An era of accessibility: Luxury brands, social and creators

As social media evolves, new opportunities open up for luxury brands

Jamie Ray

Co-Founder Buttermilk


At a first glance, luxury brands, social media and influencer marketing can feel like a recipe for disaster. You have competing ideas of exclusivity and accessibility, and bridging the gap is a challenge many luxury marketers would rather avoid. With brand safety as a number one priority, affording creative license to influencers across social media often presents more risks than opportunities.

A luxury brand spends a lifetime building mystic and allure. Unravelling that by placing your brand in the hands of creators would be a crazy move… right? Wrong, and as a marketeer you needn’t worry, as the relationship between social, creators and luxury brands is a harmonious one.

In fact, social media is the very vehicle that has helped to kickstart an accessible luxury movement that has captivated both Gen Z and Millennial audiences. The ‘you can’t sit with us’ days are gone and luxury brands now need to adopt a more open and accessible attitude to content to attract a set of consumers that have a natural aversion to the status quo. 

Social media broke the mould 

The biggest thing to reshape luxury consumer culture has been social media itself. Content and commerce all rolled into one means consumers have swapped flicking through Vogue for swiping social feeds. In fact, 70% of luxury purchases are influenced by online social interactions.

The ‘you can’t sit with us’ days are gone and luxury brands now need to adopt a more open and accessible attitude to content to attract a set of consumers that have a natural aversion to the status quo.

Jamie Ray, Founder at Buttermilk

In a post-pandemic world, consumers crave connection and authenticity, and social media is the playground enabling those desires. Individuals want to pull back the curtain on luxury and understand how it can elevate their everyday lives. Access trumps elitism and luxury marketers are taking note. As former CEO of RIMOWA, Alexandre Arnault noted "Social media has redefined the balance of desirability [for luxury brands]… Snapping and sharing images makes them valuable’. As a luxury brand, showing up on social media is no longer an option, it is a commercial necessity. 

Luxury fashion brands took centre stage 

It’s one thing for social media to create an environment of accessibility, it’s another for luxury brands to take a leap into the unknown. In this respect, fashion brands paved the way, and helped build a blueprint of how luxury brands can show up on social media.

Streetwear brands in particular mastered the art of balancing exclusivity with accessibility. The likes of Off-White and Supreme gave birth to a drop culture by expressively leveraging social content to create the ultimate sense of FOMO. These brands opened their doors to everyone but created a sense of immediacy to get to the front of the queue. You can sit with us, but make sure you are quick about it.

This influence of streetwear on luxury fashion isn’t a flash in the pan either; in 2021 the largest luxury group in the world LVMH acquired a majority stake in Off-White.

It’s an understatement to say the shackles are off and fashion houses are looking to push the parameters of what is possible with creators and content. This summer, Coach and Lil Nas X launched a fashion line across social with the campaign headline - 'The Courage to Be Real’. Balenciaga is collaborating with, wait for it… Crocs. Influencers are on the loose for Marc Jacobs. These social activations are unhinged, low-fi, raw and authentic.

Under a traditional luxury gaze, they don’t make sense. But that doesn’t matter - they are an accurate representation of how we digest content and an even more accurate representation of what consumers crave. 

Luxury beauty brands captialised 

If fashion brands paved the way, then luxury beauty brands have been quick to follow and have capitalised on the endless possibilities that social presents. Beauty brands such as Armani and Prada work with 1000s of influencers each year in a creatively fluid way.

Naturally, they have a competitive advantage over their respective fashion lines as the beauty products come in at a significantly lower price point. They are providing consumers with a gateway into the world of luxury for a fraction of the price; have a little treasured piece from a designer house and feel a sense of belonging. I might not be able to afford a Prada handbag, but I can afford their lipstick.

To find a leading example of a luxury beauty brand handing the reins to creators, look no further than Dior. They have transferred creative ownership to their community via their Dior Beauty Lover channel. The page solely features content created by their fans, inverting the idea of faceless luxury, and helping to build a brand persona through the eyes of their consumers. 

Working with the right partner 

So, it’s clear, luxury brands have a place on social media and their products belong in the hands of creators. However, that isn’t to say luxury brands should throw caution to the wind, even if it might look like that is the case.

Working alongside an influencer agency that has expertise in identifying creators is a necessary first step. That means more than a hygiene data audit and should extend to a visual analysis of the influencer’s feed and aesthetic.

When it comes to the content itself, an experienced agency will understand following TikTok trends can cheapen your brand, but equally understand how to leverage insights to help create and incubate trends via influencers. There is no better example than the Pumpkin Spice Makeup trend created by Meredith Duxbury in collaboration with Armani Beauty.

The opportunity is clear - luxury brands can and should fully immerse themselves on social media by working extensively with creators. They will afford luxury brands a sense of creative freedom that previously would have been denied and ensure you can reach a younger, more diverse and fluid audience.

However, social media and the creator-verse is in a constant state of evolution. An experienced agency partner will allow luxury brands to enter the social conversation on its own terms without compromising on results.

Guest Author

Jamie Ray

Co-Founder Buttermilk


Jamie Ray is the co-founder of Buttermilk, an award-winning global influencer marketing agency. Doubling in size year on year & with multiple international offices, Jamie has led Buttermilk to the top of the influencer marketing sector.