LA social influencers steal the West Coast fashion spotlight

On top of the host fashion brands migrating to the coastal city, top modeling agencies IMG Models and Wilhelmina are turning to LA for their newest models who are millennial social media influencers and culture-makers.


LA-based Hailey Baldwin, who boasts 10.4 million Instagram followers, has been snapped up by IMG - Photo: Moschino


LA has been a historic driver of culture through film and entertainment industries and has now arrived on the map as a fashion city. Brands including Dior, Moschino and Rebecca Minkoff have shown in LA. Additionally, entire brands have been made out of Coachella style that captures the laid back LA look of the now iconic music festival.

The shift in modeling business to using influencers as models shows LA has officially arrived as a new fashion hub. LA-based Paris Jackson made the news recently signing a seven figure deal to be the new face of Calvin Klein. The Hilfiger brand has seen success through its collaboration with Gigi Hadid.

From the modeling industry perspective, Wilhelmina, Lions Model Management and IMG Models have all opened offices in LA. Traditionally New York based, the companies have moved to LA to be closer to influencers who authentically speak to millennials on social media.

New York-based model casting director James Scully has built his career working with brands including Tom Ford, Lanvin, Derek Lam, Carolina Herrera and Stella McCartney. He explained, "The Gigis and Kendalls are there, there's the LA health ideal that's so attractive to fashion right now, and the kids are Insta and entertainment ready."

As brands look to storytelling, the celebrity name factor draws instant recognition.

In addition to Paris Jackson, IMG also picked up LA-based Hailey Baldwin who is the daughter of actor Stephen and niece of Alec. Wilhelmina has added Oscar winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and Mel Gibson's son, Milo Gibson to its portfolio of models. Tyler Clinton, nephew of Bill and Hillary Clinton, also has been picked up as an influencer model.

Ivan Bart, President of IMG Models explained the rationale for the movement. He said, 'Fashion is now about storytelling; it's got to be a personality."

Whether they are musicians, actors, philanthropists or children of celebrities, the multi industry appeal of influencers is contagious. LA has always told glamorous stories that were suited for film. It is a natural evolution of fashion marketing to use LA based influencers in the new era of digital storytelling.

Mimi Yapor who heads IMG's LA office said, "LA is the epicenter of 'slashies' because there are so many different veins of entertainment."

The crossover can be seen as the fashion industry looks to more experiential marketing. As IMG model and activist Ashley Graham pointed out, models used to move to LA when their careers were ending. Now as she shoots her second season of America's Next Top Model, she notes the model's job is changing.


 

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