Until recently, the world of designer fashion was largely inaccessible to the masses, available to only its elite inner circle and celebrities or through the pages of magazines. Now, through the rise of social media, fans from around the world have front row seats to the most exclusive Fashion Week events – albeit through the lens of a smartphone.
Social platforms don’t only give mainstream fans unprecedented access to the fashion community: they’re an increasingly valuable way for these brands to engage with a wider audience of potential consumers than ever before. Designers are shifting the layouts of their shows to integrate social media, from Tommy Hilfiger installing an “Instapit” at his latest show to Kanye West’s livestream of his massive collection and album debut. However, the rapid speed of social media isn’t just evolving how consumers engage with the brands – it’s changing how designers and retailers market and sell their clothes.
What this means for brands:
At New York Fashion Week, there’s a lot at stake: The events generate $900M in revenue – an amount greater than the Super Bowl. Brands have to bring their social media “A” game to make an impression with buyers.
Whereas collections shown on the runway traditionally landed on store shelves six months later, consumers are losing interest after they’ve seen these clothes on their screens. According to a report by L2, brands saw approximately 13 million “likes” or shares on their social media platforms, the most popular being Instagram, during the most recent New York Fashion Week. However, “likes” don’t necessarily translate into revenue if the consumers can’t purchase what they’re seeing right away. This decrease in consumer attention span spurred Council of Fashion Designers of America to hire Boston Consulting Group to advise on the future of fashion shows and consider shifting the retail schedule to be more shopper-, rather than season-, focused. Some brands are experimenting with “buy buttons” on certain platforms that allow customers to purchase pieces as they see them on social media. In the coming seasons, brands will have to consider whether they will stick with tradition and potentially lose customers to the next big thing, or adapt to the speed of social media and consumers’ desire for instant gratification.