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How Influential is Instagram in the Fashion Industry?

The love-in between Instagram and the fashion industry can be summed up by the most “liked” Instagram image of the last 5 years; the selfie of model Kendall Jenner lying on the floor in a lace dress with her hair arranged around her into heart shapes. It gained 3.1m “likes” by itself. More than 10k Instagram users also used the hashtag #hearthair, to share their own versions of the image. Instagram is hugely influential on fashion, but where does this leave the wider fashion instry at large?

Expert Opinion: My generation have embraced social media in a big way, but I think we will only really see the full influence that Instagram carries once the younger generation who have grown up with it all of their lives start to have spending power. – Sarah Rutson, VP of Global Buying at NET-A-PORTER

Fashion Shows + Instagram

  • A major fashion show can cost from €1.7 million / $2 million, to €7 million / $8 million (approx.) and last less than 10 minutes.
  • Where once Fashion Weeks in NY, London, Milan and Paris were intended for a trade audience and the collections were shown 6 months ahead of when they hit stores; social media channels like Instagram have opened them up to the wider public.
  • Increasingly there is a race to get items into the hands of consumers ASAP in order to capitalise on the hype the digital era has generated.
  • Instagram reports that in September 2015 (when the Spring 2016 collections were shown) engagement reached 44 million unique accounts and had 360 million interactions. This was more than triple the Fall 2014 collections.

According to Instagram, Top 10 Most Influential Spring 2016 Shows: Balmain, Givenchy, Christian Dior, Chanel, Diane von Furstenberg, Polo Ralph Lauren, Burberry, Coach, Kanye West and Jeremy Scott.

Fashion Models + Instagram

What is trending on Instagram has the potential to have more of an effect on what fashion will look like in the future more than anything on the runway. Models now play a big part in this using Instagram to boost their online profiles, making them even more desirable to brands. A select few are hugely influential.

The Rise of the “Insta-Models”:

  • The “Insta-Models” are akin to the “Supermodels” of the 80s and 90s in terms of popularity.
  • They are part of the Millennial generation using Instagram as a tool to build their own personal brand.
  • They are often paid for their frequently shared content and can charge companies up to €265k / $300k (approx.) per post.

The Biggest “Insta-Models” on Instagram:

  • Kendall Jenner: 54.4 million followers
  • Cara Delevingne: 29.1 million followers
  • Gigi Hadid: 16.2 million followers

The “Insta-Models” Influence

  • Brands are collaborating with them in order to gain some of their Instagram influence.
  • Topshop featured Gigi Hadid in one of their campaigns in a bid to tap into her Instagram followers and the images gained nearly 700k “likes”.
  • Topshop also collaborated on a clothing range with Kendall Jenner and her sister Kylie. Their combined Instagram influence was said to have been a significant factor in the deal.

Fashion Brands / Retailer + Instagram

In a world where nothing happens unless it is on Instagram, the # is everything. Everyone from high street retailers, department stores and luxury brands are using it for commercial gain.

TOMS: Use Instagram for charitable donations resulting in great PR.

  • In May 2015, TOMS shoes started the #WithoutShoes campaign.
  • The idea was to give away up to 1 million shoes to children in need by asking people share an image of their feet and tag it with #WithoutShoes.
  • For every image posted with the hashtag, TOMS would donate a pair of shoes to a child in need.
  • It was an impressive cause marketing campaign which resulted in 296,243 children in need receiving new shoes plus huge brand recognition for TOMS.

Chanel: Use Instagram for creating brand awareness and engagement

  • For its Fall 2015 fashion show, Chanel erected an over-the-top set design.
  • It was a supermarket with 100,000 faux Chanel products on the shelves.
  • Models pushed trolleys down the runway and audience members were given access to take “supermarket selfies” on the set prior to the show.
  • 1 image posted by the fashion blogger Susi Bubble (272k followers) garnered 2,670+ “Likes”.

Selfridges: Use Instagram to source niche brands to service customer demand

  • Instagram’s influence is now directly feeding into what fashion stores are buying, particularly as the demand for smaller niche labels increase.
  • It was key to Selfridges stocking its “Everybody” section, a specialist fitness brand section, in its department stores.
  • Labels such as Kiini (crocheted swimwear) and the Muzunga Sisters (beach cover-ups with pom-poms) were both sourced by viewing Instagram content.
  • For Selfridges, sourcing niche brands on Instagram is about buying into a particular lifestyle to best serve its customers.

Key Takeaways

  • Once the generation that has grown up with Instagram is old enough to have purchasing power, Instagram could be a major purchasing powerhouse.
  • “Insta-Models” are hugely influential on Instagram and more brands need to tap into this new form of brand ambassadorship.
  • If you are a fashion brand / retailer and you are not engaging with Instagram you are missing a serious commercial opportunity.
  • Opportunities exist for brands willing to live stream fashion shows and cut production costs, if they will take the risk of doing so.
  • Instagram offers brands / retailers the opportunity to create online customer engagement with their brand, boost their brand reputation by partnering with charitable causes and source smaller niche brands to retail / partner with.

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