The Australia Times Fashion Vol. 3 Issue 9 “Is Social Media Helping or Hurting the Fashion Industry?”

read it HERE pages 44-52

Is Social Media Helping or Hurting the Fashion Industry?

The fashion industry is a realm rife with differing opinions – is normcore really a thing? Are bloggers journalists? Is social media affecting the fashion industry positively, or negatively?

Designers, celebrities and models are members of an elite club not accessible to the everyday consumer. They attend fashion week and sit front row, are invited to magazine and product launch parties, and rub shoulders with important members of the media who in turn continue to perpetuate this exclusivity by relaying only the most interesting details to the public, keeping us glued to our magazines and televisions.

However, social media has changed this exclusivity and the relationship consumers have with retailers and and fashion industry players. We can now follow everyone who is anyone via Instagram, interact with retailers on their Facebook pages and read reviews or view editorials created by bloggers online, but what are the effects of this new phenomena?

PROS:

Social media is accessible to everyone with an internet connection and as such gives any aspiring creative a platform to promote and share their work, and garner a following even before some fashion editor or agency has picked up on it. This aspect of social media has loosened the exclusive nature of breaking into the fashion industry, giving up and coming designers and models a way in, when they don’t know the ‘right’ people.

Furthermore, sharing media such as Instagram and Snapchat allows the average consumer a candid look inside the lives of celebrities and personalities, something we have come to expect since the days Keeping Up With The Kardashians began. As such, these mediums only whet our appetites for more insiders tips, views and knowledge, so come fashion week, we expect our favourite bloggers, instagrammers and vines to share everything happening at the front row, as it unfolds.

Again, we consumers see this information as a given, magazines online counterparts simply must live stream these events, alas they fall behind and lose their audiences to bloggers and models fulfilling that role. This practice makes fashion weeks and new season trends accessible, we can view everything as it is unveiled and spend the next six months waiting for it to appear in store saving pennies and deciding if we will buy it.

Social media also allows retailers to communicate with their audience. They can ask their consumer to hashtag the brands name in Insta-selfie shots, part for free promotion, but also as a marketing strategy to see what sells most, how can it be styled, who wears our clothes?

CONS

Unfortunately, due to the accessible nature of blogging and Instagram, social media allows anyone with an internet connection to have a say. This has deregulated the journalistic market and brought about the question, are bloggers the new fashion journalists? Do we even need to pursue further tertiary education in he relevant fields to have a professional view, or must we simply know how to dress well and present our personal brand effectively?

Live streaming offers us insight, however what it brings to the table for retailers is questionable. We sit behind our smartphones and computers viewing the latest season, then try to shop those trends immediately online. By the time the original collections are finally released for purchase, we as a consumer are already over the 70s revival or sports-luxe references, and are looking for something new. While social media can aid sales and marketing, it can also hinder it, meaning that those who once exclusively controlled what was sold, seen and when, are losing their grip.

It’s also no secret that digital media has over taken that of traditional journalism, and outlets that did not adapt to the digital age or merge with it, have now fallen behind. What has also been left behind, is transparency.

Traditional media outlets were required to declare when they are promoting something, if they are paid to advertise it, However, the digital space is largely unmonitored and the likes of famous bloggers and Instagrammers aren’t hindered by such protocol. As such, we, the followers, aren’t informed that our favourite blogger was sent a Prada bag for free or that Lover offered to dress them for an event, we simply just believe that, it is pure love for the trend and product that drives this blogger. We don’t stop to think that an aesthetically pleasing flatly was created purely for publicising a brand or product, rather than the personalities genuine love.

Social Media is affecting fashion just as the digital age affected traditional media. It gives voice to those less heard, but also threatens those living inside the traditional ways of seasonal releases and marketing strategies. I hypothesise a similar outcome for fashion as media, reminiscent of 50 Cent’s approach to life – adapt or die trying.

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