• Hrishika Maniar

How social media has changed fashion forever

Updated: Mar 19, 2021

See: Instagram.

The new generation of fashion doesn’t just want to wear clothes, it wants to show them off. Whether you’re all about that #BloggerLife or you’re just social-media active, chances are, you have posted a selfie or picture of yourself in your favourite outfit.

And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it’s just one small part of how social media has changed fashion forever.

Instagram is no longer just a tool for posting your pics, but it has become a ground for your favourite fashion brand to make a lot of money. Models are scouted for their Instagram followers, because influence = sales. Heck, in 2017, Burberry hired Brooklyn Beckham to photograph their campaign, simply because he has the might of 6 million Instagram followers behind him.

This new hyper-sharing culture also means that social media sites and tech companies are doing the most to exploit it. Instagram’s click and buy feature only makes it easier to see an item on Instagram and buy it straight away. Other app developers are making ‘Shazam’ apps for clothes you see on Instagram, so you can identify where the poster bought their outfit from.

Brands are also making this culture something that’s lucrative for them. It’s no surprise that the whole logo-mania trend appeared when social media users are growing. Kylie Jenner in full-on Fendi, with the logo emblazoned across every inch of makes it so much easier for her 155million followers to identify what she’s wearing.

Okay Kylie, we get it. You're rich.

But logo-mania has its own nuances, all of which have been carefully shaped by the advent of social media. Logo-mania has become satirical of itself, almost self-aware. It has inflated itself to a point where it knows that people will buy anything it churns out. For reference, look at Gucci’s t-shirts. They have the standard Italian logo, but it is covered with a couple of sentences in scrawly writing. Gucci also released accessories with their name spelled as ‘Guccy’, to mimic the huge market of fakes and knock-offs that exists. Are people still paying hundreds and thousands for these items? Absolutely.

That says a lot about the market itself. Young people are dominating the luxury goods market, and it’s no surprise that they are also the most avid social media users. Young people want to flaunt their clothes and possessions more. It’s just clout-chasing.

The paradox of how young people affect social media and how social media affects young people is another topic to explore. Seeing what looks like the ideal lifestyle on your news feed is more likely to make you want to adopt that lifestyle, and when you do, you’re gonna influence someone else to do the same (this book spells it out really well, have a read).

So who is to blame for this knot of fashion brands, social media channels, and the individual, all weaving in and out of each other so tightly? Social media has injected steroids into the influenced/influencer relationship that has always existed in one form or another throughout time. So when you do it for the gram, do you know what you’re really doing?

Cover painting is Light of the Harem by Frederic Leighton.