Fashion Week used to be an invitation-only event, attended only by the rich and famous. Back then, mere mortals had to make do with reading about the events a week or so later in glossy magazines. However, that was then, and this is now. Today’s designers are opting to make the catwalk much more accessible through the use of technology.

Social media, in particular, has proven to be a catalyst for change in the world of fashion. The line between the real and online worlds has blurred in recent years, with high-profile designers opting to use tools like Instagram Stories and Snapchat during New York Fashion Week to keep their followers involved and engaged.

Followers and friends

Several fashion houses now use platforms like these to provide consumers with instant access to a world that was previously off-limits. This is a positive development for consumers who want an early look at the latest collections, but it also means that many customers are no longer willing to wait six months to purchase the items being shown.

As a result, brands like Burberry now operate a ‘see-now-buy-now’ policy that enables customers to purchase the latest fashions as soon as they leave the runway. This approach will no doubt drive additional sales, but it also means that designers are having to produce more collections than ever before and look for more innovative ways to promote them.

Tommy Hilfiger, for example, recently created a ‘capsule collection’ dedicated to the essential items of clothing that don't go out of fashion. For its debut, the fashion house created an entire theme park, effectively shutting down Venice Beach. An event of this scale had never been seen before during Fashion Week, not least because it used the power of social media to broadcast the show to thousands of additional fans around the globe.

Fashion in fast forward

Social media is not only changing how brands market themselves, it is also shaping the next generation of models. Before Instagram came along, simply being scouted would be enough for runway success, but today’s brands now want a personality that has the social media followers to go with it. This allows brands to amplify their outreach and connect with a wider target audience, especially Millennials, who represent the fastest growing demographic with the fastest growing spending power.

Well-known brands such as D&G and Burberry have already tapped into the power of these social media influencers by casting them in campaigns – and more brands are likely to adopt this approach in order to engage with the Millennial audience. More traditional designers may baulk at such a populist approach, but brands that fail to embrace this new world order will almost certainly fall behind as consumer appetites continue to evolve.

 

By Matt Phelan, CEO of 4Ps, part of NetBooster Group


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