Memes to models: how Instagram is changing fashion

Two weeks ago, Gucci posted a series of memes to Instagram as part of a campaign to promote their new watch collection. Inspired by popular meme accounts, the iconic fashion house commissioned various artists to create these memes. They were all posted with the hashtag #TFWGucci (That Feel When Gucci).

Although it received mixed reactions, the campaign certainly brought attention to the brand. And why wouldn’t it? Our generation loves memes. If we see something that depicts an aspect of life in a funny way, we share it. Gucci’s campaign is just the beginning of a new form of advertising.

Fashion marketing isn’t the only thing that has been impacted by Instagram. The way consumers view the latest designs has also changed. In the past, the public couldn’t see designs until they were released in stores. Now, thanks to Instagram, runway shows are no longer exclusive. The professionals, celebrities and influencers who attend fashion shows share photos and videos of the show to their Instagram accounts. The recent addition of live streaming has taken this immediate access even further. Fashion houses are using these changes to their advantage. Chanel, for instance, uploaded a video of their own elaborate show for their 19.3 million followers to see.

#CHANELGroundControl #CHANELFallWinter #PFW

A post shared by CHANEL (@chanelofficial) on

Instagram has changed the lifecycle of fashion trends. In the past, the public would look to the glossy pages of magazines to discover the latest trends. Now, trends start on the Instagram accounts of celebrities, influencers, or normal people that happen to have a unique style. This is because Instagram is free and readily available, unlike fashion magazines. As a result, designers have less power over trends and more competition in the form of influencers, who are paid to wear and promote brands.

The way scouting agencies discover models has also evolved. Rather than searching the streets, scouts are scouring Instagram to find fresh faces. This is because our Instagram accounts serve as an accessible digital portfolio of our lives. While this has opened up a world of opportunities for hopeful models, it comes with a downside.

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 2.07.45 PM

Unfortunately, a person’s follower count has become a major factor in getting booked, and it is now a requirement for models to have Instagram. Socialites such as Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner walk on runways and appear on magazine covers across the globe because of their massive follower counts. These models are essentially marketing tools, used to promote brands to their followers. However, whether these Insta-models qualify as supermodels is an ongoing debate.

Perhaps the most important way that Instagram is changing fashion is its use in addressing serious issues. Models, who are the literal faces of the fashion industry, are among the individuals using Instagram to voice their concerns. Consider Halima Aden, the first hijab-wearing woman to be signed to IMG Models. She is walking runways while empowering Muslim women on Instagram.

This message of empowerment is echoed by Adwoa Aboah, the model who founded ‘Gurls Talk’, a project aiming to challenge issues such as diversity and mental illness.

These women have huge follower counts and strong support bases, which forces the fashion world to pay attention. And, they certainly are. This year, the New York, London, Milan and Paris fashion weeks were more diverse for the Fall 2017 season than ever before. Meanwhile, activism in fashion is on the rise, and there is no doubt that Instagram has contributed to this.

Whether it’s through meme marketing or diversity campaigns, our social media-driven culture has impacted fashion. After all, fashion is a reflection of the times, and the times are constantly changing.


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