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