"Kim Kardashian's influencer award is a lazy move from the fashion industry"

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Billie Bhatia
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As Kim Kardashian is awarded the inaugural Influencer Award at the CFDAs, Stylist’s fashion writer, Billie Bhatia, reflects on why this is the industry’s laziest move yet.

On Monday night, New York hosted the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards (CFDAs), the Oscars of fashion, if you will. It’s an occasion that celebrates the best and brightest in American design and awards the highest honours in the fashion world. The CFDA red carpet attracts the world’s biggest stars, from models to actors, designers and editors. In short, it’s a big deal.

The CFDA is not only there to celebrate established names in the industry (past winners include Tom Ford, Raf Simons, and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen) but also has the ability to change a designer’s life via the CFDA Vogue Fashion fund – bringing emerging designers, such Monse, Mansur Gavriel and Phillip Lim, to a global audience.

In an unprecedented move, the CFDA awarded Kim Kardashian with its first ever Influencer Award, which inevitably sparked a million thoughts/emojis from CFDA fans like me. 

There is no doubting that Kim Kardashian has influence, some may argue she is the OG influencer. Without Kim K we would likely not have selfies, contour, a debilitating feeling that our lashes will never be long enough naturally, and a weird desire to wear cycling shorts with heels (I tried it: avoid, avoid, avoid).

However, this is the CFDAs. The bloody CFDAs! This is home to the most sacrosanct fashion names, who are bubbling over with talent and creativity, and considering Kim Kardashian’s opening line of her acceptance speech was, “I’m kind of shocked I’m winning a fashion award when I’m naked most of the time”, was this really the best the CFDAs could muster? 

I like Kim Kardashian, I like her a lot. She is a smart businesswoman, she is a doting mother, she takes the piss out of her husband. However, it must also be noted she often promotes an unattainable lifestyle (I mean, no one will ever be able to live up to those flower wall goals) and at times an unhealthy image – see all paid-for posts about weight-loss pills.

But more than all the above, was Kim Kardashian a lazy choice from a governing body that is supposed to shine a spotlight on the new, the bold, the exciting, the boundary-pushers of fashion and not just the obvious social media star? Yes. I believe so. 

The fashion industry came under heavy fire during the February fashion weeks, when their choice street-style images were portraying a uniformed selection of women, deliberately avoiding anyone who was not already an established name with an established following. There was an obvious message coming from the fashion industry: “Forget the new, forget the different, chase followers, chase likes!”

By awarding Kim Kardashian this inaugural CFDA award, the highest echelons of the fashion industry have just cemented that notion. 

What’s the solution? Think outside the damn box, CFDA. What about Ashley Graham? Or Meghan Markle? Rihanna? Vivienne Westwood? Adwoa Aboah (who actually called out Kim’s win as a ‘joke’)? The list of powerful, influential women who are inspiring a positive change in fashion could, and in fact does, go on. 

The fashion industry is a powerful beast that has the ability to influence people and effect change. Let’s make it a positive one. 

Images: Getty / Instagram