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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!