Instagram has quickly become an integral part of the social media strategy utilised by fashion brands. With its simplistic format, eye-catching photography and total creative freedom, it is a tool to showcase the best clothing pieces designers have to offer in an accessible and authentic way. But is its rapid growth and universality shifting the fashion industry from an art form that requires years to master to a free-for-all for all aspiring fashionistas?
Launched in 2010, Instagram now has over 800 million monthly users and appears to be growing at a rate that will see it hit 1 billion by the end of the year. Its global reach allows users to present trends in a saturated market without becoming repetitive, and the variation of posts enables individuals to create a brand identity that their followers can recognise. It's become increasingly obvious that for any brand to fully cement themselves as a key player in the world of fashion they require a strong presence on Instagram to drive of sales and overall brand awareness. Emphasis is placed on moments being 'Instagrammable' and brands take huge pride in creating an Instagram feed that not only looks beautiful but persuades the user to purchase their products over a competitors.
Instagram has become a platform of opportunity with more and more homegrown brands using it as a place to generate attention - and income - from their products. Similarly, established brands are aware that it has a huge influence over consumer sales. Official Instagram figures indicated that 1 in 3 of its users has bought an item of clothing after discovering it on their feed. Using photoshoots and 'easy on the eye' flat lays to generate revenue is a tempting prospect for companies, who, when implementing an effective and strategised posting schedule, can add real value to their brand. Posting regularly, following trends and racking up the likes is a surefire way to convert posts into purchases.
Using the application, fashion brands are easily able to connect with thousands of influencers who have a significant impact on their own followers' buying choices. Not only can the brand create a direct line between themselves and the consumer, but by paying influencers to promote their products, they're able to further increase their reach. There is concern within the fashion industry that Instagram is facilitating a new age of fashion branding where ever-changing trends are increasingly accessible and brand exposure makes way for cheaply made 'dupes'. It is, however, difficult to deny the opportunities the platform creates for brands to identify trends and meet consumer demands accordingly.
A huge benefit of Instagram for fashion brands is the means of communication between them and their customers. Having a comments section allows for instant feedback on products, as well as customers being given an opportunity to seek customer service support. Building trust, particularly as a new brand, is vital in retaining customers and generating new sales, so this open line of communication seemingly adds to the customer experience.
It's undeniable that Instagram has made a big impact on the fashion industry. Instagram brands might not be a sustainable alternative to traditionally marketed fashion labels, but creating your brand from your fingertips has certainly never been easier.