Student using computer, c1970s

There are few aspects of life that technology and social media hasn’t shoved itself into. The average internet user has 25 accounts on different websites which require passwords, though for many young adults that number is even higher. Most of us in Western society (and much of the world) have a Facebook account, and the amount of mobile internet use is set to surpass desktop internet use in the next few years. Businesses and companies have caught on to the dependence society has on technology, particularly social media.

Every type of organization imaginable is on social media, such as: celebrities, magazines, sports brands, government municipalities and networking groups. Both the user and the brand benefit from social media exposure. Users can learn more about the brand directly, RSVP to events, make suggestions on advertisements or pages, and share or “like” products. Brands utilize social media to promote products, provide users with updates or news, directly interact with customers and make announcements, all for little or no cost. Companies can also use social media to gain insight about users, demographics and customer interests, simply by reading comments and replies or counting “likes” and “shares”. Some brands have begun to use social media to hold contests, such as Victoria’s Secret, which promotes certain products and increases online sharing. With the smartphone now being the latest unisex necessity, many companies are developing new strategies to appeal to these users. Gilt.com, a website that sells regularly high-priced fashion for a low-price, has a mobile app available. 4% of Gilt Groupe’s annual sales are now through iPads alone, and users which shop on iPads spend, on average, 30% more than other users.

Diane von Furstenberg is one of the most followed designers on Twitter with over 5,500 followers, and is frequently tweeting about life mantras, opinions and style. The Diane von Furstenberg Facebook page is more focused on the brand, but has over 341,000 likes. Some designers use social media to showcase their new designs directly to a larger audience. Vera Wang, Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Topshop have all streamed their fashion shows live over the internet. Not only does this allow more people to feel included and see the new designs as they happen, it allows these high-end designers to reach a more general audience of people who wouldn’t normally attend a fashion show. Louis Vuitton made their 2010 Spring Ready-to-Wear show available only to Facebook followers, providing a “reward” for loyal fans while allowing the brand to reach more people.

The partnership between fashion and social media has branched even further with the evolution of the internet. Social networking sites created only for the fashionable are rising in popularity. Generally, there are two types of these sites. The first type of website has users create a profile, like any social media site, who then post fashion tidbits and looks they can create on the website using a database of pieces. The most notable of these websites is Fashion.me and Polyvore. The other type of fashion-social media websites provides users with a platform to upload their personal looks. These websites are for the more fashion-involved, and have many celebrity and designer users (such as Rachel Zoe and Coco Rocha). The most popular of these websites is StyledOn, Pose, Chictopia and Lookbook. Both of these types of websites encourage user interaction, and either sells the clothing posted directly or links to a safe website that does.

Asos, based out of London and one of the most popular online shopping stores, has taken already social media and fashion to the next level. In 2011, they launched their F-Commerce store which allowed users to shop directly on their Facebook page. Although the idea didn’t go over well with users, many believe the Facebook store’s failure was due to glitches, as opposed to a lack of interest. Asos has also blazed the online fashion trail in another way. Instead of creating a social media website that incorporates style and shopping, Asos is a fashion website that encourages interaction and sharing. Asos’s Marketplace allows users to sell vintage or used clothing, sell homemade creations and communicate with each other. Small boutiques also use Marketplace to reach a broader audience.

Social media is still a relatively new tool, and the union between social media and fashion is even more contemporary. Allowing brands, users and bloggers to reach a larger audience, social media has already begun to reshape fashion and creative outlets; this is definitely just the beginning.

 

This piece was written by Rebecca MacDonald, Fashion Columnist at Rhetoric Magazine. Come back for more every Thursday!