By its very nature, the fashion industry has long been able to present itself as both magnificent and eccentric. This elegantly hides what is in fact an infamously ruthless, frenetic, and inspired industry. Perhaps it is this inherent ability to keep the blood, sweat, and tears concealed that has enabled the fashion world capitalise on the incursion of social media into everyday life.
As marketing is the essence of the fashion industry, it is no accident that an industry defined by being the leading edge of innovation has responded so positively to developments in technology and marketing channels. Social media has been a part of our lives for over a decade but it is constantly evolving. Fashion magazines and high-end brands have successfully taken the opportunity to connect with massive audiences through channels such as Twitter, Snapchat, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram.
The big-hitting fashion houses were quick to see the potential influence of social networking sites and the blogosphere, and some make some decisions to acknowledge this realisation. For instance, last year, there was uproar when Burberry hired Brooklyn Beckham as a campaign photographer, with many assuming it was his famous parents that helped him land the coveted position. However, Burberry soon admitted the decision was due to Brooklyn’s close to 6 million followers on Instagram. One year later, he now has over 10 million followers, showing Burberry’s move to be a shrewd one.
Fashion blogging also became something of a gold rush, with examples such as Chiara Ferragni who started her blog in 2009, and in 2015 became the first blogger to appear on the front cover of Vogue. Her astounding rise to prominence with no formal background in fashion has led to her blog now being worth more than $8 million, with in excess of 500,000 unique visitors every month, and 10.3 million Instagram followers.
As a consequence, the way consumers behave has also changed. Research carried out in the UK by Censuswide for Barnardos in 2015 found that the average modern woman spends £65 per month on clothes, and has prompted a so-called “wear it once” culture. The survey found that the majority of fashion purchases were worn only 7 times, for fear of being pictured in the same outfit twice on social media.
A considerable reason for the success of this power-couple marriage of fashion and social media is the fact there are so many channels for output and consumer interaction. Facebook may reign supreme with overall audience share but the diverse mix of channels has allowed for certain niches to emerge in different places for different style trends. Another signifier of this was in 2013 when cosmetics firm Smashbox moved completely away from traditional print media in favour of digital media, and went on to become parent company Estée Lauder’s second-fastest growing brand.
Of course, the formidable power of social media cuts both ways. Any negative feedback can quickly snowball into viral ridicule. Also, the sheer volume of content has caused a degree of information overload and saturation, making it increasingly difficult for consumers to sort the useful material from the junk. Nonetheless, this is the challenge, and what keeps the savviest brands on their toes to make sure they continue to innovate and stride toward the ever-rolling horizon of modern marketing. The question was once whether a luxury brand should move towards digital marketing. Presently, the dilemma is in what new and inspired ways a luxury brand can innovate its digital marketing. That challenge is now continuous but of all industries, perhaps the fashion industry is the most expert in leading the way.
Are you interested in learning more about the ever-evolving trends in fashion and luxury brands? Prepare for a role in the industry with an MA in Fashion Retail and Luxury Management.