By Kristopher Fraser
Instagram has taken off as arguably the world’s most popular social media channel. It has been projected that the number of Instagram users will eventually outnumber the number of facebook users. In an era where businesses need social media in order to be successful, fashion has definitely taken notice.
At last year’s CFDA awards Instagram was the winner of the media award, an award that had traditionally gone to actual people like Scott Schuman and Tim Blanks. It was very telling of the level of respect and necessity the fashion industry places in Instagram to give it an honor from the CFDA who is the pinnacle of fashion power in the United States, and one of the most influential global fashion forces in the world. A brand’s success is no longer measured by just their sales number, but their number of Instagram followers as well.
Gucci’s Instagram account alone has over 5.3 million followers while Dior has 5.9 million. If there is any denying that Instagram is a major influencer in the fashion industry that denial is quickly brought to light by quickly opening the Instagram app on any android or I-phone. Instagram has become so major that one designer even decided to forego hosting a NYFW runway show, and instead had an “Insta-show.”
Misha Nonoo, whose collections can be found in fine department stores like Bloomingdale’s, hosted an Insta-show this year to debut her spring/summer 2016 collection to the world, a new and innovative approach to debuting collections. While the idea of foregoing the glamour of NYFW and the work and attention that goes into a runway show might seem a bit distasteful, but it was actually a brilliant business move. Whereas a traditional runway show will only first be seen by those privileged enough to be invited, and those die-hard fashionistas who will be watching the live show feed to catch the collections of the designers they love the most, an Instagram show is accessible to anyone in the world with an internet connection or smartphone.
Instagram has helped make the public more aware of fashion campaigns, new product offerings, and trends for the season. Instagram has had another major impact of the fashion industry aside from how fashion collections and campaigns are presented as well. If a fashion house wants to ensure that they have a collection that will sell, they’ll also recruit a model with a massive Instagram following for their runway shows and campaigns.
“It girl” Kendall Jenner had a huge Instagram following long before she ever graced the runways for Chanel and Diane von Furstenburg, and of course her modeling career certainly helped boost her Instagram following, but before she started strutting the catwalk for the major fashion brand’s designer knew that she was a girl that could help them boost their social media presence. In an era where companies have entire social media departments as an arm of operation, they are certainly paying attention to what models are the most followed on Instagram, because they know those are the models who will help bring them fans and customers.
It’s now an era where luxury labels are driven by their social media presence. Even smaller independent labels realize just how powerful social media is. Scott Sternberg, the CEO and designer of Band of Outsiders took to Instagram to announce the shuttering of his label with a video of Mama Cass Elliot before he officially announced to any of the major media news outlets the fate of Band of Outsiders.
Instagram has been essential in helping consumers connect with their fashion brands on a more personal level. Before Instagram, the fashion and shopping experience was something you viewed in a mall, perhaps with a sales associate, and was a very self-involved experience. Now, through the power of Instagram, it is possible to connect with other fans of the brands you love around the globe and see what they are commenting or saying about a designer’s latest collection.
Instagram has turned fashion into a globally connected experience instead of just a one-on-one thing between a sales associate at a store and a consumer. Brands are also able to use social media to listen to their consumers to figure out what they want, what the next trends should be, and what will really sell because people are on social media demanding it.
Fashion is a multi billion-dollar global industry, but, thanks to social media it has become more global than ever. Instagram has certainly changed the way that the worlds of fashion and modeling work, but having consumer appeal is easier thanks to it. In the era of the social media age, fashion and Instagram followers have gone hand in hand.