fashion forward season four social media and fashion

There’s no denying that social media has revolutionised the fashion industry. From live streams to Instagram posts, fashion has never been so instant but is it for the better, asks Sharon Hughes, London College of Fashion Tutor and Online Marketing Consultant, who is hosting a talk about social media and the fashion industry at Fashion Forward Season Four.

It’s only 11am and thanks to I have been transported to Ellie Saab’s spring/summer 2015 fashion show from my US office; purchased a new dress I’d placed in my wish list last week; tweeted with fashion blogger Zahra Lyla Pedram (@ZahraLyla) to arrange her appearance on a blogger panel in Dubai; posted an #OOTD on Instagram – couldn’t resist; viewed a few of my favourite boards on Pinterest for a little street style inspiration; and wished three of my family and friends a happy birthday on Facebook. It’s been a busy morning!

Although social media has annexed my world and the lives of many others, moving us at the rate of high speed car racing at times, we are proving more and more each day with each phone app and social media platform that we really wouldn’t have it any other way. Nevertheless, it is the fashion community that has taken note of this invasion, most notably around 2009, and started shaping the world of fashion we immerse ourselves in today. Consumers started using social media for wardrobe advice, fashion trends, news and inspiration (thanks to bloggers, emerging designers and online magazines) and brands followed.

It is safe to say that social media has not only shaped the fashion industry, but has given everyone in it ‘access’, a voice, a vision and anyone’s arena for 15 minutes of fame and self-expression; from Twitter to Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Keek and fashion blogs, such as Ghalia Mohammed (@vogueoverdosed) and Nadya Hasan (@thefierce_nay).

As Instagram sets the trend for catalyst to a selfie nation, it is also where social tribes and ‘creatives’ find inspiration; personable lifestyle platforms from designers (Who else loves @ToryBurch photos with her boys?) to what’s new at retailers like Harvey Nichols Dubai. Still that place for instant news and live event streaming – if you weren’t physically at fashion week(s), follow the hashtags and Twitter can tell you who was and what happened – live. You never have to miss a beat.

Facebook has seemingly become the micro-website for new 21st century designers and retailers and a digital platform for advertising campaigns for existing ones, as instant access and engagement with potential and existing customers is inevitable. Marc Jacobs is one of the most active brands on social media. Just recently he launched a pop-up concept store in NYC to promote his Daisy fragrance. Products were exchanged for Facebook posts, tweets and Instagram photos. We (the social and digital media analysts that is) are now calling this “social currency”. This is not the first time MJ set a new precedence. Remember the Louis Vuitton spring/summer 2010 live streaming Facebook fashion show?

But more impressively was the controversy, now acceptance of entrepreneurial fashionistas with FROW rewards and lucrative blogger-brand partnerships. Popular vlogger, Bethany Mota (over 6.5 million subscribers) receives between US$500,000-750,000 annually from ads that run against her videos on Youtube and now has a clothing collection with Aeropostale. With social media almost anyone in the fashion community could become a brand.

Everyone wakes in the morning and makes a very important decision, “what will I wear?” It has become the job of savvy marketers with innovative social media strategies to direct those decisions globally. How else would we know about street style in Sweden or decide whether the new Louboutin nail collection is worth the buy (thanks @hudabeauty for the full review).  Has social media shaped the fashion industry, Yes! With a hashtag here and a post there, the industry is responding with open platforms and avenues for us to be seen, heard and followed.

Sharon Hughes’ Beyond Social Media: 2015 Trends For Fashion Business Professionals at Fashion Forward Season Four is at 7pm on October 5.