In this social media age, having an Instagram account is impossible to avoid, especially if you want to keep up with the rapidly changing world. Whether it is for bigger brands or start-ups, this platform seems to have a huge impact on their recognition. Moreover, having the freedom to control their content, their fate lies in their own hands. Social media, specifically Instagram, has blurred the lines between the once “exclusive” fashion community and the general public. Nowadays, almost all fashion designers are offering their followers a “behind the scenes” peek.

With over 400 million monthly users, Instagram is the eighth largest social networking platform in the world. But in the fashion world, it has been in the top of the rank these past few years. Not only is it a platform to showcase new products, but also lifestyle. Since the new generation of shoppers is inspired by how certain people or influencers live their “glamorous” life, the viewers feel that they are in a journey with them. Whereas for young designers, Instagram lets people grow with them in every step of the way.

Tex Saverio sketching next collection, Instagram post

Are there mutual benefits?
Instagram is designed for storytelling through visuals. And as fashion depends heavily on strong visuals and graphics, the two make a perfect fit. Instagram has changed the fashion landscape dramatically since it was firstly launched. It democratizes fashion and create a greater connection to the customer now. This visual network enables brands to build a voice and speak more specifically to their audiences. Designers are not just thinking about the people at the shows, but also those watching behind their screens.

The platform has given designers opportunities to interact and get criticism. Also, without us necessarily realising, Instagram has an impact in our buying decisions and vice versa. It alters the way designers sell their products. Instead of just selling through the product photos itself, they have to think of a way to wisely make a profit out of lifestyle-related photos that influence viewers. Through the feed that is provided by the app, brands have the freedom to post anything they want to attract potential customers.

In practice
Let us consider for example TOTON, one of Indonesia’s leading contemporary womenswear brands:
A casual stroll through @totonthelabel’s Instagram gives an impression of modernity, ethnicity and a strong heritage. With their inspirational posts from the streets of Indonesia, the account has succeeded in capturing people’s attention through the fresh interpretation of Indonesian culture.

Based on facts, instead of wanting to see all the glamorous sides of the industry, audiences rather see from behind the curtain, those that are “real” so they can relate to. Out of this relationship, audiences feel a stronger connection to the brand and therefore feel the urge to buy the actual products.

Is what we see ‘real’?
For fashion labels, they are trying to not make it look too slick since it is meant to be more informal and conversational rather than too structured. For customers, they think they are getting a peek inside a famously exclusive and private world. The reality is rather different, as what we see is mostly curated. Yes, fashion houses use Instagram to engage with their customers, but in a very controlled way. But how exactly?

Keeping in mind that brands feel the pressure on giving sneak peeks behind their progress, the question is whether that needs to be in a ‘perfect way’. Emma Hart, the creative director of one of the leading luxury fashion PR agencies doesn’t quite agree. “‘Perfect’ is not essential”, she says, “but polished and planned is good! The main thing is that all your posts and content should feel consistent and genuine“

She elaborates further; “Of course, social media can feel that it is an extra thing to do and manage and get right. What’s so important is to have a clear plan and strategy. Before any activity or post myself and the team always ask the following questions; ‘what’s the content plan’ ‘what is the purpose of the post’ ‘what do you want the post to achieve’. This proofs that planning is essential but a real identity is still a priority.

Up close with Saptodjojokartiko, Instagram post

“Sneak peeks are a great way to give your audience a snapshot of what’s to come and – if executed well – are highly recommended.” Emma suggests.

And what can fashion designers or brands do to keep up? “Don’t follow, lead!” says Emma Hart and goes on to advise: “set your own plan, your own content and your own objectives and stay true to your brand. Stay inspired, be creative and keep looking (but not copying) what the world is doing.”

Want to know more? Don’t get too curious as we will update you in exactly one week! Stay tuned for more insights and exclusive interviews about Instagram and Fashion in the next article.

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