Fashion Forward: How Digital Media is Changing the Fashion Industry

Posted on August 24th, 2016 by REFUGE Categories Blog

By Tiffany Huynh

Constant communication is crucial in today’s world. We’re all fixated on being “plugged in” and on allowing our friends and family to know where we are, what we’re up to, and even what we’re wearing at any given moment. This has only been made easier thanks to online platforms.

Social media has changed not only the way we connect with others, but also the way digital marketing works and the way industries operate. This shift is especially apparent in the fashion industry, which has slowly begun to change as far as what platforms are involved and how brand representatives are picked. Social media gives regular people more autonomy in shaping the fashion industry, and it’s changing fashion marketing.

Blogs/YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram are some of the most popular mediums of influencing fashion today. Fashion blogs and YouTube “fashion gurus” like Teri Cosenzi, Chiara Ferragni, and Zoe Sugg have established their importance in the world of fashion and how brands are advertising. They have built their own unique fan-bases, and have gained the ability to start or boost trends based on what they wear and what they post/discuss. If, for example, my favorite blogger talked about a clothing item and I really liked it, I might go out and purchase it and post on social media about it. Having millions of people talking about the same item or style means that we, as consumers, have the power to drive emerging trends to popularity.

Another thing that is important to note about the role of these women – and other bloggers/YouTubers at large – is that they’re more real, unlike celebrities. They’re not put on some pedestal – they’re authentic and personable and have closer relationships with their fans. Since these digital influencers seem like relatable, normal people, we trust their opinions. This makes blogger endorsements exponentially more powerful. After all, just these three women have a combined reach of over 15 million trusting people. Times are changing, and brands are working with more bloggers instead of celebrities exclusively to reach a broader audience.

For the purpose of a larger reach, Pinterest is a great resource, as it is founded on the concept of people re-pinning content from users that they’re not acquainted with. This allows pinners to quickly launch and spread a trend. All it takes is one person posting a pin. That pin is then recommended to other pinners and each time it is re-pinned, it is recommended to even more pinners. The cycle repeats itself until the pin has been re-pinned countless times across innumerable Pinterest accounts. Along with its influence on styles and trends, Pinterest has tremendously altered marketing in fashion. Pinterest has allowed small businesses like be-jewel, a European fashion boutique, to advertise their products and reach a more obscure audience. In case you aren’t convinced yet, here’s a mind-blowing statistic: a whopping 87% of pinners have seen a pin and gone out to buy it after. Now, with the introduction of buyable pins, it’s even easier. Users can simply buy things they like within the app. These results have garnered Pinterest a lot of respect from brands, leading many to use it as a marketing tool.

Aside from Pinterest, there’s a different photo-based platform that’s, arguably, the most influential platform in fashion currently: Instagram. Insta lets us directly interact with brands or celebrities that we love. We show our support by liking and commenting on photos. This fan engagement lets posters know what kind of content people enjoy seeing. Content creators can even turn to their comment section to see suggestions and gain inspiration from their followers, allowing the public to have a greater influence upon fashion.

Instagram also plays a large role in how brand representatives are being chosen. Burberry faced backlash not too long ago for choosing Brooklyn Beckham, 16, as the photographer for a campaign. Many accused the brand for choosing Brooklyn for his celebrity connections (namely, his parents). However, if you look at his Instagram profile the decision makes sense. Brooklyn has 8 million followers currently. Insta is like his online portfolio, showcasing his camera skills, editing style, and overarching artistic vision – it’s no wonder Burberry reached out to him. Selena Gomez might have also landed partnerships with Pantene and Coca-Cola thanks to her online presence considering she’s the most-followed person on Instagram with 93.1 million followers. She even holds the record for most-liked photo (5.2 million likes) on Instagram, which happens to feature her posing with a bottle of Coca-Cola that has her lyrics on it. These two examples prove that brands are paying attention to social media to change their marketing strategies and maximize their reach.

Overall, it’s clear that the fashion industry is evolving because of social media. Social media is helping the industry open up beyond big-name designers and brands so that average people and aspiring designers have the opportunity to influence fashion and put their work out into the world. This is a positive development in fashion because consumers have always had a lot of opinions. It’s about time brands started listening.

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