Is Fashion Ruled by Social Media?
If the Internet revolutionised the way we consume fashion, the rise of social media brought the second wave of changes, establishing new rules in the game.
With the digital revolution, brands have acquired the opportunity to present their own styles and communicate their collections directly to customers. Social media, however, has made everyone a content curator, so now the image of any brand is build of thousands of pieces, published by ordinary users under the brand-tags or store locations. «In essence, the consumer and reader become part of the promotion process for a brand – sharing information online, sending it to contacts and followers, until it is blogged and tweeted about», stated the writer Gwyneth Moore.
The question is, however, what this change actually means. One significant consequence is the boom of digital influencers and fashion bloggers, who gain power by growing their audience, and now attend the key fashion industry events and are treated by fashion houses as well as the chief editors of iconic fashion titles such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, or Marie Claire.
Thousands of young people follow these bloggers to pick the latest trends. Furthermore, they copy their looks and attend the streetstyle meets to share their feelings about the trend. Through social media, the wider range of styles and brands become available, no-name accessories start to mean even more than the branded clothes; while print media have to please their advertisers, in blogs and social media, good taste takes the reign, attracting more attention and bringing the authors the most important social currency – likes, followers, comments, – engagement.
Feeling the threat of new rivals, established fashion houses have also started using social media, to provide customers with access to VIP events and exclusive experiences. All types of content and formats are used by luxurious brands to engage with the audience and regain their authority.
The future is still yet to arrive
Olivier Rousteing, the director of Balmain, calls this trend ‘inclusivity of fashion’, referring to relatively cheap opportunities that social media provide to both the brand and its customers. One of the most successful social media adopters, House of Balmain leads constant social media activity, keeping its hashtag and trends on top. Other brands have also followed this trend.
With all these fundamental changes taking place in the fashion industry, the future is still yet to arrive. Only 15% of fashion sales happen online, and most shoppers still prefer the classic physical stores. However, over 50% of purchasing decisions are based on online research. Such behavior challenges brands to turn shopping into a unique experience, take stands on political, social and cultural issues, and clearly define themselves, both online and in-store, to make people believe in the product and brand behind it. Which brings us to the conclusion: does it really matter what fashion editors say in the age of Social Media?