The ‘Where’d You Get That’ Ghost

A niche (random?) observation of mine for many years now relates to how people respond, or don’t, to direct inquiries about where they acquired a specific item of clothing they are wearing in a photo posted online. On the one hand are certain online presences who respond to every single inquiry (or at least appear to attempt to) with helpful information that the inquirer often seems to desperately seek: It’s from The Row! It’s old Zara from like two years ago! They’re the Parker jeans from AGOLDE! My aunt knitted it for me! On the other hand is the approach that frustrates me to a non-insignificant level: the non-response. I’m not limiting this frustration to quote unquote influencers because in my view it’s impolite for anyone to “gatekeep,” in TikTok speak, when you consider that it takes no more than maybe three seconds to hit reply on an Instagram comment (and you don’t even have to do research to respond – you know the answer!). But it does seem worse when influencers do it because, like, you had one job.

Now, I can appreciate that there is, sometimes, a reading comprehension issue with commenters on some of the bigger accounts – if XYZ influencer tags each item she’s wearing and then people are still coming at her with the “where are your jeans from?!”, I can definitely get behind a non-response in that situation. You gotta teach them to fish. Same goes for when XYZ influencer has already responded to one inquiry in the comments; I think the onus is on the inquirer to read through the other comments to see if their question has been answered rather than on the influencer to respond to the same question multiple times.

But what I really can’t get behind is the straight-up ghosting when people are following you and supporting you (oftentimes literally in the world of affiliate links) and they just want to know where you got that damn leather jacket because it looks really cute. Not answering seems quite cold and transactional in the instance of an influencer who will post affiliate links to certain items and then not tag nor answer when it comes to a particular item that she presumably will not make any money off of you copying (e.g., the yellow Alo Yoga set and the puffer jacket from Revolve are carefully tagged but the beanie from the random Norwegian company that doesn’t pay people to post its stuff is not). And, when such ghosting concerns a person who doesn’t make a living off of affiliate links? It seems, um, a bit mean girl (e.g., the stark non-response to an acquaintance from college wanting to know where you got that dress you wore to someone’s wedding). I also want to point out that the non-answering implies an underestimation of how people will take the information when it is about an item that can’t easily be purchased. I have full confidence that if the answer is “it’s super old and the tag fell off” or “it was my mom’s in the 80s” or “it’s vintage,” the followers can handle it. Then at least they know it’s not something they can buy and can move on with their lives (but, extra points in this case if the answer also gives a hint: “they’re vintage and I got them on Etsy by searching ‘Selvedge Levi’s 501′”). In the same vein, the ghosting also happens when the item of concern is jaw-droppingly expensive, as if its reveal will spur some sort of eat the rich revolt in the comments. And again, I think the followers should be given some credit – they can handle the knowledge that the coat the influencer has been wearing is Saint Laurent and a cool $6K. And fine! Influencers’ livelihoods concern wearing beautiful clothes. Just own it.

My sister recently passed along a question from one of her friends about where I bought a particular swimsuit that I wore on my honeymoon. It’s so flattering! I could not have responded more gleefully! Solid & Striped!! Still, I need to caveat all of this by noting that these inquiries only rarely happen to me so I don’t have firsthand insight of being bombarded with questions. And yet! It seems easy enough to tag stuff in your posts/stories on the front end if the issue is truly being backlogged with inquiries.

One final wrinkle in this topic is that I recently started following a TikTok account,, that features a lovely stylist who is all about styling one’s current wardrobe: a sustainable sort of approach focused on re-using key pieces (think black wool trousers and white button-down shirts). She appears steadfast in this point of view and, as a result, does not answer with specific brand information when she is asked about the items she’s wearing even though her stuff is, objectively, very cute. She doesn’t ghost, though; she just answers like this: “They are just a simple straight leg jean! I buy them one size larger to create a bit of a bag.” And she has directly addressed her approach in some of her videos, stating, and I quote, “We’re not here to gatekeep. We’re here to stop promoting overconsumption.” This is an interesting concept and one that she seems wholeheartedly committed to as her feed, from what I can tell, is completely “pure” of any attempts at selling particular products. Rather, what she’s selling is one-on-one styling services. I like this and will put it in an entirely different category, one of which we might all like to see quite a bit more.

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