The rise of Kendall Jenner will never cease to amaze. Back in 2014 it was questioned whether she had what it takes to remain at the top, fast forward three years later and that prediction has come to fruition. Kendall Jenner has secured a top spot in 3 major categories, according to Models.com. Ranking #1 in social media following, #2 in magazine covers (10 covers in 12 months) and #6 in campaigns- scoring a total of 9 including the long standing Estee Lauder and the newest contract with La Perla. With an ever growing resume of work, it seems the Fashion Icon of the Decade award is right on time. So why the divisiveness over this selection?
What Makes an Icon?
Well one answer is clear, she hasn’t been in the industry for a decade. At just 21 years old, a decade ago puts Kendall at 11. A preadolescent fashion icon, who would’ve thought? Apparently, The Daily Front Row, a fashion magazine dedicated to bringing the latest in runway trends and fashion news. On September 8, the magazine’s fifth annual Fashion Media Awards will be given out to the “biggest and most influential names in fashion media today.” Seems as if Kendall fits the requirement perfectly. It’s probably the word “icon” that’s throwing everyone off. Naysayers use Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford in their argument against Jenner. With some going as far to say that Jenner isn’t a real model. That opinion, doesn’t seem to hold relevance over Jenner being picked. The supermodel heyday of Campbell and Crawford was over twenty years ago. A different market has long emerged, and with that comes change.
The term ‘icon’ can have a subjective meaning, and by today’s standards that word is used loosely. The Daily Front Row appears to view icon status based on how influential a person is, because that influence has a domino effect on whatever the person touches. In this case, among many other models in the industry Kendall stands tall in influence. With an 83.1 million follower base on Instagram, it’s easy to see why brands want to work with her. She is marketable, has a strong legion of fans, and, aside from the Pepsi debacle, tends to shy away from drama that plagues her family name. Her social media following has increased the relevance of some of the biggest fashion houses, like Chanel and Marc Jacobs. High fashion has a stigma of only catering to a certain type of person. And because of that brands are doing whatever they can to appeal to a wider audience, hence the reason why big name designers partner with clothing stores like H&M and TopShop.
A New Era?
In the old days of the supermodel, magazine advertisements, billboards and commercials were how brands sold their clothes. Models were either featured there, appearing in music videos, or strutting down the runways. The access to their personal lives were limited, and a certain stigma attached itself to their persona. The increased social media backing that models, like Kendall, Gigi and Bella Hadid, have allows their fan-base to have a closer look at their lives: who their dating, where they are, and what they’re wearing. That semblance of connection to your favorite star works in Kendall’s favor and for the brand she signs to as well.
Let’s face it, brands, even the high fashion ones, are hiring actresses, reality stars, singers, and socialites (see Balmain) to flaunt their clothes on red carpets, tv shows, and just running daily errands. Pick up a fashion publication, specifically an American one, and you’ll see ad-filled pages with celebrities as the spokes model. In the nineties, the supermodel became the celebrity. Now it appears, the celebrity is becoming the supermodel.
Is this new crop of models reminiscent of the supermodel heyday of the nineties? Absolutely not. Would Kendall get eliminated from the running towards becoming America’s Next Top Model? Yes, it’s likely. The critique of her photos by Tyra and the judges would go along the lines of “she doesn’t “smize” enough”, or “she’s resting on pretty. However, contrary to the opposition, this is a new era in fashion. Kendall is a real model and the term “icon” has new meaning. If the fashion industry is always changing why then is it so hard to accept this?