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SMH: How wannabe ‘influencers’ are posting fake ads on IG just for clout

Social media is a beautiful tragedy.

Along with the global reach and ability to connect it has extended us, it’s also made us more susceptible to ego and hungry for status.

And, while yes, it places networking quite literally in the palm of our hands, it’s also cultivated an environment for dishonesty and made it okay to not be yourself.

The combination of having the ability to hide behind a screen and the marketability of likes and retweets has created a new-aged phenomenon that we’ve never seen before: people are advertising for free in the name of clout.

From kids in high school to middle-aged adults, everyone is either an ‘influencer’ or faking to be one these days. But what really makes somebody an ‘influencer’?

Well basically, it’s anyone who leverages their social media following to influence others; often times they’re paid to promote products and wear things. But it goes even deeper than that.

There are lifestyle influencers, sneaker influencers, make-up influencers, comedians, you name it. As long as you can demand and direct attention, you can acquire sponsors and brands.

You may even have a friend or know of someone who harkened on the trend.

They’ve figured out that by redefining their page’s aesthetic a little bit, archiving some old photos, and growing their follower base to quadruple digits, they can approach brands.

It’s just as 21-year-old model/actor/fashion creative, Luka Sabbat, told Complex in 2015:

“Being a kid there are only two ways you can go. You’re either an influencer or you’re influenced.”

And these days, they are willing to fake it until it happens.


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Help me find my shoes! I can’t find my shoes! #v1per #v1perized #robertocavalli @roberto_cavalli

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Aspiring influencers will stage a fake ad, buy the product and thank them for the collaboration and all, just for the aesthetic — just to be seen as one of them.

Mimicking the actual influencers, individuals are copping expensive products, investing in extra lighting and writing out the most perfect captions all in the name of clout, notoriety, and maybe eventually an actual sponsorship.

In an interview with The Atlantic, a 15-year-old lifestyle influencer named Allie spoke on how she knew a fellow teen beauty influencer who would brag about her sponsorship with Maybelline that wasn’t real and even admitted to faking a campaign with Voss water. She said,

“People pretend to have brand deals to seem cool. It’s a thing, like, I got this for free while all you losers are paying.”

I mean, when you look at all the upside and how easy it could be — and all you need is your phone — why wouldn’t they? After all, actual influencers make it look so easy.

Lukka Sabbat became a celebrity and makes big money off being an influencer and it’s all because he looks cool holding different company’s products.

He attended the Met Gala, has modeled for Evian billboards and paid partnerships with Diesel, 7 for All Mankind, Gillette, and Snapchat Spectacles. He’s even rumored to be dating a Kardashian.

There’s no wonder why people are willing to finesse their way into the same bag. Because who doesn’t have an iPhone? As you can imagine, however, the influx of wannabe influencers doing the utmost work for free has worsened rates for the actual influencers.

Suddenly, there are people doing work that would normally be profitable for a fraction of the price. Furthermore, companies are experiencing low-end quality placement for their products with little to no control over it.

As incentives for social media status continue, so will the people faking who they are to get what they want. In the age of the influencer, it could be hard to distinguish between who is real and fake; who is doing it for business and who is doing it just to look cool.

While everyone is busy showcasing their best life, the real creatives and entrepreneurs aren’t doing it for the clout, and you can always tell the clear difference there.

5 fashion creatives on IG who low key run your favorite rapper’s closet

Style is defined as “a distinctive appearance, typically determined by the principles according to which something is designed.” Style is, to say the least, one of the most important spheres for anyone to influence, not just on social media, but within society.

Moreover, if you are an influencer, style plays an important role in your image. As a social influencer, you must demonstrate your individuality and contemporary fashion taste on a regular basis.

High-end contemporary wear has always been expensive and out of reach for the average consumer, but now we have reached all-time highs, even for the “well known” luxury labels. It is no longer shocking to see sweatshirts go for more than $1,000.

The Vetements and Gucci “effect” of walking around looking like a sponsored NASCAR driver can be seen on every major red carpet showing, from Calabasas to Chelsea.

Furthermore, due to the social impact of Korean pop-stars and American rap-artists it has become acceptable to stunt in your $2,400 Gucci sweater (even though your favorite rapper has the item in 2 different colors ways, plus a limited released edition exclusively from Milan).

Our obsession with social media influencers has created a “flexing frenzy” raising the fashion bar higher and higher errday.

Today it’s all about jewelry, garments, and shoes. Due to this mass hysteria of constant stunting, it is important we seek out our true individualism and our inner sans stylist. Creating an image for ourselves allows us to take a breath of fresh air so that we can rest easy and recognize that not everyone has fallen victim to the “stunt-pill.”

In this era of flexing and brand backing, seeing true individualism without a stylist clout chasing is a breath of fresh air.

Jakob Hetzer

Double Runway @Prada.

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Jakob Hetzer has been on the Instagram style scene for the last several years. His popularity is a result of his self-titled brand established in 2014. Hetzer pulls inspiration from other notable labels and designers such as Rick Owens, Carol Christian Poell, and Number (N)ine, amongst others.

It is not difficult to imagine why Hetzer is making garments for the real fashionistas.


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His most recent public project, dubbed “TO THE RIVER”, is definitely one of the more interesting collections to hit the market in recent times, with a focus on making fully functional garments.

With this in mind, it makes sense that Hetzer wants to focus on “CLOTHING DEEPER THAN AESTHETIC. MORE THAN JUST GARMENTS.” (from Hamburg, Germany)


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@_artdealer_ is definitely the most low-key out of everyone on this list.

Hailing from South Korea, he has directed and edited videos for Keith Ape and has spent a lot of time working with Ape’s team to build a style to match the music they were making.

@_artdealer_  pulled up to America to flex with D Savage and Thouxanband on IG. After his run-in with the Soundcloud kings at the time, @_artdealer_ started working with A$AP Bari on his brand VLONE. He even helped conceptualize and the very first VLONE pop-up.

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Currently, @_artdealer_ has been working with Playboi Carti to build his image with contributions from merchandise to a production credit on Carti’s most recent work DIE LIT.

@_artdealer_ has one of the most stylized and consistent Instagram accounts, he has stuck to the early information age MS-Paint look for years. If you look at his early post and shows the vision has stayed the same. Be as punk as possible.

Matthew M Williams

Matthew M Williams has been creating for years now, everyone remembers the constant onslaught of double hashtags thrown over a truly amazing soundtrack of 5 mixes and 2 websites. #BEENTRILL# was the brand for the hot minute; Kanye wore it.

After working with Lady Gaga, Kanye West, and the late great Alexander McQueen it should not surprise anyone that Williams has taken what he learned flying around the world with Kanye West and started a brand.

Alyx is Matthews main focus other than his family who helps run the business. Without any major marketing or gross over advertising, Alyx has been making its rounds on social media influencers like Ian Connor and artists like A$AP Rocky. Nike has taken Matthews under their wing for a collection of training athletic wear that was presented on Williams Instagram.

Williams clearly has an amazing career ahead of him and we cannot wait to see what he has in store.



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Shane Gonzales started midnight studio in 2015, the brand has been worn on multiple occasions by the ever inspirational A$AP Rocky who found out about the brand though Ian Connor.

Gonzales has always taken inspiration from the nihilistic anarchy of the 1970’s with great success. Midnight Studios never felt commercially punk which is refreshing in this age of copycat-ism, or creative “appropriation” — in today’s vernacular.

Take Me By The Hand.

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Gonzales spoke about his inspiration in an old complex interview that covers his early stages of being a fashion brand,

“I got into punk music from old Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game soundtracks. The Sex Pistols were on the first couple ones, Dead Kennedy’s and the Adicts were on American Wasteland — all that stuff was on there. So that’s how I picked up on punk. That’s what I grew up on, those soundtracks.”

Francesco Ragazzi of Palm Angels

YOUNG. @whois.smookymargielaa

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Regazzi started as an intern at Moncler. He has a passion for photography, skateboarding, and is his daily grind — Palm Angels.

It started out as a coffee table book about California’s skateboard culture with a real focus on the skateboarding and less of the life.

Regazzi got Pharrell Williams onto the project, who would later contribute the foreword for the book. Regazzi Started the brand we know and love so much in 2014 and since then it has been worn by just about everybody.

💧💧💧 @offsetyrn

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Palm Angels is the current zeitgeist of streetwear. Regazzi was quick to share his opinion on the topic when asked about the meaning of streetwear within fashion in 2016.

“I think streetwear used to be a category, and now streetwear is fashion basically, there’s no difference anymore. Look at Balenciaga, [Demna Gvasalia] mixes a sequin dress with a down jacket, that’s not streetwear, that’s just how people dress.”