How fashion is embracing influencer collabs to drive its purpose marketing

Having written about premium fashion embracing a new genre of brand ambassadors in its influencer marketing – namely athletes, K-Pop stars, and fashion-forward content creators – it’s also intriguing to see how the industry is using them to drive a purpose agenda.

What is purpose-driven marketing?

Purpose driven-marketing “is a strategy used by an organisation to centre its external communications efforts around a social cause that aligns with its core values”.

In the fashion world, this approach has become increasingly vital. Affluent consumers are prioritising ethics over aesthetics and choosing to buy from brands which are taking tangible, positive actions for people and the environment, and who strive to make a positive impact on the world.

Social issues and Fashion

Fashion and the environment

One of the major social issues the fashion industry is eager to address is climate change and environmental sustainability. Fashion’s reputation as a polluter and contributor to environmental degradation is now well-documented and brands are under mounting pressure – especially from millennials and GenZ – to address their environmental impact.

Greenwashing, where companies falsely claim to be eco-friendly, has prompted the need for authenticity and transparency in sustainability efforts.

Fashion and racism, diversity, and inclusion

Another critical issue is racism, diversity, and inclusion. The fashion industry has faced criticism for its lack of diversity and cultural insensitivity, and is attempting to address these issues by promoting inclusivity, equality, and representation.

Fashion and human rights

With the global nature of supply chains human and workers’ rights have often been neglected or disregarded entirely by the fashion industry.

Fashion, especially fast fashion, often sources products from countries with questionable labour conditions. But even without proper due diligence into suppliers and their practices any fashion brand can find themselves implicated in human rights abuses.

Ethical sourcing is another social cause which consumers are increasingly demanding.

How fashion is aligning its influencer marketing with its purpose-driven marketing

Brand ambassador and influencer marketing partnerships have proven to be a highly effective strategy in engaging audiences offering a direct channel to potential customers. The ambassador, be they an influencer, celebrity or athlete can embody a brand’s values and ethos, making them ideal for purpose-driven marketing.

When it comes to purpose-driven marketing, ambassadors can lend their credibility and influence to amplify a brand’s message. Influencers are often recognised for their passion and commitment to specific causes, and can integrate a brand’s purpose into their content.

If this alignment feels genuine to an audience, it can enhance the brand’s image and authenticity.

Although the sustainable clothing brand, Omnes, only started in 2020, it secured British actor Naomi Harris as its the face after she initially approached it.

“The brand’s ethos is perfectly aligned with mine – it’s size inclusive, affordable, sustainable and climate-positive too. So I approached them and said: ‘could I please design a capsule collection for you, which is specifically for the red carpet?’.”

When brand ambassador and purpose-driven marketing miss the mark

Game of Thrones actor Maisie Williams’ 2021 partnership with clothing retailer H&M was criticised after she became the brand’s global sustainability ambassador.

The actor announced she would join the brand to help front its campaign to use only recycled or other sustainability sourced materials by 2030 but sustainability experts and fans alike suggest the partnership was greenwashing.

Chinese fast fashion brand Shein sells extremely cheap clothing and has faced accusations of forced labour, human rights violations, stealing other designers’ work and selling clothing made with potentially hazardous materials. In order to rehabilitate its image it invited a set of influencers on an all-expenses-paid trip to Guangzhou, China in order to tour its factories. The aim was to show these content creators that those accusations were not true which they duly reported back on their social media channels.

However, many dubbed it a propaganda stunt and were sceptical of whether the influencers were being shown the truth. The story blew up in the news and some of the influencers, under pressure, ended their partnership with the brand.

In September this year, original supermodel Naomi Campbell, launched a collection with the fast fashion giant PrettyLittleThing which had a very mixed reception. While Campbell said the partnership was about elevating emerging design talent, critics were disappointed at how such a high profile figure would want to work with a brand that was notorious for unethical trade practices including workers pay and environmental issues.

Advice for purpose-driven marketing partnerships

Before embarking on purpose-driven marketing campaigns it’s worth having a clear understanding of your own brand’s values and ethics – and limitations. This clarity will not only guide your choice of social causes and influencers but also be realistic about your brand’s efforts and progress in addressing social issues. Consumers appreciate honesty and transparency.

And of course choosing the right influencers and celebrities whose values align with your brand’s mission is important for authenticity – and the key to purpose-driven marketing.

If you’re looking to make informed choices when selecting brand ambassadors, InsightX can provide the guidance you need to align your brand with your values. To find out more about how we can help you do this and much more, please contact

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