Has Social Media Redefined The Fashion Industry?

Has social media redefined the fashion industry?

In recent years, in the worlds of music and fashion, ‘likes’ have become essential to a clothing brand’s or artist’s overall success. When users like or comment on an image, this is now what solidifies the success of a campaign, as opposed to gaining exposure through traditional methods such as billboards and television advertisements. Together with Trilogy Stores, retailers of designer cropped jeans, we investigate how and why social media is having such a significant impact on the world of fashion: 

Beyoncé holds the title for the most likes 

Previously, the title was held by Selena Gomez at 6.7 million likes – as an advertisement for Coca Cola. On June 25th 2016, Gomez posted a picture of herself holding a bottle of coke, wearing a matching red racer top with red nails. 

However, the Queen of Pop has officially taken that title away from Gomez. Beyoncé now leads the way within the worlds of music and fashion and claimed the most liked title. When Beyoncé posted herself with a picture of her baby bump on February 1st 2017, she gained 11m likes, a dramatic increase of 4.3m on Gomez’s record. 

If celebrities can gain so much attention and engagement from one single post, how is social media influencing and changing the way the fashion industry operates to suit millions of users every day?

What comes first, the model or the followers?

Gone are the days where a model’s success is founded on their popularity on the catwalk and in photoshoots…

The model

At the age of just 15, Naomi Campbell got her first break which then led to her gracing the covers of Time magazine, French Vogue, Russian Vogue, and was also the first black model to appear on the cover of British Vogue. Her success then, is based on how long she has been in the industry and how popular she has become over the years based on this fact, which has meant she is now known as one of first five original supermodels. 

However, times have now changed and the industry almost looks unrecognisable. Kendall Jenner, currently the world’s most popular and in-demand model, was already famous before she became the model she is today. By appearing on Keeping Up with the Kardashians, her involvement with the world’s most televised family still has a direct impact on her popularity on social media, and consequently, her exposure within the world of fashion. 

The followers

Jenner secured the top job as the face of global cosmetics giant Estee Lauder because she was guaranteed to reach over 81.6 million followers. Her social media accounts guaranteed a level of success during the cosmetic or fashion campaign – this is because the face of that campaign is already a success as the ‘ultimate Instagirl’ or boy in their own right, which encourages the industry to choose these popular faces over newcomers who haven’t already had their first break. 

The young model has not been the only Instagrammer to be scouted because of their followers. When Burberry discovered that Brooklyn Beckham had 5.9 followers in 2016 – now 10m – he was chosen to photograph Maddie Demaine for Burberry’s Brit fragrances ad campaign. After being chosen over many professional photographers in the industry, this created a new precedent within the fashion industry. Now, fashion campaigns can be dictated by the level of followers a particular model or person has, not their knowledge of the industry or their contributions to popular culture outside the online world of social media. It’s not just the model that needs social media leverage, even the backstage team (make-up artists, stylists, and producers) need to be known on social media before they can be involved in a major fashion shoot. 

Changing consumer behaviours

Evolving tradition 

Whilst the fashion industry was once an exclusive ‘private members club’, times have changed and fashion houses now use apps such as Instagram to boost their campaigns – and this has now been shown to boost sales too. By turning the traditional fashion industry on its head, which has been built on exclusivity, social media is beginning to change this. By portraying fashion online in this way, the feel of the campaign looks more casual – as though users are being exposed to this secretive world for the first time. 

Buying the image

Fashion houses are now integrating their brand with online brands to boost customer engagement. Burberry was the first fashion house to stream their catwalk online, and in some instances, guests at the show were able to buy a garment on their smartphone as soon as the model walked past them. As well as this, to debut their spring/summer collection in 2016, Burberry previewed it on social media platform snapchat before its official release. 

Michael Kors is another fashion house which has utilised social media to push their campaign out to their audience. Taking advantage of integrating their fashion campaign alongside their buying platforms online by using smart hashtag campaigns. Michael Kors sent an email to users who liked their products with the link to buy the product online, with the hashtag #InstaKors. Through considered hashtag campaigns such as these, fashion houses are able to bridge the gap between a fashionable image, and their ability to buy the product. 

With higher levels of engagement on Instagram, fashion houses are starting to increase their product portfolio online, and they are growing their online sales faster than competitors that aren’t taking advantage of online social platforms. If companies within the luxury brand market are unable to take advantage of how consumers are interacting online, in the future, they may lose out to their competitors who are. 

Do you think the fashion industry has changed due to social media?

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