marc Jacobs show?).
The crux of the issue is that people don’t feel they’ve worked as hard as other models to gain their reputation, having come from varying levels of celebrity (their backgrounds include reality TV roots in Keeping Up With The Kardashians and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, as well as Hollywood’s Baldwin family). While Kendall often claims that her famous family ties have made it harder for her to be taken seriously by prestigious designers, it’s easy to see the cynics’ point – these girls have never been paid in clothes for their 20 hour days during Fashion Month, and they’ve certainly never bunked up in dorms in notorious shared ‘model houses’ while they try to get work.
But with a combined Instagram following of over 100 million across the four girls, it is really no surprise that designers are capitalising on their names, status and familiar faces to make sales, and that the foursome have coveted campaigns with the likes of Calvin Klein, Estee Lauder, Tommy Hilfiger, Guess and Topshop under their collective belts, despite their young ages (Gigi is the oldest at just 21). Despite their supermodel status, they’re somehow viewed as accessible and relatable, with girls across the world striving to replicate their off duty style – just this weekend, The Times dubbed Gigi the ‘smartphone supermodel’, musing on her ability to make young girls desperate to shop whatever she’s wearing, promoting, eating or doing.
It is platforms like social media that are becoming the main selling tools for brands nowadays (as discussed in yesterday’s post on fashion month and influencers), so it makes sense that such a focus is now placed on these Insta-stars – gone are the days when Kate Moss on a billboard could get nations talking. It seems that as the way brands sell evolves in line with digital technology, so in fact is the way we view celebrity.
– Ellen Kelly, Director and Co-Founder