The deinfluencing trend really took off at the beginning of 2023. Since then it’s lost its true meaning and has unfortunately become just another cash grab.
At the start of the year, coming off the highest highs of the pandemic, and with a recession on the horizon, deinfluencing began as a way to remind people that they don’t need to buy the newest trend. Something those in the sustainability community have been preaching for years as overconsumption has a direct correlation with climate change.
I was nothing if not excited to see conscious consumerism become more mainstream. But what started as a reminder to not buy into toxic influencer culture has turned into what I call “dupe” culture.
When I was in middle school, I couldn’t (and my parents couldn’t) afford brand-name UGG boots. And trust me, they were all the rage. What we could afford were the $20 Walmart dupes. This was something that was meant to feel shame over. I remember feeling cool in them until I saw the actual cool girls with their brand names. The snarky comments and disgusted looks ensued. Middle school, huh?
But now if you take a scroll on TikTok, you’ll most likely run into a video of a dupe for a trending product. I.e, a cup that looks like the viral Stanley cup. These days dupes are all the rage. I want to preface this by acknowledging that not everyone can afford name-brand items and this is not a jab at low-income folks.
But we need to talk about the role that dupes play in over-consumption and lately, in the deinfluencing trend. All dupes are is cheaply produced knock-offs. We’ve completely normalized stealing artwork and designs from other businesses and selling them for a fraction of the price. That practice alone is unethical. Not all brand names produce their items ethically but dupes for sure aren’t. One look at their price tags will tell you that.
The deinfluencing trend went from “Hey, don’t buy this.” to “Hey, buy this cheaper thing instead!”. What started out as a way to combat over-consumption has become a promotion of over-consumption.
On the other hand, alternatives that aren’t dupes are often offered up. A little less harmless in my opinion but still not the point of the deinfluencing trend.
A popular moisturizer may be trending for $100 when someone makes a video telling you you don’t need to spend that much money on it. Great! Only for them to tell you that you’re much better off with this $50 moisturizer instead. It’s not a dupe since there are a million brands selling a million different moisturizers. Instead, it’s an alternative.
But at its core, the point of that video was to encourage you to buy. Another step away from deinfluencing.
Have you ever seen a post from someone you follow and commented on or sent a message asking where it’s from? Same. Lately, I’ve seen more and more influencers, if they respond at all, tell you that it’s linked in their bio, on their stories or send you a link. We rush to call this “gatekeeping”. Is this the next step in deinfluencing? What if influencers stopped sharing where their outfits or home decor were from?
Speaking as an “influencer” it’s unsustainable to only post about and share items that we can get links to. As someone who talks a LOT about thrifting, I’m often met with disappointment when telling someone who asked where my sweater is from that it’s thrifted. Sometimes it’s a slow fashion piece that is sold out.
I recently shared a reel in which my dress (that wasn’t even the point of the reel) got a lot of comments asking where it was from. Unfortunately, that brand has closed its doors and the dress is no longer available. People don’t like this answer.
But in the name of sustainability, I cannot only wear store-bought items that are still available. And while I’m happy to provide a link when I can, especially when it’s a partnership or a dedicated outfit post, “gatekeeping” may just be the step we need to get the deinfluencing trend back on track.
So where do we go from here and how can we keep the “trend” sustainable? First off, by shifting it back to its initial intent. Conscious consumerism. Second, by making deinfluencing, not a trend. Trends aren’t sustainable and they’re one of the main reasons why we have things like fast fashion. I don’t think there is anything wrong with sharing products you love. But for the sake of the planet and our mental health and overall well-being, we need to stop normalizing over-consumption.
Thank you so much for reading and caring about creating a sustainable future. Please don’t forget to share this post and follow me on Instagram for more conscious consumer inspo.