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Are Fashion Forward Designers Really Making The Most of Social Media?

Social media has undoubtedly transformed the independent fashion industry... but to what extent?

22nd Jan 2017

Image Credit: Tommy Hilfiger

Social media has found itself as one the modern era's most powerful mediums for fashion.

Social media represents the great connector between Instagram famous celebrities and emerging brands with increasingly large pockets. Fashion lines have been gifted a new, cheaper marketing trail - a bountiful package that includes a free platform, inexpensive endorsements and greater interaction with contemporary youth culture.

Gone are the days when you have to spend 7 figures for Natalie Portman or Thandie Newton to endorse your brand. At a much lower cost, designers can pick up a social media personality who hosts hundreds of thousands to millions of followers to show off their best garments. To many, this new dynamic in the fashion market means greater inclusiveness as the elitist exclusive barriers of the fashion industry are being disarmed by such a modern accessible instrument of digital communication. However, in a day and age where people are more interested in using social media influence as a tool to embody the same blanket image rather than an individual ones, vast dangers are posed to the authenticity of the indie fashion industry.

Zara has been accused of selling rip off versions of Kanye West's clothes

Fashion forward designers are finding that authentic artistry for a niche market rarely works in today's digital environment.

In a recent interview, Peter Michael, co-owner of Roses Are Red clothing group and graduate from Central St. Martins Fashion School, said "People aren't interested in indie unless indie is the trend. Once, back in pre-Kardashian days when curvy figures were a rarity in media, nobody would think of wearing velvet bodicons that emphasise curves. Now every female store online I see has the same pieces- what Kylie wore last week and for men it's all cheap rip offs of Kanye's line or an ASOS design. Everybody looks the same, originality is no longer original and all it results in is the adding of change to Chinese manufacturer's pockets"

In an era where the aesthetic is the elite and the elite is the social media laced reality star, are we all falling into a trap of hyper consumer behaviour where the authenticity of artistic measure no longer matters? Are social media platforms like Depop, Tumblr and Instagram encouraging enterprise of the creative or the merchandising of intelligent social media connectivity?

If it is the latter then the question we pose is simple. How can we expect the independent fashion industry to prosper and become widely accessible if it continues to follow copy cat brands. Surely by doing so, it looses all elements of what makes it independent? I mean isn't the point of social media marketed fashion brands the lack in costs and easy direct access to target audience? How best can we support the original and source it from the crowd of frauds? I like to think with personal integrity, taste and the desire to pursue our individualism.

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