The introduction of social media is the largest change the fashion industry has ever seen. Our fashion media consumption has made a complete 180 since the founding of Instagram in 2010. It’s a major contributor to a lot of the controversies we see today in the fashion industry like fast fashion, influencer marketing and brand honesty.
Instagram is considered a “live magazine” making previous media forms outdated. Social media is a space where brands can curate their accounts to match the brands image as a way to draw in potential customers. It has proved to be a highly successful form of contemporary marketing for many brands, and best of all, it’s free!
The rise of social media has permitted a closer than ever relationship between consumers and companies. In the last few years we have seen the success of ultra-transparent brands. This can be defined as a brand that lets their audience in on previously taboo business topics. Sometimes this means being honest about how they produce their garments, or even working directly with their customers to design products. Partially thanks to social media, customers engaging with their liked brands on their social media at such a personal level makes them feel like they are a part of something. For one to feel involvement in a brand means extended loyalty.
The casual behaviour of social media permits a friendly relationship between brand and consumer. Brands today can be seen interacting with their followers through private messages or even in comment sections. Small business Maison Cleo is a leader in building an honest brand. Their social media is run by their founder Marie Dewet. A short visit to her story section will show you how communicative she is with each of her loyal followers. This small business is made up of less than ten people and thus she turns to her following for design advice. Oftentimes asking, ‘does this look better long or short?’ or ‘ what should we make from this fabric?’. Her brand is the epitome of a close consumer-brand relationship. With the rise of sustainability needs, customers appreciate the full knowledge they get from transparent companies like Maison Cleo.
High fashion brands thrive off their perceived exclusivity. It is in their prices and marketing tactics to cater to one type of person. Surprisingly, instead of this lowering their profit it increases it. From the get-go, luxury brands were late to joining in on the social media fun, due to fear of being ‘too available’. Having accessible spaces where their non target audience can taint their brands image was a big concern. Even now, Hermes has yet to make their infamous Birkin Bag available online to maintain exclusivity. As the public has taken well to online shopping and social media brand accounts, luxury fashion houses had no choice but to adapt, but they still do it much differently than regular retail stores. High end brands have managed to create a balance between accessibility and exclusivity by creating an alluring space, where one can look but not touch. Social media has almost replaced every other media facet we have created in fashion. Red carpets, mall shopping and runways are all moved online for everyone to enjoy.
Like always, mainstream trends have always been dictated by big names in the media. The only difference is now, images circulate on the internet, versus before we would read about red carpet looks in magazines for style inspiration. Many studies have been conducted on the effects of influencers on brand engagement. Influencers can be separated into two different categories, the micro influencer, and the microcelebrity.
Micro-influencers are defined as small scale internet personalities. They are often regarded as more relatable and honest and thus create authentic brand endorsements. An audience will usually believe that they have spent their hard earned money on a product and therefore will give a fair judgement to their audience as compared to macro celebrities.
Macro-Celebrities are big names in social media that garner lots of attention. To our knowledge many receive hundreds of products in promotional packages that they usually don’t pay for. Many celebs have been caught endorsing products they have never tried or don’t believe in. This reputation has tarnished the reliability of their online opinion. Despite this they still bring in lots of traffic to the brands they publicize due to their large following.
Although neither is better or worse, the micro and macro influencers provide different product perspectives that ultimately drive lots of traffic to brand pages.
Similarly to how we would update our status on MySpace, and include our fav songs on our profile, we can follow brands we identify with. The mutual engagement we have with online companies is a signifier of our congruence with the brand. Showing our support is almost like publicly saying, ‘I relate my aesthetic, to your aesthetic’ and thus their following becomes a highly curated target audience.
Thanks to social media, trends can move faster than ever and die faster than ever too. Fashion has moved from the two standard seasons, spring/summer and fall/winter, into 52 micro seasons. The introduction of micro seasons is thanks to social media in part, but also cheap manufacturing. Both go hand in hand to make this mass production possible for companies. In turn, customers feel inclined to purchase more clothes, and more often to compensate for the fast moving trends. Popular documentary, The True Cost would define this as a cycle of “careless production and endless consumption”. On top of all of the factors listed above, our constant social media engagement with fashion brands keeps shopping in the forefront of our heads.
Social media has become an asset to many for educating themselves on current events. People are forced to confront world issues online when in conversation with people of differing perspectives. In the fashion industry, social media has brought some questionable changes to the table (like fast fashion) but it’s also responsible for the sustainability revolution of these past few months. Instagram, twitter and facebook spread info like wildfire and can invoke big changes to the fashion industry, and that’s it’s biggest advantage. We have our phones to thank for teaching us something new everyday.
Via ÀLA.HAUSSE‘s Multi-functional and Multi-purposeful Fashion Ecosystem- BUY/SELL/RENT/LEND/ (swap BETA 2021) mobile application, INDIVIDUALS & brands ( BETA 2021) are encouraged to REBUY, RESELL, REUSE and UP-CYCLE their personal “Clossets” aka Clothing Assets, along with overstock inventory and samples. Through this consumerism habit shift we indirectly slow down the urgency on fashion’s carbon footprint, aiding sustainability as a whole.
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