These days there’s very little the fashion and beauty industry can get away with without being called out. Over the course of the last year alone we’ve seen the rise of ‘tout’ accounts regarding unethical practises within the industry pop up all over Instagram. Just when the industry thinks they’ve taken down one, another appears. Not unlike the arcade classic, Whac-a-mole really. The reason they keep appearing? Probably because the industry refuses to learn its lessons of deceit or copyright infringement.
First of its kind – and arguably the most famous – is Diet Prada, the no mercy Instagram account that calls our injustices within the fashion industry. Their mission started by calling out fashion copycats, something the originally anonymous owners of the account have described as “live roasts of collections” going on between friends that they felt were “lol enough to put online.”
From there, their following grew dramatically. Without intention the Instagram account had to adopt a firmly anonymous mask, despite the fact that everyone in their friend and family circles apparently knew who they were from the start. Mainly raising flags when designers were appropriating the creative and original work of others, the account gained many an influential fanbase, including Naomi Campbell who has spoken about and praised their work publicly on Instagram stories. As the account gained traction, they began commenting on bigger issues within the industry including that of sexual harassment claims and the lack non-Eurocentric representation within fashion. Unsurprisingly brands didn’t take kindly to targeting from Diet Prada, with designers including Jonathan Anderson and Stefano Gabbana famously responding in suspiciously defensive manners. Other brands however, jumped right on board with the account’s message with Gucci’s Alessandro Michele going so far as inviting the duo – dubbed fashion’s toughest critics – backstage to his show. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, Alessandro?
The account began anonymously in 2014 and remained so until recently when the account owners – Tony Liu and Linsey Schuyler – were unmasked in 2018 in an interview with Business of Fashion. While the account still runs, it’s mostly remained out of the media spotlight since its unveiling.
The most recent development in the tout account world is the emergence of Estée Laundry, the beauty version of Diet Prada. Taking a similar tone and stance to that of Diet Prada, the irony surely can’t have escaped account owners.
Also run anonymously, with plans to remain so, Estée Laundry’s aim, according to their Instagram bio is “airing out the beauty industry’s dirty laundry”. Their first post was published back in April of this year and since then they’ve targeted brands including Glossier who falsely marketed Lash Slick mascara as completely vegan, Kim Kardashian-West’s body fragrance and the uncanny packaging similarities to that of Jean Paul Gaultier’s Classique perfume and most recently, the unravelling scandal involving Brandon Trauxe and Deciem.
In an interview with WWD, one of the account’s founders explained the motives of their group, shedding (vague) light on those involved.
“We’re a small international group of beauty industry insiders who decided to start the account because we’re tired of the lack of transparency in the beauty industry.” – something beauty editors, influencers and makeup lovers have openly applauded them for.
Another of their main aims focuses on giving power to the people which, given the amount we spend on beauty, isn’t such a bad thing.
“We don’t attack any brands or person or influencer. We just call out actions that we find unethical on a case-by-case basis.”
While a relatively new account, at the time of publishing this article, their following stands at 12.6k. Their most recent revelation related to that of Sunday Riley’s unethical practises, appears to account for most of their growth within recent weeks. Their post called out the brand with screenshots of a leaked email from the company directing an employee to post positive reviews of the brands product on Sephora’s website.
The group told WWD, “Supposedly it’s an industry wide practice. We’ve heard from people that other brands do the same thing, but obviously there’s no proof.”
It’s not just in the fashion and beauty industry that we’re seeing the rise of these anonymous accounts, blasting their industry. The influencer world hasn’t escaped the crossfire of the tout account as illustrated with controversy surrounding Blogger’s Unveiled earlier this year. Celebrity tabloids are also under threat with the rise of celebrity gossip Instagram accounts although, admittedly this has a lot more to do with the love of a good scandal as opposed to that of transparency.
There’s no denying the issues raised by these accounts need to be talked about but while on a merciless mission for transparency, isn’t the anonymity of these accounts a little ironic?
2018 is starting to look a lot like Gossip Girl’s world and we’re all just living in it.