Social Medias Effect on the Fashion Industry

via @voguerunway on Instagram
via @voguerunway on Instagram

As outlined in my previous post about my research plan, I am an avid social media and fashion consumer. I have great knowledge in this area, therefore I recognised it as being a simple and exciting way to discuss how media is spatial in nature, with a specific focus on social media and its worldwide effects on the fashion industry. The best way for us to start it to simply and plainly discuss how media is spatial. To start, geographer Doreen Massey (2013) had the idea of space not just being a place that we live in.

A lot of what I’ve been trying to do over the all too many years when I’ve been writing about space is to bring space alive, to dynamize it and to make it relevant, to emphasise how important space is in the lives in which we live, and in the organisation of the societies in which we live. Most obviously I would say that space is not a flat surface across which we walk; you’re not traveling across a dead flat surface that is space: you’re cutting across a myriad of stories going on. So instead of space being this flat surface it’s like a pincushion of a million stories: if you stop at any point in that walk there will be a house with a story”.

In my understanding of Massey’s idea of space, space is all the little things that happen in between life. Relating this to media practices, it matters where you are, access to media and society (Bowles, 2015). I think that these aspects closely relate to my idea of the spatial relationship between social media, fashion and audience.

Social media has always been my main access to information about the fashion world, simply because it’s easy to use and access. I believe this is due to current technology, such as smartphones, where social media apps like Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Periscope are incredibly easy to navigate. In a time where online activity is growing, it is important for brands to follow the trend and move advertising online, and fashion is one industry that has successfully done so.

@louisvuitton

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Let’s Talk The Basic Stuff First

In a time where people want everything now, the instantaneous effect of social media has only increased people’s needs for everything straight away. Every year, twice a year, Fashion Week occurs. This is where the latest trends are shown on the runway. Before Instagram, people relied on magazines like Vogue to get their Fashion Week news. Those people who consume these magazines generally were wealthier than most. Then news moved online to websites and until only recently, blogs. Even though blogs are relatively new, Instagram is already taking the original role of blogs. With easier access, the status of the consumer does not matter, as it is free.

“Through the Web 2.0, new ways of communication have been developing, with the goal of making the purchase no longer an acquisition of status, but an experience that, when shared, may multiply significantly the awareness and cultural relevance of the brand, fostering a process of identification by the public” Marianna Boero (2015).

Fashion, Space and Social Media

The effect of social media has had more than an influential impact. It has changed the way we watch fashion and has even changed careers within the industry and this is medias spatial effect. Just recently I was watching the live Balmain x HM show that was happening in New York while I was sitting at home here in Sydney. I was watching this on a new app called Periscope which only live streams events that you can’t go back and watch later. Similar to this would be the live updates on Instagram of other shows during fashion week. Snapchat is also another app which has taken over the live streaming of Fashion Week, with multiple stories detailing every show and every model, people are able to see what is happening as it happens.

#GigiHadid and #KendallJenner backstage at @balmainparis 💙 #KenGi

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Because these live streaming apps are so popular now, traditional forms of news have had to step up their game to keep up. For example Voguerunway.com (was style.com) aims to live update their website of each new show with professional photographs of each look, and another website like this is nowfashion.com. These website have had to understand social media to keep up with it and to keep audiences coming back to their sites. I discovered this quote from a research project by Iris Mohr (2013), a professor in marketing and self-proclaimed fashionista, where her findings indicate that there is a “significant effect of fashion related media, including social networks (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace), magazines, newspapers, and blogs in intensifying fashion week attendees views about fashion”. She also adds “the influence of the media identified was essential and important in evaluating the quality of the shows and/or designers”. From this, I take that without the videos and photos from the shows, the audiences cannot clarify whether the designs and show was great or not. With the addition of social media platforms, those who did not attend are able to comment and give their opinion therefore gives the clarification of the importance of the show.

The change in popularity of viewing apps has completely changed the way audiences operate and has had effects on business operation. Brands have had to implement new teams in the companies solely to focus on social media promotion. This is an example of how media is spatial, as it has completely changed the dynamic of the office from new marketing aspects to gaining loyal customers. This change is not limited to the fashion industry either as companies like Woolworths and McDonald’s pay for sponsored ads on these apps.

“The usage of social media technology by luxury brands surged in 2009. Technology encourages customers to interact with brands. These customer interactions build the brand by increasing awareness, involvement, and engagement; thus, adding to brand recall and stimulating purchases. Tweets, blogs, and social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest offer fashion brands ways to connect with audiences” Iris Mohr (2013).

Recently, I conducted an interview with my friend Lyndsie who is completely obsessed with the idea of fashion and social media, like myself. Here is how she feels about the impact social media has had on the fashion industry.

  1. Do you think social media has changed the way we consume fashion?

Most definitely!

  1. In what ways do you think so?

I believe that retailers, brands and designers utilize social media in such a way it has become one of the key aspects in which consumers view and learn about particular brands. Social media platforms allow communication between both the brand and the consumer as they provide consistent information about emerging trends and styles. These platforms have shaped the way in which society consumes fashion, as social media access is simple, quick and easy. This factor is a catalyst for the increased online traffic and sales, meaning social media effectively contributes to the shift to online shopping and the way society views brands. Brands expanding their marketing to social media ultimately influences what society wears.

  1. How do you think the instantaneous ability of social media has affected consumers of fashion?

By society embracing social media platforms and identifying the influential ability they have, the fashion industry is successfully becoming a more open and shifting to a more personal approach to their followers through social media. Eradicating what once was an exclusive industry where only front row attendees to fashion shows were able to experience, now everyone is instantly able to watch as styles change and as new designers emerge all through the likes of social media. Viewers are more intrigued and feel more welcomed to contribute to the fashion industry, becoming more inspired and are able to feel more empowered and confident about their style and who they are.

Lyndsie’s answers agree with my opinion of social media and also with the research I came across, particularly in question 3 about the change of audience in fashion. Fashion is no longer for the elite but for those who are interested in it, no matter if they can afford it or not. This all comes down to the barriers which social media has overcome for us regular folk to enjoy.

If you would like to read more about the links between social and media, click below.

Fashion in the Age of Instagram 

Is Instagram Killing Personal Style Blogs? 

The Digital Runway: How Social Media is Changing Fashion

References:

Boero, M 2015, ‘The language of fashion in postmodern society: A social semiotic perspective”, Semiotica, no. 207, pp. 303-325,

Bowles, K 2015, Week 1 Lecture via Powerpoint, BCM240, UOW, viewed 31st October 2015, https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/462145/mod_resource/content/1/BCM240%202015%20week%201.pdf

Mohr, I 2013, ‘The Impact of Social Media on the Fashion Industry’, Journal of Applied Business and Economics, vol. 15, no. 2, pp.17-22

Social Science Bites 2013, Doreen Massey on Space, Social Science Space, viewed 31st October 2015, http://www.socialsciencespace.com/2013/02/podcastdoreen-massey-on-space/

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Research Project Plan

Trying to get a grasp of what the spatial nature of media practices and audiences is, kind of made my head spin a little. When first thinking of what I could talk about for this topic, I guess you could say I was heading for the easy route and thought of topics that we have already discussed throughout the semester. But, last week I was watching the Balmain x HM show via Periscope all the way from New York when I was sitting in my bed and then it dawned on me, why not write something that is completely retable to myself. I came up with the idea of how social media (Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat) changes the way we view fashion and where we view it, and how it creates the effect of wanting everything as we see it. It still baffles me how I am able to be sitting here in my room in Yarrawarrah yet still be watching fashions shows happening at the same time in Paris. I really believe it has changed the way the whole fashion industry has worked, from buyers to stylists to websites having to keep up with the quick pace of social media, and this is how social media is spatial in nature as it is changing aspects of the fashion industry all over the world.

The aim for the next few days of research is to first collect and collate all of my information. These will be my secondary sources from academic works and also personal online articles from fashion and social media experts. I also want to conduct primary research by interviewing my friend who I know is extremely interested in social media and fashion.

If anyone has any thoughts or idea that they could contribute, please comment on this post. It would be great to have more than one opinion on this topic as well as from people who may not be interested in fashion but can see the effects that social media affects how we communicate in a whole.

Photography In a Public Space

Hugh Holland's iconic skate photos from 1975
One of Hugh Holland’s iconic skate photos from 1975

“The mundane is elevated to a photographic object; the everyday is now the site of potential news and visual archiving”

Daisuke Okabe, 2003

This quote perfectly captures the lives we live today. The ease of camera phones turns capturing a memory or moment into capturing the mundane. Pre-camera phones, it was film. Film was on the expensive side of things so every image counted whereas nowadays, digital photos make it easy to take as many photos as you want with no cost, no matter how terrible or important the photo or memory is. With this new found ease comes responsibilities. Whole new rules and guidelines of ethics were introduced no matter if the photo is public or private.

The ethics of photography can divide some people but for me, I find there is a difference between public space photography as an art and just taking a photo of something completely stupid. If someone were to be taking a photo of Circular Quay and I just so happened to be in their photo I wouldn’t ask them to delete it. Some public photos just have an audience too large for people to check the image. But, for example, taking a photo of someone on the train sleeping I think is an invasion of privacy particularly if it is to be posted on Facebook. If someone’s intentions are harmful or mean, then it shouldn’t be taken but it is also to be remembered that it is not illegal.

I think the best way to use ethnography in studying photograph ethics is to not be aware of who or what you’re taking photos of. The purpose is not to stand there and take photos of people intentionally to get a reaction or to be searching for people taking photos of you, but to do unknowingly. By doing this, personally, you feel as though you have an understanding of what your own beliefs and restraints are. Do you turn away if you notice someone’s taking a photo? Do you intentionally ask people if you mind taking a photo? To me, this is true ethnography.

I have seemed to have had my own lesson in ethics in photography without realizing it or needing conduct and ethnographic study to write this post. In 2011 I created an album on Facebook called “Outstanding Mullets” (yes, I was in year 10 OK). I endeavored to find the best mullets in Sydney and made an album for all of my finds. The hardest part for me was being sneaky enough to get a photo of the person without them or their parents noticing. Looking back at this now I realise how ethically wrong this is. I did not ask consent to take the photos nor to add them to a public album online and the intention was for a bit of a laugh. Now that’s the negative side of public photography. With the introduction of social media, it is now even more difficult to remove photos permanently, particularly of celebrities.

Now back to the art side of things. If there were strict legal rules about photos in public space, some of the most iconic and historic photos may not have ever been taken or released. Classic images from cinemas of couples, war photos, skate pictures from the 70s or fashion street style photos may never exist, which unknowingly shape our cultures. One of those in particular that I feel strongly about is street style photos. In the 70s, noted street style photographer Bill Cunningham, famously took photos of people on the streets of Manhattan. After doing this for decades, it wasn’t until 2005 when Scott Shuman started a blog to feature street style. Street style has undeniably become extremely important in magazines and influencing trends. Thousands of images are posted every fashion week season where I’m sure models and bloggers don’t mind getting their photo taken, posted online or in a magazine. One of my friend’s street style photos actually made it into British Vogue and she wasn’t complaining it. I did however watch a documentary on Bill Cunningham and did notice a few things about the subjects of the photos. Some of the people were reluctant to be photographed so they either turned away or asked him not to take a photo (probably unknowing of who and how influential he is). Bill was still persistent in getting the shot but I have now wondered whether he publishes those, which people ask not to be taken.

BILL-articleLarge

I think when it comes to photography in public or even private places, it can be tricky to define what should and shouldn’t be used. I guess as the photographer, you have to have common sense when it comes to identity and purpose in ethics and as a participant you have to voice how you feel about the image being taken.

This weeks post of the week is by Kate Scott. The personal research she took on really makes this post relatable as a student. Give it a read. Social Taboo Or Art? The Ethics Behind Street Photography