The age of the #influencer hasn't even come close to subsiding. Over the last few years, the unremitting potency of social media has turned the fashion world on its head time and again, giving people from all over the world a chance to access an industry that was once reserved for a very select few.
Individuals with substantial social media presence wield huge clout on the broader fashion conversation at the simple click of a button, rivaling former beacons of influence (i.e.: traditional fashion publications) more than ever before. But what garners real influencer status these days? The term is thrown around so frivolously that we've come to affiliate it with people that simply dress cool, associate with an "It" crowd and posses a shrewd selfie game (which isn't completely untrue).
Yet there's more to these stylish mavens than an impressive Instagram following or a fire wardrobe. Whether they're challenging beauty standards, forecasting the trends of tomorrow or flipping the switch with their artistic ingenuity, these guy are, if anything, not ones to follow the pack.
With the FW17 Fashion Week circuit just a few days away, here are nine game-changing individuals you should probably get on your radar, because they're definitely going to be making headlines this year.
Instagram: @sitabellan From: Milan, Italy Occupation: Model/DJ
Her launch into mainstream stardom may have been eased by her cameo in Rihanna's blood-soaked music video for "Bitch Better Have My Money" back in 2015, but even before she was doing RiRi's dirty work, Spanish beauty Sita Abellán had already amassed a sizable Instagram following thanks to her wildly wacky outfits and seasoned selfie photography.
Now a signee to Wilhelmina Models, Sita, when not igniting a frenzy of street style photo ops at Fashion Week, has spent a great portion of 2016 perfecting skills that extend beyond poses and catwalk struts; the self-proclaimed "techno princess" has managed to craft a successful career out of DJing (session this sick mix she made for us a few month back) and even created her own capsule collection with Polish streetwear label MISBHV, which debuted at New York Fashion Week SS17.
Don't anticipate Sita slowing down anytime soon. "I hope that next year I can come out with something that would be incredible,” she told Vogue.com. "In just one year I’ve been so many places and I’ve been able to do so many things, so I’m really happy and excited to see how this is going to grow."
Instagram: @marcgoehring From: Berlin, Germany Occupation: Stylist/Fashion Editor, 032c
Berlin may not be known for its game-changing fashion scene, but Marc Goehring more than makes up for that. As the fashion editor and stylist of German magazine 032c, the Bavarian-bred style savant can be seen at any number of fashion weeks all over the globe flexing his trademark "cunty military meets '80s casual" getups.
Goehring not only heralds a refreshingly colorful fleekiness to Berlin's all-black everything attire, his leverage on social media also sheds light on many progressive and emerging designers that are just breaking out in the biz. Expect to see more mesh tops, outrageous shades and cybergoth boots from him in 2017 (especially with Fashion Month coming up).
Instagram: @walterpearce From: New York, New York Occupation: Casting Director, Midland Agency
In the height of street casting, 21-year-old casting director Walter Pearce is arguably one of the movement's leading forces. Known as the brain behind Hood By Air's diverse range of models, Pearce has carved a name for himself in the industry by redefining methods of talent scouting, employing a democratic approach that embraces social media.
Widely praised for his unconventional standards of beauty, Pearce decided to formalize the work he was already doing this year by creating Midland, a hybrid organization that serves as both a model management company and casting agency.
The agency's growing popularity means that 2017 will surely be a busy one for this alt model whisperer, where you'll likely see him scurrying around some backstage in a pair of alien-eyed shades and billowing tattered hoodie.
Instagram: @gr8_kbm2 From: Tokyo, Japan Occupation: Founder/Buyer, GR8
If there's ever one to embrace the weird and wonderful end of the streetwear spectrum, it's Kubo. The owner of influential Tokyo fashion temple, GR8, and consultant at one of LA's sickest retailers, Wild Style, Kubo's eclectic taste in clothing, which spans across everything from Hood By Air to Gypsy Sport to A-COLD-WALL*, has been lensed by many a street style photographer; he's also been a key player with ushering in some of the most talented young designers to the Japanese fashion landscape.
When he's not cavorting with industry tastemakers at Fashion Week (many of whom can be found on this here list), Kubo can be seen hitting the town alongside his expansive music posse, including members from outré record labels Bromance and Fade to Mind.
Instagram: @alealimay From: Los Angeles, California Occupation: Model/Image Consultant/Stylist/Blogger
Often regarded as the "Queen of LA's Fashion Scene", SoCal native Aleali May (pronounced "uh-lay-lee") is the go-to consultant for all things high-fashion and streetwear-related on the West Coast. When she's not outfitting the likes of Kendrick Lamar, managing her namesake blog or working with leading retail spots such as FourTwoFour on Fairfax, RIF and H. Lorenzo, May can be spotted modeling for some of streetwear's biggest names, including Stussy, VFILES and MISBHV, among others.
Though her personal brand remains grounded in Los Angeles' burgeoning fashion scene, May's international acclaim has been on a steady incline, regularly making the rounds at fashion weeks in Paris, Copenhagen and beyond.
Vsevolod "Sever" Cherepanov
Instagram: @amoureuxpeintre From: Moscow, Russia Occupation: Model Vsevolod “Sever” Cherepanov had a pretty lucrative run in 2016. As one of the more memorable faces in Gosha Rubchinskiy’s squad of oddball youngsters, Sever's self-described “Gopnik in Paris” steez, which combines labels like Supreme and Kappa with thrifted wind pants and trademark gaudy gold chain, has been a staple on the street style sector for several seasons now, appeasing fashion's current obsession with all things "Post-Soviet”. But Sever's discernibly "ugly chic" aesthetic is, if anything, completely self-aware. Recently, the 18-year-old alt model, in an effort to tap the contemporary streetwear yen while giving a patriotic nod outside of Fashion Week, launched his first ever clothing label, dubbed "Russian Mafia New World Order”, in tandem with premier Moscow retailer, KM20. Keep an eye out for more Slavic thugwear from Sever in 2017, because it's sure to be a topic of discussion at least for a little while longer.
Instagram: @iampatrickmason From: Berlin, Germany Occupation: Art Director/Designer/Illustrator/Model
If street style peacocking were an Olympic tournament, I'd bet every cent on Patrick Mason taking home the gold medal. The multi-faceted artist, when not turning heads with his bombastic style and floor-shattering voguing moves, has been taking over Berlin's fledgling fashion scene by storm, devoting his time as an art director, illustrator, model and fashion student.
Mason has also been busy working on his own brand, Maison Mason, which has been making waves in the indie fashion blogosphere as of late with its gender-crushing ethos and overtly HBA-meets-Margiela-meets-McQueen homages. Only a matter of time before the German fashionista is splashed on every "influencer to watch" listicle in the coming months...
Instagram: @cyber69_ From: Toronto, Canada Occupation: DJ/Producer
Cyber69 is, much like his moniker suggests, an artist conjured up entirely within the digital nether-realm. Born in the far-off city of Vladivostok, Russia, the self-made DJ/producer migrated to Toronto at 18-years-old to study and eventually built up a modest-sized music portfolio. After catching the ear of both Virgil Abloh and Heron Preston – who soon after contacted him on Instagram – thanks to his trap mix-laden Soundcloud page, Cyber landed his first gig spinning at a Been Trill afterparty (a function that was attended by Kanye West and Drake, no less).
Since then, things have only gotten bigger for the Russian beatmaster, who's been seen trotting about Fashion Week with Virgil and company, producing mixes for VFILES and OFF-WHITE and starring in editorials for buzzy brands like C2H4 and NASASEASONS.
Instagram: @gullyguyleo From: Warwickshire, England Occupation: Streetwear Collector
At just 14-years-old, what Leo Mandella lacks in age he certainly makes up for with an astute knowledge of all things streetwear and sneakers. Holding an Instagram following that clocks in at over 86K (today), Mandella first gained attention as a reseller in notable online group The Basement, where he continues to flaunt his expansive collection of some of the rarest and most hype threads on the market.
Though he's only just entered the London Fashion Week circuit, we can probably expect to see Leo's face, encased in a neoprene Supreme face mask of course, in a flurry of street style recaps outside the British capital in the very near future.
Now that you know what influencers will be making headlines in 2017, find out which brands will also be killing it this year.