The fashion industry is often characterised as quite the fickle one; fashionistas are well known for treating their work in a highly regarded manner, and as such aren’t known for their engagement with their customers- years studying fashion and clothes making do give one an excuse to produce items free from the yoke of continual critique. As such the fashion world was rather late to the social media party, only engaging in the mediums one-way forms of connections, using these to advertise sales or promotions. Luckily, however, the sartorial stars have started to shirk the feeling that social media engagement would tarnish the aspirational image of their brands, reaching out and fully engaging with this new relationship between consumer and brand.
It has been interesting watching the fashion world come to terms with social media. Brands have started to turn away from the one dimensional promo route, using twitter and Facebook to actually connect with fans. Brands now regularly post real-time trends from their new designers and lines; during New York fashion week 2012, 671,028 tweets were posted by brands and their fans- Victoria Beckham gained 53,700 followers, Michael Kors gained 15,300 and Mark Jacobs 5,300. These figures really show the impact a proactive social media presence can have on the fashion industry.
Brands are also taking advantage of the enormous amount of user-generated content that is created surrounding the fashion industry. Take Coach’s Holiday Blog-A-Day programme; the company hired thirty bloggers and vloggers to write a post in the run up to the holiday season, boosting sales by making regular people the ‘voice’ of the brand. Photo combinations that are then picked and posted on a brand’s Facebook page; utilising users’ product reviews, improving lines and setting the stage for next year’s; Charlotte Russe’s trivia contest that can earn fans prizes; all of these things point to a new age in the fashion world, one that is not exclusionary and aspirational, but one that is collaborative, entertaining and engaging.
Will all of this attention aimed at social media pay off, though? Some in the industry have seen the move as a form of online gambling. Now having a quick game on springbokcasino is a lot of fun. Cheap, quick, secure and effective, online casinos and theirs and their customers’ investments are pretty safe and sound compared to the possible predicaments that the fashion industry might be plunged in to if this social media gamble doesn’t pay off. The gamble that fashion retailers are making by investing so heavily in social media is far more serious. With an increasingly exposed, public-facing business, the likelihood of wrong-steps and controversy is pretty high- take the recent outcry against the use of Angora rabbit fur in the industry- and the amounts invested may also not yield returns all that high; likes aren’t as secure as hard currency