Celebrity endorsement of brands shifts products: we don't need Kate Middleton to wear another Whistles dress to prove that. People clamouring for the clothing of celebrities is far from new, but in recent years the internet helps propel the imagery and connect consumers with the products swiftly, creating hype and leading to rapid sell-through. And of course that's exactly how one of the world's biggest fashion e-tailers came into existence, when ASOS stood for As Seen on Screen and their goal was to hook consumers up with similar products to those seen on their favourite stars.

The transparency platforms like Twitter and Instagram have given into the lives of celebrities has been an ideal marketing tool, enticing brands and retailers to pair up; Rihanna's Instagram feed is an endless tribute to her best-selling collection for River Island and we've all got David Beckham's H&M underwear imagery imprinted on our eyelids. Despite the high-cost, celebrity promoting product is practised industry wide, but what's really interesting is the brands and retailers who use celebrity imagery to promote their brand, without an advertising deal, and sometimes without the celebrity even wearing their products.

We've spotted a growing trend in fashion visual merchandising, where retailers are using celebrity paparazzi imagery in much the same way as magazines: selecting an edit of garments which fit in with the 'look' of a celebrity, even though the celeb isn't endorsing their products. In email newsletters this creates the feel of content rather than advert, which many retailers have found to be key in driving return traffic to their site. Once consumers rely upon a site for more than the shopping experience, the retailer has tapped into the rewarding realms of omni-channel.

We've also noticed that it isn't the mass market, normally so closely tied to popular culture, which practices this tactic most often. Instead, it's luxury retailers using celebrity imagery to promote their own selections. Net-a-Porter in the last three months alone has used imagery of Alexa Chung, Miranda Kerr, Olivia Palermo, Karlie Kloss, Kate Moss, Rose Brynethe list extends to 16 'celebrities'. Their choices are varied, ranging from Victoria's Secret models, to Vogue editors and fashion industry mavens. Miranda Kerr - who beats Alexa Chung, Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and even Harry Styles in number of online mentions in the last month - featured in Net-a-Porter's newsletter on the 3rd November, wearing a printed dress similar to the one the retailer suggested from Michael Kors. The 815 dress had been in stock since the 19th September, but following the email one size sold out on the 4th November and another the day after.

My Wardrobe, also a luxury retailer, echoes the findings here. They blend a mix of celebrity imagery with street style - but still neither type of image features specific products they retail. Earlier this month, Miroslava Duma's image graced their homepage wearing a black and white dress the e-tailer did not stock, instead linking through to a selection of statement dresses. Olivia Palermo's imagery was used in a newsletter promoting a 335 checked Marc by Marc Jacobs tunic dress (that she was not wearing). 3 sizes were in stock when the newsletter was sent out on the 11th October and within 7 days the garment had sold out.