Will Instagram Influencers Be A Help Or A Hurdle To Dior’s Saddle Bag Comeback?
Fashion girls could not have missed last week’s big news. It was everywhere—on runways, on resale sites, and refresh as many times as we did, on our Instagram news feeds.
We’re talking about the return of the Dior Saddle Bag—the iconic mini piece that took the fashion world by storm in the early 2000s. First released in 1999 under the reign of then-creative director John Galliano, the ‘it bag’ was donned by the biggest style stars—Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, and Paris Hilton. Even Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, sported it. Almost twenty years ago, it was every girl’s dream luxury bag.
We have Maria Grazia Chiuri, Dior’s first female creative director, to thank for this major fashion comeback. Chuiri resurrected the horse saddle-shaped piece, putting it back under the spotlight at the fashion house’s Fall/Autumn 2018 collection. Redesigned with a modern touch, the cross-body features exciting patterns and interesting colorways, and comes in mini and large.
''The 'Saddle' bag is one of those emblematic pieces that always manages to remain contemporary. It's also one of the codes that symbolizes Dior's recent history,'' states #MariaGraziaChiuri. Referencing the world of equestrianism and decorated with a stirrup-like gilt 'D', the iconic 'Saddle' bag is one of the stars of the new Autumn-Winter 2018-2019 campaign. Whether carried by hand or worn across the body with its new fringed strap, it is the cult accessory of the season. #DiorSaddle © @Pamela_Hanson
After its first public reappearance in February, after months of eager anticipation, the kidney-shaped bag finally made its way to Dior stores last week. At the same time, it was also spotted on over a hundred influencers’ Instagram grids. In the OOTDs of the who’s who of fashion, the vintage ‘it bag’ was front and center. Leading ladies who welcomed the return of the iconic piece included Miranda Kerr, Nicole Warne, Aimee Song, and even Heart Evangelista.
So was it mere coincidence, or an unacknowledged marketing campaign? With the synchronized uploads, people began to suspect that most of the Instagram posts were sponsored by the brand. Fashion account @Diet_Prada may have been the first to voice their concern through Instagram stories, asking followers to vote yes or no to the caption, “Love the @Dior saddle, but is this a low-key ad campaign or what? No #ad #sponsored or gift indications. Sketchy?”
With this move, Dior bets that instagram influencers would carry its saddle bag to success. Yet in retrospect, fashion commentators seem to think otherwise.
For most people who buy luxe pieces such as the Dior saddle bag, which can reach a stunning $8,500, the exclusivity associated with it is priceless. Yet fashion authorities predict that Dior’s suspected Instagram campaign significantly lessens that factor. Nina Van Volkinburg, who focused her masteral dissertation on luxury influencer marketing, says, “Sadly, its social media communications have come across as robotically calculated and inauthentic, overexposing the product to the point of irritating potential (and current) consumers and simply devaluing its worth.”
Having focused my LCF Master’s dissertation on Influencer Marketing in the luxury fashion sector, I’m particularly intrigued by the ongoing Dior Saddle bag campaign which has relentlessly flooded our newsfeeds through lukewarm, impersonal imagery. The product itself is an icon - a thoughtful revival of John Galliano’s early 2000’s “It” accessory - and captures today’s zeitgeist touching upon notions of nostalgia, logomania, and “share” -worthy buzz. Sadly, its social media communications have come across as robotically calculated and inauthentic, overexposing the product to the point of irritating potential (and current) consumers and simply devaluing its worth. With many of today’s fashion influencers sharing a dangerously homogenous aesthetic, tone, and following, the clone-like imagery makes us (well at least me) tire very quickly ?? ?? Original 2001 Saddle Bag campaigns shot by the brilliant Nick Knight #DiorSaddleBag #FashionMarketing
In an interview with Fashionista, influencer marketing expert Taylor Lorenz concurs. “[Dior] completely saturated the market and the bag is going to have a shorter shelf life because of it. You don't want to see the same thing on your feed every two seconds... If you send [an item] to that many influencers—many with overlapping fan bases—it's going to be too much. I personally think that will backfire.”
''Larger and more robust, but also very colorful, embroidered or with beaded fringe,'' the newest version of the 'Saddle' bag by Artistic Director #MariaGraziaChiuri is, in her own words ''like a chameleon, it adapts to all situations''. Explore this cult item in all its variations through the lens of Pamela Hanson for the #DiorAW18 campaign. Click the link in bio for more. #DiorSaddle © @Pamela_Hanson
Social media has definitely changed the face of marketing—when the saddle bag was first launched in the pre-Instagram age, luxury pieces were attractive enough to a select clientele, standing on their own without social media influencers in the mix. But the game has changed, and today we wait with bated breath, curious whether social media is a boon or bane to exclusive brands like Dior.
After all, if everyone has it—is it still considered luxury?
Artwork by Butchie Peña