Social media & fashion – a match made in heaven

Guest blogger Wai Chim unpacks the new fashion democracy of social media…

Wai_ChimWai Chim is a content writer and editor for Switched on Media, a leading digital marketing agency in Sydney, and writes on behalf of many leading fashion labels and brands.

What’s hot, what’s not? These judgments and claims used to be solely the realm of fashion experts and the big name critics. You could watch the Oscars or the Arias with your friends and family and pass comment on Charlize Theron’s “Cinnabon” dress or the out of this world and stunning frock worn by J-Lo and Vera Farmiga, but no one else beyond the people in the room would ever hear your witty and insightful quips. It was up to the industry critics in Paris and Milan to notice the upcoming trends for the new season – and we as the consumers and buyers soaked up these tidbits and rushed out to the stores to ensure our wardrobe is in-season.

However, these days, the landscape has certainly changed thanks to the prevalence of social media. Everyone who can use the internet now has the chance to blog, tweet, comment, post – even create new looks and popular trend styles with a few clicks of the mouse. So has this changed the fashion landscape and how we perceive fashion trends?

Reinforcing observed trends

One thing that the internet does is make information exceptionally easy to access in large volumes – you don’t have to buy every single fashion mag at the newsagent to catch up on the latest fashion trends. So it’s easier to see trends becoming popular right before your eyes.
Meanwhile, social sharing with “Tweet this” and “Like this” buttons means you can get a good gauge on the social uptake of certain trends. It’s one thing for an expert to claim that “nudes” are the new colour palette for the season, but when 10,000 readers “like” the idea – you can be fairly certain that you’ll be seeing these styles on the streets taken up in droves.

Creating a new breed of influencers
It used to be you had to work in the industry for a certain amount of time, rub elbows with a few of the top name designers and be invited to and to attend top fashion events the world over to build up your street cred to become a key influencer in the industry. However, social media channels like blogs give many individuals the chance to share their passions and insights and be deemed a real influencer and important voice, without the titles and little black book of phone numbers that used to come with the notion.

Many traditional influencers are also turning to expressive social media channels, like blogs, to present the way they see their world and to not be constrained by the more conventional fashion mediums such as magazine spreads and columns – The Sartorialist is the perfect example.

Engaging with brands
Most major retailers now have at least some sort of social media presence in terms of Facebook and Twitter channels and will use these forums to push out announcements as well as engage with a more loyal following. These channels have created more opportunity for the individual to respond directly to emerging trends. Take Gap’s logo change – loyal fans were outraged by the new design and took to Facebook, Twitter, blogs and forums to express their discontent. Ultimately, the fashion label reverted back to the traditional Blue Box and scrapped what must’ve been a substantial investment in corporate strategy and brand repositioning – demonstrating the powerful influence social media has in determining the future of fashion.
As social media channels become more and more integrated with our daily lives, we’ll continue to see crowds and the general public having a great voice in the industry through these mediums.

What do you think? Where do you look for your fashion tips online?

Wai Chim is a content writer and editor for Switched on Media, a leading digital marketing agency in Sydney, and writes on behalf of many leading fashion labels and brands. 

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