Why are Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid Dominating the Modeling Industry?
It's an undeniable fact - 2016 was the year of the Instagirl.
This year, we spent hours gushing over their street style looks, debating whether or not they could truly be considered supermodels and scouring gossip sites to see which boy band member they'd most recently been spotted with (for the record: Kendall with Harry Styles and Gigi with ongoing boytoy Zayn Malik), but Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid were more than tabloid fodder. They also consistently won the newsstand battle.
In 2016, Gigi Hadid graced the most fashion magazine covers of any model, covering 14 different issues in the year. Kendall Jenner was the runner-up, with 10 covers of her own. We know that these two young women have managed to make the modeling industry their b*tch in 2016, with very little lead-up to their explosion of popularity. Magazines couldn't book them quickly enough, and they beat out most other models for nearly every important cover this year.
But....why? What makes Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid special in the modeling industry, beyond their built-in celebrity fan base? Believe us when we say that their overwhelming presence on magazine covers is a real problem for the creativity and diversity in the fashion industry - and not for the reasons you would think.
It's not because they are both thin and portray conventional standards of beauty (although, that's another thing to consider), and it's not because they are both women who have had their careers handed to them (they haven't, and we've addressed that before) - it's because the more that the fashion industry continues to rely on celebrities and influencers with millions of followers, the less that fashion becomes about - well - fashion.
As the industry turns toward booking women (and men) simply because they are well-known, it positions itself as something to be accessible and obvious to the masses, as these influencers/models/celebrities are by definition. It gives away the mysterious and individual pieces of itself, and trades them for visibility. The problem with print magazines (and subsequently the fashion industry) is not that they're not reaching enough people, it's that they are targeting too many people.
In simpler terms - fashion has become commercial. The reason that Kendall and Gigi have been able to land cover after cover is because they are commercially viable - and today every decision made in the industry is based on what will sell to the mainstream - not necessarily what will break the rules or change the game. Be honest, when is the last time that you picked up an issue of InStyle because you thought that the dress on the cover was interesting?
The days of editorial and high fashion have slowly diminished into endless ready-to-wear collections that must have a stamp of approval from street style stars and Instagram influencers before they can be approved to walk down a runway. With the continued reliance on celebrities and commercially successful cover stars, editorial fashion must take a backseat to what appears generically beautiful or what the latest It Girl might feature on her Instagram.
However, it is difficult to fault fashion magazines for their choices. By putting Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid on the covers of magazines, they catch the attention of new readers at the newsstand, interested in the two women who appear in the publication's pages. The business mind says that this is a good thing - more readers equals more sales which equals more money which can keep the publication alive. We can't help but wonder, though, if losing the creativity, originality and the inherent weirdness that is so integral to boundary-breaking fashion is too great a cost.
Why do you think Kendall and Gigi hold so much power in the fashion industry today? Who would you like to see land more covers in 2017?