The rise of social media campaigns within the fashion industry

In recent years, we have seen the rise of the digital age, and social media in particular. Once used as a platform for personal fun and communication, apps like Instagram are now at the forefront of many fashion campaigns.

In the worlds of music and fashion, ‘likes’ are now essential to a clothing brand’s or artist’s overall success. When users like or comment on an image, this is now what solidifies the success of a campaign, as opposed to gaining exposure through traditional methods such as billboards and television advertisements. Together with Trilogy Stores, retailers of designer straight leg jeans, we investigate how and why social media is having such a significant impact on the world of fashion:


Who has the title for the most likes?

The title was previously held by Selena Gomez, with over 6.7 million likes on one single post – a post for Coca Cola, on June 25 2016, which showed Gomez holding a bottle of coke, wearing a matching red racer top with red nails. Now, another figure who leads the way within the worlds of music and fashion has claimed the most liked title; when Beyoncé posted herself with a picture of her baby bump on February 1st 2017, she gained 11m likes, a dramatic increase of 4.3m on Gomez’s record.

If popular figures such as Beyoncé, Selena Gomez, and Kendall Jenner create such an impact on social media – whilst influencing the world of fashion with the clothes that they wear – then how is social media influencing and changing the way the fashion industry operates to suit millions of users every day?

What comes first, the model or the followers?

The modelling industry has changed over recent years and is almost unrecognisable – once a time where your success and popularity was measured on your presence and experience on the catwalk, models now rise from social media platforms.

The model

At the young age of 15, Naomi Campbell had her first break as a model. She then went on to grace the covers of Time magazine, French Vogue, Russian Vogue, and was the first black model to appear on the cover of British Vogue. Her success then, is based on how long she has been in the industry and how popular she has become over the years based on this fact, which has meant she is now known as one of first five original supermodels.

However, some of the most popular models of today have entered the industry in a different way. Kendall Jenner, currently the world’s most popular and in-demand model, was already famous before she became the model she is today. By appearing on Keeping Up with the Kardashians, her involvement with the world’s most televised family still has a direct impact on her popularity on social media, and consequently, her exposure within the world of fashion.

The followers

The American model has secured some of her biggest modelling jobs because of her 81.6 million followers, including securing the top job as the face of global cosmetics giant Estee Lauder. The reason for this, is that social media accounts guarantee a level of success during a cosmetic or fashion campaign, this is because the face of that campaign is already a success as the ‘ultimate Instagirl’ or boy in their own right, which encourages the industry to choose these popular faces over newcomers who haven’t already had their first break.

Brooklyn Beckham was scouted in a very similar way by Burberry. When the fashion house discovered that Brooklyn had 5.9 followers in 2016 – now 10m – he was chosen to photograph Maddie Demaine for Burberry’s Brit fragrances ad campaign. After being chosen over many professional photographers in the industry, this created a new precedent within the fashion industry. Now, fashion campaigns can be dictated by the level of followers a particular model or person has, not their knowledge of the industry or their contributions to popular culture outside the online world of social media. It’s not just the model that needs social media leverage, even the backstage team (make-up artists, stylists, and producers) need to be known on social media before they can be involved in a major fashion shoot.

A change in customer behaviour

Evolving tradition

With the development of so many social media apps, the fashion industry has evolved from an exclusive ‘private members club’ mentality, to a more casual industry that is seen to be exposing this secretive world for the first time.

Buying the image

Fashion houses are now utilising social media platforms as a way to get customers engaging with their campaigns. Burberry was the first fashion house to stream their catwalk online, and in some instances, guests at the show were able to buy a garment on their smartphone as soon as the model walked past them. As well as this, to debut their spring/summer collection in 2016, Burberry previewed it on social media platform snapchat before its official release.

Michael Kors have also taken advantage of integrating their fashion campaign alongside buying platforms online. Through smart hashtag campaigns, Michael Kors sent an email to users who liked their products with the link to buy the product online, with the hashtag #InstaKors. Through considered hashtag campaigns such as these, fashion houses are able to bridge the gap between a fashionable image, and their ability to buy the product.

Social media platforms have provided fashion companies with an opportunity to gain higher levels of engagement. These increase their product portfolio online, and they are growing their online sales faster than competitors that aren’t taking advantage of online social platforms. If companies within the luxury brand market are unable to take advantage of how consumers are interacting online, in the future, they may lose out to their competitors who are.

Rebecca x

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  • Found this to be a very interesting post. I do feel a little sad about it – there are so many talented people who without the social media backing that will not make it but this seems to happen time and time again. We just need to move on – adapt or out I guess. Thought this was a very though provoking post.

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