More than half of shoppers believe social media influencers are behind the rise in fast fashion, research conducted by the Fashion Retail Academy has revealed.

Fast fashion can be described as inexpensive, mass produced clothing designed to meet the latest trends.

A survey[1] carried out by the academy found more than half (54%) of people believe influencers have at least partly caused a rise in this type of clothing.

This figure is even higher amongst younger generations, with almost three quarters(73%) of those aged between 18 and 24 and 68% of 25-34-year-olds disclosing that they believe influencers can be held somewhat accountable for the rise in disposable fashion.

Meanwhile, only 10% disagreed that influencers had any impact on the increase.

Influencers now hold enormous sway over what people wear by posting pictures of themselves in a variety of outfits on social media — and often not wearing the same thing twice. They make it even easier for consumers to make an instant purchase by using swipe up or affiliate links, which they often earn commission on when someone makes a purchase.

A third of Britons turn to Instagram and social media adverts for fashion inspiration

The research shows that photo sharing site Instagram has grown into one of the top sources of fashion inspiration, with nearly a fifth (17%) of people using it to find the latest trends compared to just 8% five years ago.

Adverts on social media have also grown more influential as 13% of people say they have an impact on their fashion-buying decisions, compared to 7% five years ago.

Meanwhile, friends and family have remained the main sources of inspiration, and are most likely to have an impact on fashion choices for a quarter (26%) of people.

Shop windows are also still an important source of inspiration, with more than a fifth (21%) of people admitting that they still turn to shop windows for inspiration to help style their outfits.

As Britain’s fashion capital, London has more shop windows than any other UK city, which means this figure is higher for Londoners, with almost a third (30%) of Londoners admitting that shop windows inspire their outfit choices.

Lee Lucas, principal and CEO of the Fashion Retail Academy, one of the UK’s leading fashion schools, comments:

“Fashion inspiration was once the domain of glossy magazines and photoshoots, but now more and more people are making money by styling themselves and sharing pictures on social media.

“These influencers, in turn, inspire others to head to the shops to create similar looks. However, not everyone can afford top-end labels, and so retailers selling less expensive clothes are their destination of choice.

“Many people enjoy sporting the latest looks, but we would encourage people to give charity shops any clothes which are still in good condition.

“This helps to lessen the clothing’s impact on the environment and also provides much-needed space in the wardrobe.”