As technology advances continue to increase, the use of social media and its influence will become an increasingly major aspect of a consumer’s life. The Fashion Industry, in particular, is an industry where social media plays an important role on its consumers. Through its instantaneous effect, the Fashion Industry can release content on several platforms and therefore, strategically market and advertise their newest styles and trends. (Carranza, 2015). This is further supported by Ahmad, Ashiq & Salman (2015), stating that “the Fashion Industry is using social media to study trends and anticipate fashion behaviours.” By creating accounts on various platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter; the Fashion Industry has transformed into a more personalised and approachable appeal. However, the use of social media has also created further implications which have impacted the industry. These include:
1. Facilitating change in the nature of the Fashion Industry.
2. Facilitating change in the nature of the relationship between the professionals and clients/ audience.
3. Facilitating change in professionals who work in the Fashion Industry.
Facilitating change in the industry itself.
One significant factor that has facilitated change in the Fashion Industry is convergence and the effects it has. According to Flew (2014), convergence is a “technological process bringing together multiple media functions within the same devices.” Adding to this, convergence is a process in which can be categorized into four-dimensions – technological, industrial, social, and textual (Flew, 2014). Through the analysis of convergence, it can be stated that social convergence has substantially impacted the Fashion Industry.
Social convergence, as defined by Flew, is the development of multiple social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. This form of convergence has affected change in the Fashion Industry as it has given companies another way to communicate to their audiences. Fashion labelled companies are now more inclined to branch out to multiple social media platforms and become effective members. With this demand, social convergence has transformed the Fashion Industry as it has developed new jobs and therefore, increased job opportunities. Additionally, with social convergence, companies are now able to reach more audiences and strategically use “…social media as a promotional, [marketing and advertising] tool” (Ahmad, Ashiq & Salman 2015)
An example that has successfully used social convergence for their benefit is the trending Australian young-adult label, Princess Polly. Through its use of social convergence, Princess Polly has a combined audience of over 900, 000 followers*. By being active and socially connected to their audiences, Princess Polly has created a more personalised connection. Thus, loyalty of their consumers has become more prominent – resulting in an increase in good reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations to other consumers (Flew, 2014).
* Numbers collated from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter platforms.
Facilitating change in the nature of the relationship between the industry professionals and clients/ audience in the industry.
Social media has transformed the relationships between the Fashion Industry’s professionals and audience as it has cultivated a form of participatory culture. This culture can be defined as a form of consumer-collaboration, where consumers have an opportunity to customize a product and personalise it on their behalf (Fuchs, 2014). This form of participation develops an emotional link to a product and as a result, produces loyalty and sales in return (Fuchs, 2014).
An example of participatory culture in the Fashion Industry was the White Fox Boutique collaboration with YouTuber and social media influencer, Shani Grimmond. Throughout this process of participatory culture, Shani Grimmond had the opportunity to customize her own range of bikini line under the White Fox Boutique’s swimwear brand, Fox Swim. In return, a YouTube video advertising the line, several promotions on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook posts were made. By contributing in this participatory culture dynamic, both the influencer and the company gained benefits – the company brought awareness to their specific target market and gained sales (with the potential of new loyal customers) and the influencer gained an opportunity to create a product from her vision, whilst also earning revenue.
This is not the only example of participatory culture in social media and the Fashion Industry. Today, many fashion labels seek out influencer's with large social media platforms to promote their brand. Influencer's can choose items from businesses to promote and advertise posts for Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and YouTube.
Sammy Robinson, for example, is known to be a lifestyle and beauty YouTuber and an influencer on Instagram. This influence is recognised by companies such as Sportsgirl and Topshop as she has become sponsored by these major fashion labels.
Another significant example is Tammy Hembrow. Her influence on Instagram, with more than 6 million followers, is recognised by multiple labels. In return, Tammy promotes a wide range of fashion labels – in which, a substantial amount is earned by the uploads of her promotional photos.
Through the analysis of participatory culture and the Fashion Industry, it is evident that social media has had a major influence in the relationship between the industry professionals, clients and audiences. The Fashion Industry has majorly transformed into a more participatory inclined culture, where fashion labels are constantly recruiting social media influencers to promote their brand.
Facilitating change in professionals who work in the industry.