In recent years, fashion has undergone a revolution which can be viewed in both positive and negative ways. Lifestyle Editor Laura Cox takes a look at the ways in which social media, with a particular focus on Instagram, has changed the way the fashion industry functions.
Is fashion becoming more inclusive?
With the rise of social media platforms including YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, fashion has, in a way, become open to everyone with a smartphone. London Fashion Week shows aren’t closed off from the public anymore; you don’t have to be an A-list celebrity or a hotly-tipped blogger in order to view the newest collections at the moment they emerge onto the runways. Topshop, in particular, is known for the ways in which it invites those from ‘outside’ the fashion industry to access its shows. In February last year, its Unique A/W 15 show could be streamed, for free, from the Topshop.com website. In this way, the exclusivity of the show is reduced; by watching a live stream , industry insiders and fashion fans alike view the new collections at the same time. Print publications used to be the first way for the public to view the new season’s collections.
Similarly, Instrgram has a huge part to play in opening up fashion to the public. Still images, not only from fashion shows, but also from press days, offer potential buyers the chance to view pieces long before they hit the shop floor. This can be an important way of securing interest and customers for when the pieces do drop; however, Josh Newis-Smith, fashion editor at Grazia, also warns of the risk that Instagram can make trends seem outdated when they reach stores, if customers have interpreted them independently six months’ previously. Newis-Smith, speaking to the BBC, suggests that customers “don’t want a trend six months down the line anymore, they want it at their finger tips. [F]ashion editors can no longer expect customers to be interested in something they saw on Instagram six months ago.”
How has Instagram impacted on fashion blogs?
The visual nature of Instagram makes it a perfect forum for fashion fans and trend seekers. Jess Cartner-Morley, fashion editor at the Guardian, claims that “Instagram sets the fashion agenda.” While, in recent years, the rise of bloggers has impacted hugely on the fashion industry, it could perhaps be suggested now that Instagram is overtaking personal blogs as a source of fashion inspiration. It provides access to a huge wealth of images, the ability to search for particular trends (for example ‘#Victoriana’) and allows users to connect with one another by becoming part of a global fashion and photography community. However, although it could be seen to detract attention from the more traditional blog format, Instragram can also be seen as beneficial to bloggers, as it provides them with a vast platform from which they can attract new followers. The visual nature of Instagram means that it can move much more quickly than traditional blogs; while a blog post might take a few hours to write, edit and format, a snap can be edited, uploaded and ‘liked’ within only a matter of seconds.
Is social media pushing fashion to move too quickly?
It’s true that social media has revolutionised the way we live, and the fashion industry is no exception. Newis-Smith says that we are living in an age of “fast fashion and it’s only getting faster. Fashion changes are going at a relentless pace and at some point it needs to slow down.” There’s also potentially the risk that fashion might become more disjointed, with no place for defined trends within a season, if the work of designers has already been interpreted a few months back. However, this could also be seen to be liberating; with the importance of Instagram-led trends continuing to rise, there is no need to depend on magazines to provide the latest trends, or even any necessity to follow trends anymore. Instagram trends can begin much more quickly than a traditional designer-led trend. In a way, the roles are gradually being reversed; designers must be able to keep up with quickly emerging trends, rather than having the exclusive power to dictate exactly what those trends are.