are instagram influencers killing the planet? – the idea

Music festivals are personally my favourite events to attend. Being able to see multiple of my favourite musicians all in the one day and spending time with friends makes these events special and memorable while being able to support artists and the music industry.

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But what occurs in the days following a festival is the huge influx of Instagram posts. We are living in a digital world where the attitude is “did you even go to an event if you didn’t post about it on Instagram?” And what you see is a universal feed of sequins, sunglasses, neon, boots and fishnets. This “festival fashion” can be traced back to the Woodstock festival in the 60s, where hippies begun to experiment with a form of subversive self-expression through the clothes they wore. (Jones 2017) Nowadays, what you wore to these events are as important as the music and getting the perfect shot of your outfit to post on Instagram is crucial. The growing music festival industry is aware of how important social media is to their young attendees, and has learnt how implementing sophisticated marketing and proactive networking can strengthen relationships with their fans, as an example it has been found “that consumers that viewed a company’s video via social media sharing were 83% more likely to have positive perceptions of the brand than those exposed to the same content via paid advertising.” (Hudson et al. 2015)

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These outfits look so good on Instagram as they reject mainstream fashion. Jones (2017) spots the dilemma in this, highlighting “next time you go buy something for a music festival, just ask yourself if you’ll wear it at least one other time in your life. I can almost 100% guarantee that the answer will be no.” This in combination with the idea that “one should buy a whole new wardrobe” for each event they attend shows that this culture of festival style celebrates fast fashion. (Dalton 2018) The term fast fashion describes the cheap and easily accessible fashion we buy online and at large shopping centres. These retailers keep up to date with all of the current trends and offer the chance to buy more for less. (Bick et al. 2018)

While this poses as convenient and fun, it causes what has been named a “global environmental justice dilemma” as the manufacturing and use of fast fashion creates both environmental health hazards and huge amounts of waste. (Bick et al. 2018)

Considering this, I want to explore how social media, specifically Instagram, influences us to buy fast fashion items and why we feel compelled to find a new outfit for each event we attend, and if these behaviours are negatively contributing to our large landfill issue. Which begs the question:

“Are Instagram influencers encouraging fast fashion purchases for festival attendees?”

This question poses both social and environmental significance, as it is important to investigate why we have the need to make disposable clothing purchases and post pictures of them online, and if this ties into the prevalent pressure young people feel in how they present themselves online. The environmental issue questions how exactly fast fashion is affecting the planet, and how much festival clothing could be contributing to this problem. Conversely, it is interesting to consider if there are presences within Instagram that are going against the grain and encouraging a more sustainable way of enjoying festival fashion.

Carefully piecing together an outfit by searching multiple online and in-person stores to find the perfect, extravagant outfit for an upcoming music festival is similar to the process so many young people go through when they use Instagram to create their own personal brand. Through well thought out strategy, they curate the content they post on their profiles, manipulating their image to ensure that their followers only see the most perfected, polished version of their experience. And when these same people are exposed to what other people are posting on the same platform, they are faced with a pressure to keep up with the trends and sometimes, unrealistic expectations. (Wylie 2018)

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And what happens to the outfits after the Instagram posts go up? Due to the elaborate nature of the items, it’s hard to find somewhere else appropriate to wear the clothing and most likely it will become a part of the 30kg of clothing and textiles the average Australian throws out per year. (Evans 2013) Leigh (2016) identifies that this “throw away culture” is influenced by social media, creating the fear that “people don’t want to be seen in the same clothes twice.” Which makes us wonder what can be done to continue the fun culture of festival fashion without the hefty impact on our planet? And do Instagram influencers have a responsibility in implementing this change?


Bick, R, Halsey, E & Ekenga C.C 2018 ‘The global environmental injustice of fast fashion’ in Environmental Health

Dalton, R 2018 ‘Where Festival Style Came From And How Fast Fashion Keeps It Alive” in Well Made Clothes

Evans, R 2013 ‘The solution for the clothing stain may be in the nursery’ Media Release by TFIA: Council of Textile & Fashion Industries of Australia LTD. 30th September

Hudson S, Roth, S.S, Madden T.J, Hudson, R 2015 ‘The effects of social media on emotions, brand relationship quality, and word of mouth: An empirical study of music festival attendees’ in Elsevier: Tourism Management vol 47 pp.68-76

Jones, L 2017 ‘Coachella Is Here To Remind You That Festival Fashion Sucks’ in Well Made Clothes

Leigh, S 2016 ‘The Impact of Fashion & Textile Waste” in Ecomono

Wylie, B 2018 ‘Instagramming tweens ‘brand-managing’ themselves with multiple accounts’ in ABC News

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