Rebecca Minkoff’s embrace of the platform, which has 100 million users and is shedding its adult-only image, represents how fashion is wading deeper into the creator economy.
Rebecca Minkoff, the designer known for her $300 leather crossbody handbags, has nearly one million followers on Instagram. On her profile, she shares a mélange of photos and videos, including product images from the brand’s latest accessory or fragrance launch, interviews with actresses and fashion insiders and on occasion, cheeky quotes.
But for those seeking more, Minkoff is now offering a premium content experience to her followers and customers. Today, the American accessories maven launches an OnlyFans account, making her the first well-known designer to do so. The debut is tied to New York Fashion Week, and to kick things off, Minkoff will share behind-the-scenes looks at her brand’s upcoming collection, as well as content focused on being an entrepreneur in fashion.
“As a company, we always want to be a part of emerging platforms to better connect with our customers,” Minkoff told BoF in an email. “Joining OnlyFans offers a new way for us to leverage our loyal fanbase as a brand and provide exclusive content that otherwise may not be available on other platforms.”
For the uninitiated, OnlyFans is a subscription-based platform where individuals who sign up have the option charge users to view their content behind a paywall. (Tips are welcome.) The platform, which launched in 2016, has 100 million registered users, it told BoF, one million of whom are “creators.” Bloomberg called it a “billion-dollar media giant hiding in plain sight.” That’s still a small number compared to TikTok, which is reported to have as many as 800 million users globally, and Instagram, which has grown to over a billion users worldwide. Still, OnlyFans growth is rapid: The company said it has grown from 17 million users in December 2019 and is currently gaining 500,000 users per day.
Anyone can sign up to share photos and videos on OnlyFans. Though the platform has been primarily associated with adult content, mainstream celebrities like Cardi B and actor Michael B. Jordan are also on the app.
Minkoff’s OnlyFans page reflects an incremental shift in fashion away from a reliance on traditional platforms. She’s also a fitting guinea pig: Minkoff is known for her unexpected fashion week sponsorships and partnerships (last season, home improvement store Lowe’s furnished her NYFW presentation, as well as shows for Jason Wu and Christian Siriano).
OnlyFans is yet another platform rising in the evolving “creator economy,” giving everyone from designers to influencers space to monetise their followings and create communities. TikTok, Twitch and Clubhouse are among emerging digital platforms where fashion insiders are gauging users’ appetite for content. But unlike those platforms, which were built for consumers first and retrofitted with monetisation strategies later, OnlyFans was built with monetisation in mind. To date, OnlyFans said it has paid out over $2 billion in creator earnings.
A growing acceptance of these emerging platforms is part of a greater evolution in how designers monetise their personal brands. (Though for now, Minkoff won’t charge a fee for access to her OnlyFans content.) A decade ago, a fashion designer’s personal brand golden ticket might have been to appear as a judge on a fashion competition show like America’s Next Top Model or Project Runway. Today, it’s about launching a podcast (Diane von Furstenberg’s has “InCharge with DVF,” for example, while Minkoff also has a podcast, “Superwoman with Rebecca Minkoff”) or sitting in on a Clubhouse room.
Besides Minkoff, the fashion industry has yet to dip its toes into OnlyFans in a meaningful way, though lesser-known designers like one named Gogo Graham (who has been featured in Vogue and Paper) model their garments on the platform. Most mainstream fashion influencers, meanwhile, have kept their focus on promoting branded content on Instagram, YouTube and TikTok.
Tim Stokely, OnlyFans founder and CEO, told BoF that the platform “has some announcements coming up as we’re excited to see the fashion industry embrace the social platform.” Today, OnlyFans outlines on the blog section of its website how fashion influencers can use the platform, suggesting formats popular elsewhere on the internet — like fashion haul videos, styling videos and paid brand posts — as well as more pay-per-view messaging and livestreaming. Talent agencies like one called Unruly specialise in pairing influencers on OnlyFans with brands like Fashion Nova and Pretty Little Thing.
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“OnlyFans is becoming more popular for mainstream creatives and in this new world we’re living in, we need to seek out different ways of connecting,” Minkoff said.