Social Media. It is unavoidable and a part of everything in the world around us. The rise of social media is having effects on every part of everyday life, more specifically, shaping the identity of industries. The fashion industry has evolved and advanced to keep up with social media and has embraced its power. As a benefit of social media, communication with clients is easier, tasks related to online shopping and marketing have evolved, and new professions are advancing with social media.
Social media has impacted the nature of the fashion industry in relation to communication with clients and tasks within the industry. The fashion industry is very much consumer based, as without clients there would be no turnover of stock and no evolution of designs and trends. Social media has allowed communication and connection with clients to be even easier than before, using marketing and embracing all forms of media. Most fashion retailers embrace social media, an example being Australian name David Jones and Myer, whom livestreamed their collection release, utilising the platforms of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube to allow their audience to feel as if they were at the show (Cassidy, Leah, Kate Fitch. n.d. 8). This tactic will result in a connection with the audience to David Jones and the collection that was released, increasing probable sales of the new release and branding it as a success. This can also remove the stigma of class level and fashion premiers. By livestreaming the show, it is not just restricted to the elite who attended in person to judge and depict the success of the release, it places the audience watching through social media on the same level as the celebrities in the front row, increasing connections between retailer and client (Industry insights and coverage, June 21 2016). However, many retailers are still working without embracing social media. Retailers who are not connected online on at least one social platform are missing out on a connection with their audience.
Tasks within the industry have also changed due to social media. The type of tasks involved in the industry have been revolutionised with the growing and advancing media platforms available. Before the rise of social media, the fashion industry was restricted to retail premises on streets and shopfronts, where everyone shopped. Social media has introduced and influenced the growing popularity of online shopping. This has created a new task in the fashion industry of creating the online store and operating it the same as a physical store, yet with the convenience of shopping from home, a benefit and comfort for the clients. Marketing has also been revolutionised to keep up with the rise of social media power. The fashion industry had always embraced marketing forms of physical advertisements such as magazine articles and posters in shops and on streets. However, social media is the main form of marketing for any product, especially in fashion due to its audience and industry size. Labels are forced to embrace social media marketing to succeed and be recognized by the growing audience available to be reached on social media: “Brands aren’t satisfied with only being seen in your traditional magazines and newspapers. Just to give you an example, we look after the fashion label [brand] and at the end of our Fashion Week campaign, [the designer] was more interested to see what was online and what bloggers were talking about her as opposed to what magazines she was featured in.” (Cassidy, Leah, Kate Fitch. n.d. 12).
Instagram especially, has been a large influence in changing the marketing strategy for the fashion industry, and has revolutionised the connection between labels to social media, to then reach their audience. It is often embraced to display a brands identity and connect with their audience by providing behind the scene snaps and new releases. Managing a label’s social media accounts was never such an important task until this decade, and it is having major benefits for the labels that are embracing it in as many ways as possible.
Social media also has effects on careers in the fashion industry, more specifically the professionals within the industry. Due to the size of the fashion empire, there are multiple professions available and always room for designers constantly bringing new ideas and producing new garments and designs. However, designers need more than just creativity and skills in design, illustration and sewing production. To succeed in the industry, it is crucial for designers to embrace social media as “the designer(s) and brands who realize the true worth of social media are the ones who have massive fan following” (Ahmad 2015, 1).
It is this fan following that defines success in the industry, as it creates a connection between the designer and the clients, which then extends and grows in audience. Skills in social media are a necessity to grow one’s label and to stand even amongst the rest of the fashion market. This also relates back to the Marwick reading, where they state that the web is “teaching their users to be good corporate citizens in the post-industrial, post-union world by harnessing marketing techniques to boost attention and visibility.” (Marwick 2013, 15). This also ties into the idea of marketing forcing companies to fight one another to rule social media for the best retail success. Despite the resounding evidence in favour of social media importance and power, many designers still refuse to embrace or struggle to accept social media into their fashion practise (Cassidy, Leah, Kate Fitch. n.d. 8). This will most likely have a negative effect on the designer and label, as social media is crucial to compete with other designers and retailers on the same level trying to break through the fashion platforms.
As well as advancing designer’s requirement of skills, social media has also created professions within the fashion industry that were never previously available or even necessary. Fashion bloggers are growing in popularity and importance. Brands rely on bloggers to promote labels and are the voice in client’s ears often persuading and influencing decisions and trends. Bloggers are often seen as leaders of the fashion world, and are one form of connection between retailers and their audience (Ahmad 2015, 1). The blogger profession has also become a part of participatory culture: “The participatory culture model is often opposed to the mass media and broadcasting model typical of newspapers, radio and television, where there is one sender and many recipients.” (Fuchs 2014, 2). This reinforces the connection created between bloggers and their audience, which can either benefit or hinder retailers depending on where they sit.
In conclusion, social media has had major effects on the fashion industry in multiple areas. Communication between clients and retailers has been advanced using social media, allowing audiences to be a part of the label’s behind the scene work, or important releases. Tasks within the industry have also been introduced, such as social media managers and marketing through social media platforms. These tasks also aid in promoting labels and further connecting with the clients, providing them comfort and choice. Evolution of professions has also been introduced by social media, such as the growing importance of bloggers, who play a large role in influencing audiences of fashion. It is also a necessity to have skills with social media and all media platforms as a designer or retailer to be able to succeed in the fashion industry. It is with social media, that the fashion industry continues to evolve and advance, as does media itself.
Ahmad, Nawaz. 2015. “The Impact of Social Media on Fashion Industry: Empirical Investigation from Karachiites.” Journal of Resources Development and Management 7: 1-2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/275714886_The_Impact_of_Social_Media_on_Fashion_Industry_Empirical_Investigation_from_Karachiites
Alter, Nicole. 2016. “Four Ways Instagram is Redefining the Fashion Industry.” Industry insights and coverage, June 21. Accessed March 28, 2017. https://www.launchmetrics.com/resources/blog/four-ways-instagram-is-redefining-the-fashion-industry
Cassidy and Fitch. n.d. “Beyond the Catwalk: Fashion Public Relations and Social Media in Australia.” Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal 14 (1): 8-12. https://www.pria.com.au/journal/command/download_file/id/172/filename/APPRJ_Vol_14_No_1-2_Cassidy_Fitch.pdf
Fuchs, Christian. 2014. “Social Media as a Participatory Culture.” Social Media: A Critical Introduction, 1: 2. Accessed March 25, 2017. https://blackboard.qut.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-6739473-dt-content-rid-7988046_1/courses/KCB206_17se1/Fuchs%2C%20C.%202014.pdf
Marwick, A. 2013. “Life in a Free Market.” 15. Accessed April 1, 2017. https://blackboard.qut.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-6737738-dt-content-rid-7983816_1/courses/KCB206_17se1/Marwick%2C%20A.%202013.pdf