Last month, influencer Chiara Ferragni unveiled part of her team’s new office in Milan. The image she chose to share with her 12.9 million followers? A wall covered floor-to-ceiling with magazine covers she has graced over the course of her career.
To me, this brought up some interesting questions: why would a digital heavy hitter like Ferragni care about being on the cover of a magazine when she is (arguably) the most successful fashion influencer on the planet? Does she even appear on magazine covers anymore? Do any bloggers for that matter?
To answer this, let’s take a look at the golden age of influencers on magazine covers: mid-2015 to mid-2016. Ferragni herself became the first influencer to appear on the cover of a Vogue magazine (Spain) in April of 2015, Kristina Bazan, Helena Bordon, and Maria Guedes appeared on the cover of Vogue Portugal soon after. Nicole Warne was on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar Singapore & Malaysia in the same month and Camila Coelho dominated Brazil’s covers of Instyle and Women’s Health. But since then, the number of mega influencers appearing on magazine covers have dwindled.
That’s not to say that influencer’s relationships with magazines are totally dead, though. In smaller markets influencers are still gracing magazine covers pretty regularly (beauty influencers appeared on the cover of Irish magazine Stellar in March) and mega-bloggers still dip their toes into the magazine scene for features (Chriselle Lim just shot a feature for Vogue Taiwan that came out this week). Street style stars like Jenny Walton and Alyssa Coscarelli have photos featured in print publications pretty frequently, as well. But in general, we’re not seeing the same panic to include digital influencers in magazines as we did when the power of Instagram was being fully realized in 2015.
I think this is for a few reasons:
- Magazines know they can’t keep up with social media. By the time their single cover shoot hits newsstands, followers have already seen the behind-the-scenes and moved on. A big cover story doesn’t have the same punch it once did, especially when it’s about someone they can learn about for free online.
- Influencers don’t need magazines’ blessings anymore. In 2015, influencers needed a fashion institution to give them their stamp of approval to really be legitimate. But since then fashion influencers have become a regular part of the industry. They’re sitting front row at NYFW, collaborating with luxury fashion brands, and creating their own lines. Sure, it’s fun to be in a magazine, but it isn’t a necessary step in order for them to be taken seriously anymore.
As for Ferragni, I think her magazine covers offer something different: they show her as a trailblazer in the influencer industry. She was the first huge blogger to be accepted into the fashion community via magazines and to thrive as a result, so I see why she gives them a place of prominence. Her first Vogue cover touts her 3.3 million followers, which has now sky rocketed to 12.9 million. These days, she certainly doesn’t need magazines to lend her legitimacy, but they are a symbol of her early success.