How Social Media Has Changed The Fashion Industry


When I was a 16-year-old, my main focus was obtaining my driver’s license, getting my first car, winning the state championship in track & field, and excelling in school. I was never really into fashion because I was generally unaware of what was "cool" unless I saw it on 106 & Park or in the pages of J-14 (remember those?). 

However, my 16-year-old brother seems to want everything in sight. For Christmas 2017, he asked me for a $300+ MCM belt. He has expensive taste to be so young, but in today's connected world, it doesn't surprise me one bit as teens of the '10s are so different from teens of the '90s and '00s.

In this social media age, we’re able to see what our friends and favorite personalities are wearing and actually know where and how to purchase it effortlessly. Once pictures from an event or red carpet hit the 'net, they are immediately posted on Instagram with brand tags. The brand’s social accounts do the same and may even include a link to directly purchase the item.

While I didn’t know what $300+ belts were available for purchase in 2006, my brother can now search the Instagram hashtag #designerbelt to see many of them from popular and independent brands. In my opinion, this shows me that fashion isn’t as exclusive as it used to be.

Since social media is more of my domain, I decided to reach out to a few of my most fashionable friends to get their take on the social media and fashion blend of this day and age.

Social media and fashion have grown to be one of the best collaborations to exist today. The variety of social media platforms has allowed fashion inspirations to be at the fingertips of many who seek daily inspiration. As a fashion stylist, there is no doubt that social media continues to contribute to pathways for creatives such as myself to not only expose their work, but to also book clients and work with small and large brands with such convenience.
— Ashley Barnett of ABarnett Style
Ashley Barnett  of  ABarnett Style  styling a model wearing @ chavonshree . Photography by  Gregg Cestaro .

Ashley Barnett of ABarnett Style styling a model wearing @chavonshree. Photography by Gregg Cestaro.

Fast Fashion on Social Media

Once upon a time, the average consumer found it difficult to find pieces that were seen on runways around the world due to high price points and an overall lack of access. This is where I believe stylists came into play. Their connection with the designer mixed with their unique taste birthed an ability to take a look into a whole new direction and influence fashion discussion as well as trends.

Now thanks to the concept of fast fashion, we see clothing, shoes, and accessories that mimic pieces from the world's top fashion houses in stores like Forever 21 and clothing sites like Fashion Nova. With new items being debuted daily, these companies are able to update the masses and continue to thrive thanks to visual-focused social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and tumblr. It now seems like stylists have way more items to choose from and a whole new crop of clientele. 

Social media has not only changed the way that we consume information, but it has also shifted the way we think about fashion. Due to social media platforms, new trends are being created every day and these trends spread a lot faster due to the platforms’ ability to connect people from different parts of the world. Social media has also made it possible for influencers and entertainers to start getting the attention of major fashion houses who collaborate with these people in order to market to a different audience. Social media has given brands a creative platform to market their products and gain new business.
— Charles Royals
Charles Royals  is wearing  Yeezy Season 3  Burnt Sienna Military Boots,  Embellish  Ghost Cargo Biker Denim “Olive” pants, a vintage Mayweather vs. Pacquiao tee, a thrifted flannel,  Jean Paul Gaultier  56-3281 “Forks” frames, and a  Gucci  GG Supreme Messenger Bag.

Charles Royals is wearing Yeezy Season 3 Burnt Sienna Military Boots, Embellish Ghost Cargo Biker Denim “Olive” pants, a vintage Mayweather vs. Pacquiao tee, a thrifted flannel, Jean Paul Gaultier 56-3281 “Forks” frames, and a Gucci GG Supreme Messenger Bag.

Easy Purchasing with Instagram and Pinterest

I'll get back to Fashion Nova in a minute, but first I want to dive into Instagram shopping.

Early last year, I began noticing that Kate Spade and Kendra Scott were tagging their products on Instagram by adding descriptions and prices. With just a tap and then a few clicks, I was able to visit the shopping page of the item being featured and purchase it instantly. In that moment, I felt as if I was gaining access to an item before others had the opportunity to even learn about it.

I'm patiently waiting for more brands to dive into this in order to take the guesswork out of locating a specific item online, but Instagram seems to be pretty selective with the brands they are gaining access to for now.

Kendra Scott with shopping access on Instagram in  May 2017 .

Kendra Scott with shopping access on Instagram in May 2017.

While I'm not huge on Pinterest, their shopping pins have also made purchasing the latest trends seamless. With 100+ million unique active users per month, it's easy to see why the photo platform decided to make it easy for their "pinners" to make purchases. In a recent survey, 90% of participants said Pinterest helps them decide what to purchase.

Not having the ability to purchase items on Pinterest opened up the door for other platforms such as Keep to test drive the feature. While they're not technically social media platforms, Poshmark and Etsy have also made it easy to aggregate many fashionable items into one place and allow small businesses to sell directly to consumers.

In many ways social media has democratized fashion - difference sizes, price points, and specialized styles are more accessible to the masses. What we can see and then almost instantly buy on a phone screen has changed how the fashion industry moves. Fashion Week shows factor in social media now more than ever as designer styles are duplicated within weeks of hitting the runway, and the “fashion icon” spotlight shines on those who get the most likes and #sponsored deals. For better or for worse, the playing field is far more leveled now. Everyone has a chance to win the fashion game their own way. I’m fascinated to see how this all plays out as social media continues to evolve!
— Simone Suber of Suber Media
Simone Suber  of  is wearing a  Forever21  Mens top,  NIKE  Mens pants,  ZARA  shoes,  ASOS  sunglasses. Photography by  Krishanni Smith .

Simone Suber of is wearing a Forever21 Mens top, NIKE Mens pants, ZARA shoes, ASOS sunglasses. Photography by Krishanni Smith.

Fashion Nova, Yeezy and Influencer Marketing

It's difficult to visit YouTube and Instagram these days without noticing users advertising clothing. Simply taking a look at the #sponsored or #ad hashtags on Instagram will bring up millions of pieces of content with many that include celebrities who received compensation for wearing an item, and "regular" people who were given items for free in exchange for promtion. YouTubers are also notorious for being provided products for review or highlight segments and then including links to purchase the item in the description of their video.

One brand that does influencer marketing particularly well is Fashion Nova. The company currently has 11.6 million followers on Instagram and has grown significantly over the past few years thanks to partnerships with big celebs like Cardi B and Kylie Jenner as well as lesser-known celebs and personalities like Daphne Joy and Olivia Pierson. Since the brand releases about 600 items weekly and posts on Instagram a dozen times each day, it's easy to see how they're able to quickly get the word out about new products.

Social media has really revolutionized the way the fashion industry works in my opinion. It has opened up doors for another major category of blogging, and influencers with thousands of followers are becoming more and more crucial to a company’s marketing and PR success. Just a couple of years ago, companies didn’t have social media managers, or even a budget to account for influencers to promote their brands. Now, most brands and companies have both. Social media has given companies and brands another outlet to reach consumers on a much personal level. If you take a picture and tag the clothes or shoe brands that you are wearing, the social media manager from that brand can like and comment on the picture. I think this builds brand loyalty on a much personal level.
— Cindy Velasquez of CindyRoxana
Cindy   Velasquez  of  CindyRoxana  is wearing a  Nasty Gal  top, a  Topshop  leather jacket,  One Teaspoon Jeans ,  Zara  shoes and a    Goyard  bag. Photography by  Deeana Beckley .

Cindy Velasquez of CindyRoxana is wearing a Nasty Gal top, a Topshop leather jacket, One Teaspoon JeansZara shoes and a Goyard bag. Photography by Deeana Beckley.

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have also helped change the way influencers are viewed on the fashion scene. As a huge fashion and social media influencer herself, Kim is able to wear a designer's piece of clothing (or "wear" her own fragrances and makeup), mention it on her social platforms, and then have it sell out instantly. The team over at Yeezy recognized her talent long ago and decided to try something a little different when it came to launching Yeezy Season 6.

Without slots at New York or Paris Fashion Week, many wondered what Kanye was up to and how he would creatively drop the new pieces from his line. Many were surprised once Kim started casually posting items from the line (unbeknownst to some) on Instagram with a mix of "paparazzi" photos that were then posted in a zine.

Finally, Yeezy was able to spread the word about the new drop thanks to social media stars like The Clermont Twins, Paris Hilton, and Sarah Snyder posting photo replicas of Kim's tumblr-esque photos on both Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #YeezySeason6. I can't wait to see how other big brands use social media to market their upcoming lines off the runway.

Social media’s impact on the fashion has completely morphed both the circulation of fashion trends and the buying process for consumers. From a designer’s standpoint, social media has expanded the platform in which styles and trends are introduced - opening up fashion outside of the various fashion weeks around the world and popular magazines. From a consumer’s standpoint, the use of social media as a way of marketing has changed the way we search, discover, style, and ultimately decide to buy fashion. Reading the opinion of an influencer with a similar style, shape, and values as yourself is now another part of the decision process to buy certain brands and styles.
— Lauren Caldwell
Lauren Caldwell  is wearing  Citizens of Humanity  jeans, a  Zara  bodysuit, and a  Givenchy  purse.

Lauren Caldwell is wearing Citizens of Humanity jeans, a Zara bodysuit, and a Givenchy purse.

What's Next for Modeling?

With everyone seemingly having access to designer items and an iPhone X, there's a lot of modeling happening on social media. While the days of discovering true talent in shopping malls may have changed, a whole new crop of talent is popping up online and giving designers and brands the ability to directly reach out without needing a middleman thanks to emails in Instagram bios and viral Twitter photos.

Traditional models now seem to be competing with "Instagram models" who have no true experience with walking on a runway and posing simply due to a unique look and social media clout. On the other hand, social media has given access to models of all shapes and sizes and allowed designers to find diverse models for their lines.

Social media has allowed people to get equal representation in the field they desire and designers can capitalize off of the free marketing it brings. Though true, not everyone is fit to be a doctor, a lawyer, etc, as there are certain qualifications necessary. The same goes with modeling. However, social media has given people the platform to showcase their personal style.
— Arielle Chambers
Arielle Chambers  is a model with  3BBM .  Learn more about her at .

Arielle Chambers is a model with 3BBM.  Learn more about her at

Redefining Men's Fashion

Fashion has always appeared to be focused on women's clothing, shoes, and accessories. When most think of the industry's top models, the thought of a male model is a second thought, which is what makes the fashion industry so unique. In my opinion, social media has changed the view of men's modeling and allowed it to become more popular than ever before thanks to hashtags like #dappermen and #meninsuits. We're seeing guys feel more confident to show off their style than ever before.

I remember growing up during a time in which if you wanted to keep up with the latest trends you would have to purchase a magazine. Now with social media, there are a plethora of ways to stay up to date and in style. I’m currently working with several up and coming brands, in which social media has been a tremendous help to their business due to the marketing aspect that allows them to engage with consumers on an intimate and interactive level.
— Sage Raphael
Sage Raphael  is wearing a  Topman  suit,  Aldo  shoes, a  Men's Warehouse  shirt and a tie from  Macy's . Photography by  John Marcus .

Sage Raphael is wearing a Topman suit, Aldo shoes, a Men's Warehouse shirt and a tie from Macy's. Photography by John Marcus.

Rachel Zoe said it best: Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak. While some of us have similar personal styles, it's the way we discover and display them, on and off social media, that allows us to uniquely shine.

How do you think fashion has evolved thanks to the social platforms we know and love? What's your go-to platform to learn more about what's hot and what's not? Let me know in the comments!