What does it mean to be a content creator in the fashion space? Someone who models the latest designer looks and touts products in sponsored posts? That’s one definition, and one that most people are probably familiar with. Over the last few years, however, a new wave of creators has emerged and transformed fashion content creation as we know it.
With the ease of publishing content on platforms like TikTok and YouTube, anyone can participate in fashion criticism online and share style-related content in general. Trend forecaster Kendall Becker notes that “there’s certainly been a growing interest around in-depth fashion content — from dissecting collections, understanding business practices, to trend forecasts.”
At the forefront of this are rising creators such as Odunayo (Ayo) Ojo, Mina Le, and Mandy Lee, who are dropping their knowledge online and educating viewers on fashion history, the process of garment production, the origin of various style trends, and more. (For example, do you know about the history and social significance of corsets? Well, there’s a near 30-minute video that dives deep into this topic.) Fashion is more than the runways and the iconic looks, and these creators are helping us learn about the different aspects of the industry, one video at a time.
Ojo, also known as Fashion Roadman, has over 97,000 subscribers and 3 million views on his YouTube channel. A student of fashion journalism at Central Saint Martins, Ojo makes digestible yet informative videos about the history of famous designers, how luxury brands make money, and how to build a career in fashion among other topics. In June, he began posting on TikTok, creating even more bite-sized pieces of fashion content for his engaged Gen Z audience.
Ojo says that thanks to the existence of social media, fashion has become democratized. “If we go back to the ’90s or the ’80s, the only way you could learn something about fashion was through the big magazines — like The Face, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, GQ.” In a way, creators like Ojo can be seen as modern-day magazines, as their content offers insights into fashion’s rich history as well as the latest trends. “Now, if you have a big following on social media, you can interview a designer,” Ojo says. “Whereas in the ’90s, if you’re an independent person, you wouldn’t be able to interview designers. It just wouldn’t happen. Social media has definitely evened out the playing field.”
Ojo’s original goal was to become a fashion journalist, but he felt that the lack of access to the industry, especially as a Black person, made it difficult. “I thought to myself, ‘How do I get myself out there?’ I followed a lot of fashion journalists, but I found it strange how nobody was making videos about this content,” Ojo reflects. “I felt that YouTube was the best platform for me, because I was able to show I had a good understanding of what these fashion journalists were writing about.” It’s by filling this gap in fashion content that has landed Ojo huge opportunities such as working with the Business of Fashion, MR PORTER, and Vogue.
Growing a Youtube channel isn’t easy. When asked how he’s been able to build a strong following, Ojo emphasizes that everyone’s content is different and no success strategy will be the same. “I think in my case, I was really lucky because I was one of the first channels to take a different perspective on fashion,” he says. “It wasn’t about styling, but rather what designers are doing, and what they are inspired by.” In essence, step one is to find your unique angle and work from there. “There are other strategies like learning SEO, because it will definitely improve your chances of running a successful social media channel,” Ojo adds.
For Ojo, running a YouTube channel isn’t just about creating videos, but also cultivating a community. “I get hundreds of emails and messages [from my audience], but I still try my best to respond,” he shares. “People remember when you’re interacting with them.” In particular, Ojo finds that he’s been able to build a strong rapport with his audience by doing livestreams: “In my comments, there are some people who may have worked directly with a designer or brand I’m talking about. There’s this back and forth with my audience that I like.”
When it comes to monetization, Ojo doesn’t rely on sharing ad revenue with YouTube, stating that it “does not pay as well.” Offering an inside look at the fashion industry, his Patreon podcast (now on hiatus) served as an avenue for his audience to financially support his content. But this isn’t the only way Ojo has been able to make money as a content creator. On his website, he sells an e-book, The Effective Way To Learn About Fashion, as well as the digital version of his magazine The Fashion Archive. Priced at £50 a copy, the print version of the magazine was so successful, all 350 copies sold out on the first day it launched.
“Everything I have created has been a reaction to things I have wanted to see,” Ojo says. “With my magazine, I created it to go against what I see as the over-commercialization of fashion magazines with huge corporate sponsors that have stifled journalistic integrity and freedom in fashion. My e-book is quite literally a beginner’s fashion guide that I would’ve loved to read when I first got my start in fashion.”
Having a dedicated following on social media has also allowed Ojo to earn more as a freelance writer. “I’m really interested in fashion journalism and I make money from writing, but I would say the difference between myself and the average writer is my audience,” he says. “I’m able to charge certain prices because of my audience.”
So what’s the Fashion Roadman’s advice for aspiring content creators? As simple as it sounds, he says, “Find what you enjoy and keep at it. I think that many people these days expect things to just work overnight, but it’s very rare that this is ever the case.”