Aimee Song is far from an overnight success. In fact, she’s been honing her role as an influencer and entrepreneur for much longer than some social media stars have been alive — and the payoff has been huge.
Song, now 36, was an early online adopter – even before Instagram changed the influencer game forever, Song understood how potentially powerful her online presence could be. She launched her eponymous blog, Song of Style, in 2008, as a passion project during her freshman year of college in San Francisco, where she was studying architecture. The site covered all things fashion and design, through Song’s friendly, approachable lens.
Though she’d thought she’d forge a career in architecture, the Los Angeles native’s side hustle quickly took over. And as her site’s audience grew, so did the opportunities. But breaking into the world of high fashion was still difficult. Especially in 2008, when the fashion world was still rolling its eyes at influencers.
“There wasn’t much room for bloggers because we weren’t really considered a job. And in the fashion industry, nobody took us seriously,” Song told Fashionista in 2018. “Even when I was going to my first fashion show, nobody knew what a blogger was. I was sitting sixth row at Betsey Johnson.”
Aimee Song on the street at Paris Fashion Week. Photo: Imaxtree
Song similarly struggled through the early years of brand deals, when brands failed to understand the power of influencers. Instead, Song told Glamour in 2018, she often had to fly herself to her own shoots, and pay her own way for the “ privilege” of working with a brand.
Song said of one early instance, “I styled 12 different looks, did the creative, [modeled], and did a video interview. They said they’d put [me] on their newsletter, credit me as a stylist and a model. But then I was like, ‘Wow, I worked so hard, I had to miss work, and I’m negative in my bank account. What did I actually get out of this?’”
Working for the “exposure” quickly got old, but Song knew that she was on to something.
After Instagram launched in 2010, brands quickly realized the value of having authentic voices praise their products, and offered up big paydays to influencers that could leverage their audiences into sales. The transparency that platforms like Instagram and Twitter provided allowed brands to see exactly how far the reach of these bloggers extended.
Influencers like Song suddenly had as much (if not more) cache as the editors of Vogue — and that made traditional fashion folks bristle as Song and other top style bloggers started showing up in the front rows at fashion week shows. Brands wanted to work with her and pay her — a 2016 sponsorship deal with makeup brand Laura Mercier reportedly netted her $500,000 alone.
“She’s not exclusive [to us]. We want her to be able to work with other brands,” Nancy Bernardini, then-CEO of Gurwitch Products, the parent company of Laura Mercier, told WWD at the time. “We want it to be organic as well — and one of the reasons we chose her was because we knew she organically uses the brand already and is a brand loyalist.” Bernardini and other brand leaders understood that hearing from an authentic voice evangelizing on behalf of the latest Laura Mercier launch could be worth exponentially more than a major ad campaign spend.
From Blogger to Big Time Influencer
Song of Style, the blog, no longer exists, but that’s okay. Song has parlayed her early fanbase into every social media influencer’s dream: Nearly 8 million followers across TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram.
The key to Song’s success is her ability to appear stylish but also accessible. Song often mixes high and low, pairing funky red socks with sparkly Alaia flats, or wearing a Chanel bag with fast fashion pieces from Zara or H&M. Yes, she’ll appear at fashion weeks around the world (Refinery 29 reported that the market value of her NYFW and PFW posts was around $1.9 million), but she’ll also share images of herself goofing around in the snow with her son Teo (granted, most moms are not wearing head to toe Chanel to do this).
It’s this accessibility that’s helped her land brand deals and collaborations with athleisure company Athleta, along with shoe brand Schutz and sunglasses purveyor Gentle Monster.
Her collaborations often run on the higher end of mid-range, but never dip into high-end luxury pricing territory. In 2019, she launched her Song of Style label with online clothing retailer Revolve. A faux fur and leather shearling coat runs $468, while a mohair and wool maxi dress is $248 and has produced several collections under the moniker. It’s a crowded space, but Song told Glossy in June that her aim was to produce clothes that were “wearable and comfortable no matter where you live.”
That dedication to wearable design has paid off. In 2023, Song made a whopping $4.69 million through brand deals, sponsorship programs, and fashion collabs.
Despite this success, Song told Forbes that the pinnacle of her career was pushing Mattel to be more openly LGBTQ-friendly. In 2017, Barbie released a Song-inspired doll and Song insisted that the doll be Barbie’s “girlfriend.” Her doll sports a “Love Wins” tee.
“When I submitted the Love Wins t-shirt as my clothing option, they were completely on board with this decision, and I had never felt so proud and inspired to continue influencing what values we look up to and idolize,” she told Teen Vogue in 2021. “Mattel had never spoken about gay rights, and it was very important for me,” she said. “I’m an ally and I just wanted to make sure that Barbie was an ally.”
Song and her partner Jacopo Mochin welcomed their first child in 2022. But Song has been judicious about how much she shares their son Teo with her audience. Often, fashion and style bloggers transition into the parenting and mommy-blogger space once they have children. But so far, Song has resisted. Instead, she continues to stay true to her brand by focusing on fashion.
In December, she launched an 11-piece limited edition holiday capsule collection with Madewell. Nearly the entire collection sold out in days. Next up? Well, wedding influencing, possibly. She and Mochin plan to wed this year. You can bet her millions of followers will be invited to watch the festivities unfold.