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Where Are Young Females Finding Their Fashion Inspiration?

If magazines and brands aren’t telling young consumers what’s cool, where are they turning to find fashion inspiration today? We asked 500 13-33-year-old females…

Once upon a time, teen girls and young women had only a few places to go for style cues—magazines ruled the fashion seasons, and designers and brands told consumers what they should want to buy and why. And then, the internet came around.

Growing up with the internet has exposed all young consumers to a breadth of cultures and information sources that once might have remained outside their worlds. Instead of browsing a record store’s categorized aisles, they have new tracks surface on streaming platforms that make discovery a priority. Instead of a magazine, they see international styles on Instagram and Tumblr. This has, of course, had a major impact on multiple industries. Millennials’ access to real-time updates of runway trends has quickly made the traditional fashion industry schedule seem antiquated. Some are questioning whether teen girls still need fashion magazines in a digital media era, and publications like Teen Vogue have been undergoing major edits to combat falling circulation numbers.

As with so many things, digital access has fragmented things. Rather than turning to one or two, or even three places for fashion inspiration, young consumers can turn to hundreds. Style sites, bloggers, vloggers, online retailers, online reviewers, and more. To make sense of this crowded space, we surveyed 500 young female consumers to find out what sources they’re turning to for fashion inspiration, to find out who has style clout with these consumers today:

Social media is the top source of fashion inspiration for young females overall, followed by friends. Platforms like Instagram and Pinterest have usurped the role of style influencer, becoming more important than magazines, ads, or celebrities. While online celebrities/influencers rank lower on the list, they still play a role: 28% of 13-33-year-old females follow a beauty blogger/vlogger on social media. Interestingly, there is still a way that brands are influencing young female consumers: store displays rank third on the list of their style influencers and mannequins in-store are number five. 

Social media is especially influential among females 18-24-years-old: 

Almost six in ten females 18-24-years-old name social media as a source they turn to for fashion inspiration, more than any other female age group. There are a few other differences between age groups as well: Older Millennial females are the least likely to say their friends or store displays are fashion inspiration sources, and teens are far less likely than older females to say look to store catalogs or brand print ads/commercials—indicating that brands have less of a hold over this group.

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here.