Social media in the fashion industry

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Social media use in the fashion industry has enabled average consumers and regular people to have much more interaction with fashion designers and high-end clothing, shoes and accessory firms. Unlike traditional advertising platforms, such as billboard ads, magazine ads and television commercials, which the fashion company and their advertising agency had complete control over, when fashion companies do a social media marketing campaign in the 2010s, average consumers and regular people can post online comments immediately below the fashion company's social media advertisement. This accessibility is due to the increased usage of social media since 2009. Social media is a real time platform that reaches across the globe; this has had a great impact on how consumers interact with the fashion industry. Social media has brought about new channels of advertising for fashion houses to reach their target markets.

These new channels include, but are not limited to: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+. Since the global financial crisis in 2008, global consumption of luxury fashion goods diminished. Retailers had to shift their focus to "classic" lines to recapture their target market, as consumers were less likely to take risks on avant-garde items. (Kapferer, 2012)[1] confirms: "The recent economic crisis prompted the affluence population – the top 20% of income earners representing 60% of the market – to refocus on real value and great classics, and to pay the expected price." Although the marketing strategies and tactics have changed, the primary aim of marketing fashion remains the same, "ultimately attracting and retaining customers" Webber (2009).[2] In the social media era, fashion houses needed to reshape their marketing strategies to capture consumer's attention. This is where the shift from traditional print media to more interactive media started to occur. Social media is able to use different forms of media such as: videos, live streams and interactive Web 2.0 features to engage their target market.

The use of social media surged in 2009 to promote luxury fashion brands. Labels were now able to connect and build lasting relationships with customers at the push of a button. Initially social media was believed to be damaging for the fashion industry, because regular consumers could post critical comments about products and designs. However, some observers argue that despite these potential drawbacks, social media is a powerful opportunity to reach and engage a wider audience (Mohr, I; 2013). The Internet, as a means of advertising is able to reach a much wider, diverse group of people, as there are far fewer limitations compared to traditional print media. For example, people in their own homes using the Internet are able to access almost anything compared to previously having to go out and purchase fashion magazines to access the same content. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful sources of information to influence consumers decisions. Information on particular products can easily accessed by consumers on social media, which can either make or break reputations. "Word of mouth- interpersonal communication about products and services between consumers- is one of the most influential sources of marketplace information for consumers. Regardless if bad or good these messages can go viral" (Arndt, 1967; Alreck & Settle, 1995)

Fashion brands use social media for advertising and to engage their target market. Other uses include reporting on fashion news, providing customers with company updates and announcements about new fashion lines, events and promotions, and providing customer service to clients. For example, organizations can use Facebook to promote fashion events and release news-style stories about these events, including digital photos and videos. They can use Twitter for shorter updates and announcements. The fashion company and its ad agency decides which sites to use and controls, to the degree that it is possible, how these sites display their image and content. Companies' awareness of society's dependence on technology as an information-searching tool has encouraged fashion brands to invest in improving their social media presence. Social media has enabled consumers to feel more "connected" to fashion companies. It has also proven to give more exposure to individual brands.

Advertising through apps[edit]

Mobile apps, on smartphones such as the iPhone, allow users to shop brand sales, receive style tips, and customize fashion trend news feeds. Geo-location technology provides a meaningful way for brands to connect with shoppers at the point of purchase, giving them the ability to check-in and find tips, recommendations, offers and prizes, resulting in stronger brand loyalty and spread through word of mouth.[3] Companies have found ways to utilize apps on both social networking sites and mobile phones. Gilt Groupe, a private discounted site for luxury clothing, created Android apps to promote their products. According to the Vice President of Product Management for Gilt, "The Gilt for Android App was specifically designed for Android-powered devices. Android users can now shop Gilt sales, preview upcoming sales, and invite friends from anywhere via multiple messaging channels, including sharing the app via QR code. In addition, unique to Android devices, is the Gilt widget which is always viewable on the phone so that Android users can see today's sales even if they don't have the Gilt app open."[4] Gilt has found multiple ways to market itself through just one custom-made app. Gilt Groupe earns about 4% of its revenue from purchases made from the iPad. Shoppers using the device are increasing their spend at a higher rate than consumers using other devices. The retailer, says 177,000 consumers have downloaded its iPad app. And the average order value for a purchase made from an iPad is about 30% higher than for purchases made from an iPhone.[5] Facebook allows independent developers to create apps that market for several brands, or custom-develop an app for one brand. The widespread use of these applications is Facebook commerce. Target released an application that allows users to virtually play with the clothing by mixing and matching outfits while trying them on. The merchandise displayed in the game constantly changes to reflect only what is being sold in Target stores. It also increases traffic[citation needed] by linking users to that same item on their website.

Brand Influencers[edit]

Social media is now widely used as a way to advertise products through brand influencers, who are users of social media with a large following from the target market that the retail company is attempting to reach. Brand influencers are known to benefit retail sales significantly. This whole concept begins with identifying who the retailer’s customer is, also known as their target market. For example, retailers use a strategy called “selective selling” which revolves around the concept of consumers using social media as a way to cause envy from their peers.[6] Handbag companies have recently started to advertise their handbags among high influencers on social media sites in order to create a sense of “envy” among their followers and persuade them to purchase the product. However, bigger is not always better, the person with the most followers is not always the best option. A social media user with a slightly above average number of followers may sell the product better than a huge star that does not have as strong of a loyalty base. Consumers are more likely to shop using social media if they know that the site is legitimate and credential, which is confirmed by the validation of a social media star that they follow and admire. Brand influencers are gaining popularity across all social media platforms, but specifically Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. For example, fitness blogger Whitney Simmons has over two million followers on her Instagram account and also runs a YouTube account. Her following is increasing on a daily basis, leading the athletic apparel company GymShark to adopt Simmons as a brand influencer. Simmons frequently posts pictures and videos wearing GymShark clothing during her workouts and promotes their new clothing releases. Whitney Simmon's followers in return purchase these products upon release because they trust and admire Whitney Simmons.


Since 2011, the popularity and usage of the smart phone, in particular iPads and iPhones increased. This altered the way consumer's were interacting and accessing with the fashion world. Instagram launched in 2010, the app since then has gained over 200 million users, over 25 billion images shared so far, averaging 1.6 billion likes per day (Wilson, A. 2014).[7] These figures suggest that content postedis very exposed and Instagram is a good tool to reach a large number of people. Instagram is now seen as one of the most powerful tools in shaping the way consumers perceive brands. Mohr, I. 2013 states: "Instagram in particular has been a game changer for up to date, direct interaction between brands and consumers. This has been a popular method of exhibiting fashion as there is little filter to the content posted. It is raw and straight from the brands themselves". It is rare that a message is un-manipulated on its way to the consumer from the brand; so social media has been a game changer in the sense that the content posted is raw. social media is great.

With over 200 million active users, access to fresh content from creative, likeminded people is virtually unlimited. Many fashion forward Instagram accounts with large followings are able to turn their passion into a business, generating huge income. Fashion labels that understand these accounts influence, have harnessed their huge exposure and often pay high amounts for features of their clothing. (Penny, S. 2015)[8] confirms their influence: "Creative influencers are becoming increasingly popular and lucrative channels for brands. Unlike many celebrities, they are not just mouthpieces for brands. Instead, audiences view them as authoritative and trustworthy – which in a world that is increasingly reliant on word-of-mouth over traditional advertising can be priceless" Vogue's editor-in-chief Anna Wintour also has realized the power of social media and used it to create hype around the Magazine. "In 2013, when industry doyenne and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour instagrammed herself reading her own September issue, Wilson 'encouraged' Vogue to challenge to challenge its fans to make the same pose. Thousands did. Many involved babies and dogs. I call it the moment Anna blessed Instagram" Whitford, E (2015)[9] explains.

Fashion blogging[edit]

"Blogs are usually maintained by an individual or business with regular entries of commentary, description of events, or other material such as graphics or video. 'Blog' can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog" (Bodnar, K. 2011).[10] Fashion blogging has become popular since 2011, blogs often cover the industry as a whole, personal style, reviews of clothing items and collections. Fashion bloggers have a very high status of legitimacy and those with large followings have power in the fashion world. Bloggers success comes from being individual, relatable, achievable and having some elite status for legitimacy. The status of bloggers has shifted from being amateur to trendsetters and are often gaining invites to the top fashion houses shows during fashion week. As said by Mohr, I (2013) "Once considered fashion-obsessed amateurs, style bloggers have matured into fashion trendsetters and the savvy marketers command four and five figure fees from brands" As said by Mohr, I (2013).


Marc by Marc Jacobs[edit]

Another example of a designer harnessing the power of social media to promote and expose their brand was Marc Jacobs model casting. Marc by Marc Jacobs is a secondary line aimed at selling lower priced goods but still have the reputation of a designer label. To showcase his new line, Marc selected models from Instagram that had the hash-tag #Marc. The campaign had almost 70,000 entries from around the world. The head designer discussed his casting: "It seemed like a great idea to me, as casting through Instagram seemed cool, current and strong. We wanted the ads to shout with youth and energy. To be fresh and reclaim the spirit that the collection had when we first conceived of it- to be another collection not a second line". Marc by Marc Jacobs not only promoted his line, but also made it more relatable and achievable to his target market through social media.

Tommy Hilfiger[edit]

Popular fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger has incorporated social media into their marketing strategy effectively. They have understood the power that it has and the influence on consumers. By having someone who is well known and admired the brand received positive attention. Gigi Hadid is one of the most popular super models of 2016, with the Instagram following of 15.5 million people. She has modelled for the cover of Vogue, W, Harpers Bazaar, Elle, TeenVogue, Numéro, Schön! And CR Fashion Book, along with appearing in music videos and television programs around the world. (PVH, C. 2012).[11] Tommy Hilfiger has cast Gigi as the brand ambassador for their fall 2016 collection. Releasing footwear, sportswear, sunglasses, watches and fragrances all with Gigi's influence. "Dubbed a "social supermodel," Hadid has been credited with reshaping the world of modeling in the 21st century, and reinventing the role of the supermodel in millennial culture" She has a great relationship with her fans all over the world through her various social media accounts, (PVH, C. 2012). By being Ambassador for tommy Hilfiger brings this large followings attention to the brand and exposes the line to a much larger audience than traditional print media. Also to walk in Tommy Hilfiger shows are influential social-models such as: Kendall Jenner, Georgia May Jagger, Hailey Baldwin, Lizzy Jagger, Bella Hadeid, Binx Walton and Stella Maxwell. (PVH, C. 2012). The designer himself comments on his relationship with Gigi: "I've known Gigi and her family for years, and it has been amazing to watch her grow into one of the world's top models and most-followed fashion influencers." Gigis influence will be of great benefit to Tommy Hilfiger's Fall 2016 collection.

Charlotte Russe[edit]

Charlotte Russe has a successful social media campaign with a strong following on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Their social media campaign is focused on "user-generated content and social engagement."[12] Charlotte Russe holds a weekly trivia contest on Twitter, which compels consumers to visit their website. According to Wright Lee, "Charlotte Russe is running 'Be The Next Charlotte Russe Design Star' a T-shirt design contest where the winner will have his or her shirt produced and sold online.".[12]

Diane von Furstenberg[edit]

Diane von Fürstenberg is one of the most popular designers on Twitter. According to Hitha Prabhakar, sources inside von Fürstenberg's company claim that "[w]ithin the last year of having a major online and social media presence, von Furstenberg's online traffic has increased by 13%."[13] The brand uses the re-tweeting capability on Twitter to capture the attention of their target market.

Louis Vuitton[edit]

Louis Vuitton is a late adopter of social media sites, but that has not stopped them from building an advantageous campaign. According to Dana Gers, who specializes in marketing communications for luxury brands, "Louis Vuitton broadcasts its spring 2010 ready-to-wear show live exclusively to Facebook followers, offering a big incentive for recruiting new fans and a reward to its most passionate customers."[14]


In 2012, Topshop partnered with Facebook to achieve the largest online audience of a live-stream London fashion show. Over 200 million people were exposed to images and content from the runway. A direct impact was seen by Topshop as customers were able to immediately purchase the looks from the runway, with the first dress on the catwalk selling out before the end of the show.[15]

Positive/negative aspects[edit]


  • Raw, un-manipulated content published by the brands itself
  • Consumers have instant access to content
  • Brands and their ad agencies can post content instantly, to respond to rapidly changing trends
  • Useful tool to create hype and "buzz" around a product
  • Relatively easy to locate consumers in the target market and reach them
  • Can promote sales and deals easier than traditional print media
  • Consumers are able to give direct feedback in the form of likes, comments, views, and shares.
  • Celebrity endorsements on social media increase sales dramatically


  • Too much information is being sent to consumers over the Internet, which can make it hard to break through the "clutter" of information overload
  • Due to the further development of social media, luxury brands not only promote on social media but also offer e-commerce as a new distributional channel in the market. However, it has triggered the increase of possibility of channel conflict, and the enlargement of the negative impact of increased distribution control: The luxury brands do not intend to sell their product at a lower price than that in physical stores. Therefore, most of those luxury brands, for protecting their brand reputation, have prohibited high discount on social media for attracting consumers to shop online.[16]
  • Regional conflicts of products prices on social media, in addition, have impacted the sales in physical stores. It has broken up the regional price structure of diversity in the market.[17]Specifically, if a brand sells a higher price in the Chinese physical store than that in Europe, Chinese consumers could buy the same products through the European website channels at a lower price. However, if the authority decides to close the online shopping, a key branch of business for the brands would be lost. In addition, the channel operation of social media brings a negative impact on the physical stores. Specifically, as significant numbers of brands have established their official accounts on social media, the brand loyalty of consumers will be impaired by the massive comparison of products from the various brand.

Impact on Consumers[edit]

Some argue that social media does not always have a positive impact on retail and consumers as a whole. The reasoning behind this belief is for the perception of how we see ourselves versus others. For example, if an Instagram user is scrolling through their feed and sees multiple pictures of thin models with perfect hair and makeup as a way to advertise a brand, it may give that social media user a negative perception of themselves. This causes an attachment between the viewer of the post and social media, since they begin to accumulate their self-worth from social media rather than themselves.[18] However, these ads are not projected as a negative way for others to view themselves, but just as a way to showcase new trends. Brands such as Aerie by American Eagle have campaigns that show “untouched” models that are not photo shopped wearing Aerie's undergarments and clothing as a way to combat this criticism. Body positivity is a movement that is on the rise to help women and men feel more confident in their bodies and not to compare themselves to people that they see on social media sites. Consumers are now so fascinated by the concept of “likes” and want to look and dress like others. Social media is making this easier than ever, and retailers are taking full advantage of this. Many retailers have implemented social media as a way to advertise their products among “brand influencers,” who are essentially social media users with a high following that can persuade their followers to buy a particular product. Retailers strategically pick who they want to advertise their products, which is mainly decided by making sure that their target markets align. Social media has not only changed how consumers shop, but also how retailers position themselves into the marketplace.

Engagement ads[edit]

Facebook developed engagement ads that allow more communication between advertisers and Facebook users. Here are some terms Facebook provides to help advertisers know how engaging their ads are:

  • Interactions: Total number of comments, wall posts, and likes.
  • Interactions Per Post: Average number of comments, Wall posts, and likes generated by each piece of content you post.
  • Post Quality: Score measuring how engaging your content is to Facebook users. A higher Post Quality indicates material that better engages users.
  • Posts: Number of posts your Page has made either on the Wall or in video.
  • Page Views: Number of times your Page has been viewed by Facebook users.
  • Stream CTR / ETR: This graph is a measure of the Click Through Rate and Engagement Rate for your content appearing in the Facebook News Feed. If a user clicks on one of your posts, that will be counted as Stream CTR. If a user likes or comments on one of your posts, that will be counted in the Stream ETR. Please note that Stream data is based on a sample and therefore is an estimate of your Stream CTR and ETR. (Coming soon)
  • Media consumption: This graph tracks how many photo views, audio plays, and video plays your content have received.
  • Discussion Posts: Total number of discussion posts written by fans.
  • Reviews: Number of times your Page has been rated in the Reviews application.[19]


  1. ^ Mohr, I. (2013). The impact of social media on the fashion industry. The Journal of Applied Business and Economics, 15(2), 17-22. Retrieved from
  2. ^ Sarah, H. (2016, March 21). For fashion fans, Instagram leads the pack. Canberra Times. p. 9.
  3. ^ "Impact of Social Media on Fashion" 13 January 2013
  4. ^ Wright, Macala. "Gilt Group Launches New App for Android." FashionablyMarketing.Me. 22 July 2010. Web. 23 July 2010. <>.
  5. ^ Rueter, Thad. 11 March 2011 <>
  6. ^ GIROTRA, KARAN, et al. "Welcome to the Social Media Shopping Mall." Acuity, vol. 3, no. 11, Dec. 2016, pp. 44-45. EBSCOhost, &AN=120541293&site=ehost-live.
  7. ^ Wilson, A. (2014). The app of influence. Creative Review, 34(10), 54-57.
  8. ^ Penny, S. (2015). PEDDLING INFLUENCE. Creative Review, 35(9), 30–32.
  9. ^ Whitford, E. (2015). FOR ITS BEAUTIFUL RELATIONSHIP WITH THE FASHION INDUSTRY. Fast Company, (193), 74-75.
  10. ^ Bodnar, K. (2011, Dec 30). The Ultimate Glossary: 120 Social Media Marketing Terms Explained. HubSpot. Retrieved from Media-Marketing-Terms-Explained.aspx
  11. ^ PVH, C. (2012). Tommy Hilfiger Announces Gigi Hadid as Global Brand Ambassador for Tommy Hilfiger. Business Wire (English).
  12. ^ a b [1], Wright Lee, Macala. "5 Ways Social Media Changed Fashion in 2009." 2010 January.
  13. ^ Prabhakar, Hitha. "How the Fashion Industry is Embracing Social Media." 16 June 2010. <>.
  14. ^ Gers, Dana. "Social Climbing: Luxury Fashion Brands Must Embrace Social Media". 14 October 2009. <>.
  15. ^ Fashion meets social media at London Fashion Week 18 September 2012
  16. ^ "Luxury brands must redefine the way they do business". The Guardian. 2015-09-10. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  17. ^ "How 'participation brands' empower the market to do their marketing". Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  18. ^ VanMeter, Rebecca A., et al. "Of “Likes” and “Pins”: The Effects of Consumers' Attachment to Social Media." Journal of Interactive Marketing, vol. 32, 01 Nov. 2015, pp. 70-88. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.intmar.2015.09.001.
  19. ^ "New Page Insights: Fan Interaction Graphs." 5 July 2010. <

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