There is no doubt Instagram became an amazing platform for storytelling. And as fashion relies heavily on powerful visuals and graphics…well, you feel the match. Eva Chen, Instagram’s Head of Fashion Partnership, explains, “It democratizes fashion. There’s a greater connection to the customer now. Instagram enables brands to build a voice and speak more specifically to their audiences. Designers are not just thinking about the people at the shows.”
The four pillars for Instagram development are the following:
With visual storytelling, fashion brands and retailers are now using Instagram as their primary tool to reveal brand personality. One look at a brand’s Instagram page should easily provide consumers a glimpse into the brand’s culture, lifestyle and products. Apart of revealing the attributes and the world of the brand, its environment and associations, it can give also the customers an insight on what the company and its employees are like, showcasing interesting cultural insights related to the brand positioning. Instagram offers the perfect snapshot of a fashion label’s identity, and nowadays, it has become imperative for successful brands to communicate a unique footprint to their consumers.
One of the most innovative forms of marketing is to let the customer do the selling. Through Instagram, brands can generate high community engagement. The hashtag still proves to be a reliable and important way to increase reach and shows some relevant trends for the brands. So we can observe high community engagement through marketing activations where it’s been asked to the people to generate some content by themselves.
Behind the Scenes of Fashion
Social media has blurred the lines between the once “exclusive” fashion community and the general public. Gone are the days of waiting until the September issue of Vogue or Bazaar to see the latest collection looks. Nowadays, fashion insiders capture the runway looks on their smart phones and share them from the show. Some fashion designers are going beyond that and offering their followers a “behind the scenes” peek.
Instagram has become increasingly shoppable. There are only few steps from the platform. There’s no doubt that Instagram has revolutionized and redefined the fashion industry. It has made the once “exclusive” fashion industry accessible to the public. Furthermore, brands can now craft an identity, create community engagement, and generate return far beyond the rack.
If you still with me until now, we can agree altogether that what I just stated here is common sense and brands are using Instagram’s assets in the proper way. But let’s have a bit of critical thinking here. Obviously instagramers are useful to the fashion industry because they offer another revenue stream for brands and designers, but could they potentially be bad for the industry? Fashion, more than most industries, relies on aspiration and exclusivity. The high fashion brands have pedigree and history. They have an institutional quality to them that’s been built over the course of decades. Instagram is a product of the new millennium. The accessible, grassroots nature of social media makes it less prestigious by default, which risks cheapening the brands that rely on it.
Before the rise of the Internet and the proliferation of social media, the bar of entry into the fashion world was much higher. Anna Wintour isn’t simply a woman with great vista and taste; she’s a qualified journalist. Alexander McQueen was not just someone with superhuman talent for designing clothes; he was the graduate of the world’s most elite school for fashion design. Influencers, on the other hand, are simply the winners of a popularity contest. They haven’t endured the same level of scrutiny from people who know how and what to scrutinize. And now, the first rows of the defiles are just populated with all those ‘new generation’ contestants. It was always striking me that the most popular fashion week was the one from NYC, the one with the less interesting and refined collections but obviously with the biggest population density of worldwide influencers and instagramers.
The keys to the door are now shared between the “establishment” and consumers, but making fashion more accessible corrodes some of its prestige. This idea might be considered a bit old fashioned, not in the wave of modernity. But it’s interesting to have a look to both sides of the coin. Meritocracy should always prevail. The rise of the influencers can compromise the creative vision of the industry, as they influence the future of creativity with pretty much novice eyes. Before the digital era, there was very little discourse between the industry and outside forces: fashion professionals picked the supermodels, dressed them, curated the image and beamed it out into the world. The only way that consumers could have a say was through their purchasing decisions. Their choice of influencer puts the tastes and desires of the consumer into a very public forum that the industry can observe. The end product is created with the consumer in mind. So, in that sense influencers haven’t really changed anything, they’ve only made the voice of the public clearer, louder and more intrusive.
I’m nobody to judge to that extent.