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The Rise of the Male Influencer: two perspectives

For the last couple of years, social media influencers have held the spotlight.
Some say that these achingly cool, influential people hold more power than celebrities – at least when it comes to social media marketing. Today, influencer marketing is an established and preferred strategy when it comes to social media. We reached out to menswear brand, NN07 and men’s fashion influencer, Aaron Wester to dig a little deeper.

So, Where are all the Male Influencers?

The industry has, for the most part, an unbalanced proportion of women in relation to men.

However, this now seems to be changing. According to statista.com,as of January 2019, male users exceed female users by 1% in several age categories. Suddenly, men’s fashion influencers are popping up and promoting their favorite men’s fashion, sharing their personal style and expressing themselves via their platform.

It’s hard to say why this sudden surge of male influencers on the fashion scene. Perhaps parallels can be drawn between current societal trends and growing acceptance. But one thing is clear – the more inclusive the influencer trade becomes, the more room for diversity there seems to be.

The male influencer market is still small enough to be considered niche, and sometimes you need a little inspiration on how to make it work for your brand. To help out, we have asked NN07, a men’s fashion brand, and the New York-based influencer Aaron Wester, more commonly known as the Modern Otter, to give us some valuable insight into what brands and influencers look for in each other to spark those magic collaborations.

 

The Importance of Authenticity, according to NN07

In Copenhagen, the menswear brand NN07, has built their brand around the Japanese concept of focusing on details. They identify with the idea of having no nationality and find inspiration within all cultures.

We had the privilege of speaking with Andreas Herring, the head of marketing at NN07, and enjoyed picking his brain on the influencer marketing world. For Andreas and NN07, influencer marketing needs to feel genuinely authentic to be interesting.

“When the influencer thing started, it was another way to reach the customer in a more authentic way. Because you know there’s a real person sharing their real life,” Andreas says, “But now influencers are being pushed in a more corporate direction. Maybe then the authenticity is lost.”

NN07 strive for realness in all aspects of their brand, from street casting models for campaigns to traveling the world in search of inspiration. That same mindset affects the way they work with influencers.

“When we work with influencers we have a rule that we want to work with creative, inspiring men. We want them to want to work with us as well. So when we do those kinds of collaborations, it’s all about finding someone who likes what we do enough to want to shoot some photos themselves, so it feels authentic. We want to make it as open of a conversation as possible.”

‘Authenticity’ is key for Andreas. “The influencer industry can be very closed around itself. Influencers are maybe friends within the same circle because they see themselves as small individual brands. And that’s where it gets unreal, and the love is gone,” he says and continues, “Sometimes we forget to think about the reality, that there is a guy out there that should be inspired. That’s important.”

The importance for how authenticity resonates and the social space for the influencer is a point to be seen – a sense of authentic freedom. How come male influencers are only just now making themselves known?

“There’s definitively culture differences that play a part in how male influencers are seen,” Andreas says, on the topic of a boom in the male influencer market.

“Maybe some thought that it was a bit uncool to stand out as much as a male influencer in the southern parts of Europe and the US as in Scandinavia. And maybe male influencers had a harder time and experienced a sort of mockery that female influencers didn’t suffer through in the same way. But now people are getting more used to it, so it’s more accepted, and many male influencers thrive.”

 

NN07 is a Danish men’s wear brand with a great focus on the details of things.
Aaron Wester, also known as The Modern Otter, is a New York-based influencer.

So, if you’re on the other side then?

We spoke with New York-based influencer, Aaron Wester,  a visual storyteller with a background in theatre and costume design. With almost fifty-thousand followers on Instagram alone, Aaron uses his channels as creative outlets.

On the subject of a male influencer market on the rise, Aaron points out how influencers are viewed as trusted advisors. Their recommendations come across as more substantive than traditional marketing:

“I do think the male influencer market is on the rise. More and more men are interested in fashion, home decor and taking care of their bodies. Men look to their peers for advice on how to elevate their routine,” Aaron says and continues, “So when a follower sees an influencer they trust talk about a product, it creates a personal connection with that brand.”

However, it seems that the male influencer market operates independently from the female segment.

”We operate pretty independent within the PR world. I would say there are fewer of us, so in that respect, we are a bit of a niche market.”

As an influencer, there’s a fine line to balance between staying true to your own brand and appealing to other brands.

“Authenticity is vital. Followers will call you out if you do something they believe isn’t authentic. It’s easy to lose people’s trust, so you have to establish your boundaries and stick to them,” Aaron says.

“I find the most effective campaigns are the ones where the brand and the influencer identify the areas where their aesthetics overlap. We aren’t models but stylists and advisors. So our readers expect us to put our own spin on the products we’re promoting. It can still be true to the brand’s vision and evolve out of the collaboration process without sacrificing either one’s brand.”

 

Authenticity is a key theme seen from both perspectives.

As a brand, you search for pieces of your brand essence in the people you wish to use your products. Whereas as an influencer, you look for pieces of yourself in the brand. Bearing this in mind, we understand the importance of there being a diverse representation of influencers in the industry. Consumers should find bits and pieces of themselves in both brands and influencers. With male influencers on the rise, men’s fashion brands will thrive and reach new markets.

 

Reach out to your future male brand ambassadors with our Influencer Network. Our international team of curators build email lists by handpicking journalists, influencers, media outlets and more, who are most relevant within the fashion and design spheres. Why not take a step towards the male market with your marketing strategy? Read more about our Influencer Network here.

 

VOCAST’s Swedish Curator Linnea Litsberger grew up in Shanghai, but is now based in slightly smaller Malmö. With a BA in Strategic Communication, Linnea divides her time between her great passion for communication and expression, modern dance and her little Westie.

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