Interview with Insta-Influencer “La coquette italienne”:
“Instant content will dominate”
The global fashion industry is gearing up for the fall 2018 fashion week season with upcoming events in New York, Milan, Paris and London. After years of uncertainty, the industry is bouncing back with global growth rates of up to 4.5%. But, there are distinct differences between the various geographic regions and for the first time, the West will no longer be the center of commercial activity with more than half of apparel and footwear sales originating outside Europe and North America. The changes in the fashion industry – valued at more than $1.34 trillion in global retail sales – also impacts Fashion PR. Reason enough for Ubermetrics to kick off a new series of interviews with fashion influencers from various countries to get their take on the industry. Today, we are speaking with Maria Rosaria Rizzo, an Italian Fashion blogger, model, TV presenter and creator of the fashion blog La Coquette Italienne. Maria Rosaria has more than 430.000 followers on Instagram and more than 85.000 on her Facebook page.
Why are you so passionate about Fashion?
I have been passionate about fashion since I was a little girl, thanks especially to my mom, who was always up to date on the latest trends also by filling our home with the most famous fashion magazines. That’s how it all started with fashion; it was love at first sight.
How has Fashion PR and communication changed since you started blogging?
Honestly, I think Fashion PR didn’t change much. What has changed, however, are the vehicles through which Fashion PR delivers its messaging.
Also, I think that for companies, influencers are a good compromise between advertising and PR. Parts of these two types of communication converged into this kind of hybrid communication channel – influencers – which I believe constitutes a new complimentary asset, not a substitute of the two.
How do you work with PR people and the media?
From my experience, the most important thing is to have a close, truthful and professional relationship with them. When this relationship develops in a collaborative environment, it delivers more natural and effective results for brands. Personally, the problems with PR start when I feel pushed by too many products sent to me without a clear message or an existing agreement. When this happens, I hardly ever produce content. Although it’s nice to receive lots of gifts, I think it’s always important that they also bring along some professionalism. As an example: I have just become a mom of a cute baby and I have received some nice packages from PR agencies who I have a close working relationship with which made me sincerely happy. On the other hand, though, it would be weird to receive products from agencies I am not familiar with. For me, there must be a specific message and an appropriate context to build the trust required for long-lasting work relationships.
From a media perspective, I would really like to write fashion editorials but unfortunately, right now, I don’t have the time for that.
What role do Fashion Weeks play today for brands and you personally?
Nowadays Fashion Weeks are sort of buzzing events mainly to gain visibility. From my perspective, the number of curious consumers and jetsetters is higher than that of professional buyers who are the ones, of course, that really matter for brands. But, certainly, fashion weeks are an effective component of communication strategies as they increase brand awareness. For fashion PRs these events are naturally very important, although some were more successful than others to link up more traditional means of communication with newer approaches, such as bloggers.
Do you see yourself as an influencer? How do you see influencer marketing changing?
I have seen myself as an influencer since I was in school. I like to choose the best outfit, in line with my personality and it’s always a pleasure to see somebody getting inspiration from you. What will happen in the future is very hard to foresee, though in my opinion, instant content will be predominant and brand investments will grow in quantity but also in terms of strategic quality. Many brands are still in the “testing phase” when it comes to influencer marketing, but I see that even more traditionally structured companies are strategically investing in it.
What is your relationship with other Fashion & Beauty influencers?
It depends on the people, some of them are sources of inspiration, some others I would consider friends. I like the competitive side of my job, it improves each other’s work, though I don’t like the envy that comes with the territory. Personally, I have never despised bloggers that were more important or popular than me, on the contrary, I have always tried to learn from them.
You worked with Swatch, Samsonite, Pantene and many other brands – how do select brands you work with?
I have to like the image of the brand and of course their product. If I don’t like them I’d rather not start the collaboration. The second important aspect is the concept of the project. Sometimes I have received collaboration proposals from very nice brands that unfortunately though, had in store a project that was not in line with my editorial style.
Ethical standards for influencers have been implemented in many countries: what is your personal view?
I don’t think that further regulation will be key to improve ethical standards. Depending on the industry they are active in, brands already follow rules and are subject to limitations and from my experience, I can say that I have never seen any of them looking to bypass these with the help of influencers.
Regarding influencers and since we are people (regardless of their potential to influence others), I believe that everybody should be free to post any product they want, just as everybody else.
The good thing about social networks is that you are not judged by a legal court but by thousands of people every day. If you are not honest with your audience, they won’t spend time trying to prove the opposite, instead, they will just stop following you. That’s why the most genuine influencers will succeed and will build a more loyal fan base. Therefore, instead of putting up more rules, I think governments should invest more in educating people to be able to differentiate between information that is unethical, fake or negative and information that is ethical and positive.
Who follows you and why?
I believe that my followers follow me because they appreciate me for the person I am. Most of the time, when they reach out to me, I receive very personal questions. They are like family or friends to me. I am very transparent and natural in what I do and, as a result, I believe my followers trust me.
The uniqueness of my follower base is its composition: they are mostly Italian and French. I am a proud Italian, but I founded my blog La Coquette Italienne in France and I live in Paris. This is what makes my blog is unique among what is out there today. Personally, I really like this mix.
Can you reveal your secret to a successful content strategy?
I do my best to be genuine and to have a lively and engaged community; I am not just after a few likes. I reply to messages (as much as I can), I read comments and opinions and I always keep them in mind when planning what I will do next. With some, we almost became close friends, we ask each other about our families and we discuss topics friends would talk about.
However, to keep a massive number of followers engaged, this is not enough. There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes and a lot of research is required. You can’t just post a nice picture. Instead, you must post a nice picture, at the right time, with a genuine message and in the right place. On top of that, you need to make sure that how you express yourself is in line with the way you used to express yourself in the past. What people often don’t see and sometimes neither understand, is the huge effort and work that happens behind a social profile.
I’m pregnant how I dress? Before discovering that I was pregnant I always thought it was impossible to be able to dress with style and elegance during pregnancy. I thought we should abandon the trends of the moment for a while and stop following fashion.
You use various social networks – What’s your approach and which social network do you prefer?
It depends on the content. For example, I use my Twitter account mostly as a personal account where I post instant thoughts applying almost no filter. I like Instagram because it’s visually nice and it’s in line with today’s habit of consuming content, which requires no more than a few seconds of attention.
My favourite though is my blog because I love writing and there I can describe more eloquently what I want to communicate. Facebook, I think is too wide in terms of content. There is too much of it published every day and the message can get lost easily.
I also liked Snapchat a lot, as it was unique, simple and straightforward but somehow since Instagram added the stories, it became easier to create all kind of contents there.
There are also other emerging social platforms among millennials which are very interesting and sooner or later I will find some time to see how to properly start using them.
If you had to pick one fashion trend for the coming season, which one would it be?
I would pick an “animalier” dress with maybe an oversize coat on top of it and a pair of low camperos, like the ones proposed by Philosophy by Lorenzo Serafini.
Maria Rosaria Rizzo is an Italian Fashion blogger, model and TV presenter. In 2013 she moved to Paris and launched her fashion blog “La Coquette Italienne” where she shares her looks, her travels as well as beauty and fashion tips. She graduated in Biotechnology but is completely devoted to her blog. Check out her blog and find her on Instagram
The Ubermetrics team thanks Maria Rosaria wholeheartedly for this interesting interview.