The fashion industry, for the longest time, was seen as elite. You had to at least know someone who knew someone in order to get access, and be a part of the illustrious scene. If you were lucky enough to actually be present at a high end catwalk show, you had obviously made it in life, dressed in the finest garb yourself, and spoke with a posh accent. In other words; fashion was super cliquey, highly exclusive, and probably not something the average consumer was going to be a part of. At least not directly.
But that all has changed. A new multi-headed beast was introduced, and it took the world by storm, forcefully changing the fashion scene as it did.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were born, and all but took the fashion industry by the scruff of its neck, and tossed it into the future. The once-exclusive now became entirely inclusive, and a teenager on the couch suddenly had as much access as the previously so out of reach celebrity fashion stars.
As we’ve already mentioned, one of the key aspects of the old fashion industry was exclusivity. In many ways this benefited the brands and designers involved, granting them an aloof, almost ethereal aura. You had to want to be part of the fashion world, and go out of your way to get a taste of it. The latest lines of clothing were beautiful, almost mysterious things that had to be sought out. Boy oh boy, and when you did find them, you had also better be ready to splash some serious cash. In fact, most of us fashion frenzied folk would need to hit a jackpot or two at an online casino, just to be able to buy the brands that we coveted.
But today, a teenager in a dressing gown can browse Instagram from the couch, watch catwalk shows live on Twitter, and make a purchase with as much effort as it takes to move a thumb half an inch. Everyone who wants in is allowed in, and it’s a revolution that changed everything, from the ground up.
Fashion houses were forced to adapt, or eat dust. The days where the designers decided what was hot, and what was not, have been left behind. Instagram is the new trendsetter, and the consumers are making the decisions, and telling once lofty fashion houses what they want. Trends are no longer dictated; they are decided by a million voices, via networks that are the new rulers.
Instagram is referred to as the new fashion decider, and a few highly influential faces, most unknown only a few years ago, are suddenly more important than previously aloof designers. Susie Lau and Caroline Daur, names that had no meaning once, are now worth estimated millions, simply due to social media.
Chiara Ferragni, commanding the attention of millions of subscribers, is now featured on magazine covers, but gathered her enormous influence via nothing more than blogging, free social media accounts, and a whole lot of effort. It need not be said that fashion houses and designers clamour to be seen with her, whereas previously she would have had a snowballs chance in hell of even getting into a fashion show.
Luxury brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton once demanded that buyers travel to high class shopping districts, feel intimidated by glitzy boutiques, and say thank you for the privilege. Now, these same brands focus almost all their attention online, granting live stream access to whoever cares to look, and providing quick buy options for their products. Websites are the new shopping districts, and everyone is invited. Designs are based around user polls and suggestions made by social media influencers, although, it should be noted, the brands have still managed to maintain their lofty statuses.
It is a new world for fashion indeed, and one that is set only to become more online focused than ever before, with consumer voices and social media at the helm. How the situation evolves remains to be seen, but there is no question about one aspect; the old fashion industry is well and truly a thing of the past.