Social media without a doubt has a major impact on the way we view, perceive, desire and purchase the latest designer pieces. If you are a fashion conscious individual who uses Instagram as frequently as I do, it would be almost impossible to say that you haven’t been lured into purchasing an item based on someone else’s photo.
It’s no secret that fashion influencers are infinitely more effective at converting sales when compared with expensive advertising promotions. Brand campaigns with their overtly stylized, editorial looks can often alienate or overwhelm the consumer. This makes it difficult for the average shopper to relate to the product or imagine how they could rework a piece from a current collection into their own wardrobe.
Instagram, however, allows us to see the clothes in a different light. It not only connects us with a myriad of bloggers who are an endless source of inspiration, more importantly it allows us to be privy to purchases of fellow consumers. Seeing someone wear a piece that they have lovingly selected and purchased with their own money is infinitely more powerful than any campaign booklet. The way in which social media connects us with an array of fashion enthusiasts, celebrities, bloggers and influencers alike, has unquestionably revolutionized the way in which we make purchases.
As testament to this, there are quite a few fashion enthusiasts who have inspired me to make my own impromptu designer purchases. An Instagram account run by a dazzling Bulgarian fashionista/chef named Svetlana (@svetikhunt), is one of my favorite examples. This Eastern European beauty showcases her stunning OOTDs, frequently dressed head to toe in the latest Chanel collections. Her front row style and snap shots of what she is wearing on a day-to-day basis are an endless source of inspiration. She is a breath of fresh air on the fashion scene. She shows that it is possible to wear Chanel RTW whilst walking the dog, exploring foreign lands, visiting a farm or saving homeless animals. Without social media, it would be impossible otherwise to connect with incredible people like Svetlana. Why she has inspired me and countless others to add more Chanel RTW into their warbrobe is simple. She has no hidden agenda for sharing her beautiful style, and showcases the wearability of her designer items in an honest and authentic manner. In terms of sales conversions per view, I am certain that Svetlana is more effective than any Chanel campaign.
My personal example of Svetlana is one of millions of cases where a personality on Instagram has touched our lives. Social media has become a very dangerous place for our wallets. However, quite surprisingly Instagram has also influenced the way in which trends are created in a broader sense. As Instagram is such a powerful marketing tool, it is logical to deduce that the most eye-catching fashion photos are the ones that do best from a marketing perspective. Most importantly, in order for content to achieve this, an Instagram photo needs to compete against the many other pictures it’s pitted against on the explorer page or hashtags. When vying for this coveted attention, a photo is only allotted a tiny square space on a smart phone screen. It's not much to work with at all. Therefore to attract views and entice the Instagram user to click into the picture, maximum visual impact is essential. Brands are quickly learning if they want popularity on the Instagram scene, they need to design clothes based on what looks attractive in a small square photo.
Consequently, the most popular styles appear to be the ones that create the most visually impactful imagery. Take Gucci for example. One massive element to their recent success is how well their clothes perform on social media. If you want to gain massive amounts of views on a photo and have no problem looking like a human peacock, then look no further than Alessandro Michele’s flamboyant designs. Photos containing Gucci are essentially "like" magnets. With an overload of ornamentation mixed with an unhealthy dose of the eclectic, their bright and painfully colourful range is destined for commercial and social media success. In an Instagram obsessed fashion world, the clothes and accessories scream the all-important “LOOK AT ME”. This in turn attracts more views, generates more sales and encourages the fashion house to keep pumping their outrageous designs season after season.
The “WTF” designs of Gucci are some of the most extreme “mainstream” examples. However, if you look at the latest trends in a broader sense, you will see that this logic still stands true. Bell sleeves, cheap fishnets and an overload of ruffles are a few that instantly come to mind. It is much easier to create beautiful, eye-catching content with attention seeking, voluminous and textural pieces like these.
What I have noticed is that there are 2 infallible ways to gain attention on Instagram – post something outrageously expensive that most people dream of owning, or wear something so outlandish that people can’t look away. This creates a system where the most outrageous trends are promoted. Consequently the widespread publicity of visually flamboyant trends reaches the masses, who then catch on and ultimately start making purchases. Given the amount of commercial success, brands then continue to design more even more outlandish items, which in turn feeds into this cycle.
The problem is that when everyone is engaging in this peacock style behavior, there’s going to come a point where everything implodes on itself. With an overall message of “go big or go home” being communicated on social media, we are losing touch with what is truly beautiful and sophisticated. Personally I think it’s a shame that the elegance of a beautifully tailored silk chiffon shirt is often lost in the small viewing square of Instagram. The sad reality is that most people’s eyes are drawn first to the ostentatious peacock, rather than the elegant swan.