New Media : A new platform for the fashion industry

Social media has opened doors to new and emerging designers with small budgets to push their creativity and contribute to the fashion world by actively staying plugged-in. Designers and brands now market themselves directly to clients through the social media and gradually build brand loyalty because of the user-friendly and accessible nature of social media, write Mahesh Shaw and Mehak Mittal.

New Media is a catch term of the 21st Century. Very broadly, new media is something related to the internet and the interplay among technology, images, and sound. It is about making things digital, and has characteristics of being manipulated, networkable, dense, compressible and interactive. The various forms of new media are internet, websites, computer multimedia, computer games, CD-ROMS and DVDs. The population of internet users is increasing at a very fast rate. According to a nationally representative survey by the Pew Research Centre’s Internet and American Life Project, some 70 per cent of American adults aged 18 and older have speed-broadband connection at home as of May 2013. India has the 3rd largest internet user population after China and the US as per the report.

The internet is one of the forms of new media which we use extensively. We say humans are social animals. We now say humans are digital animals. We tweet, re-tweet, share, post, upload, comment, like, follow and update 24/7. For us, being social means going digital in the world of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr and LinkedIn which are the most commonly used social media networks. Not only is our social life getting digitalised, our entire lifestyle is also getting progressively influenced by the internet. People chat, have online discussions and forums on micro-blogging sites, read books, magazines, and newspapers on the web, shop online, email, and surf various search engines for anything and everything they want to know either on their phones or tablets. Social media is the most popular form of new media used for virtual communication, which allows us to stay connected to all of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances with the click of a button.

Social media and fashion

The fashion industry uses social media as a promising platform to connect with consumers directly. Social media is used by brands of all categories. It has also played a major role in helping the fashion industry reach out to a much wider customer base with lesser costs and more presence in the digital world. All fashion brands and designers have a Facebook page, and a Twitter and an Instagram accounts. Brands have also started previewing their collections exclusively on Pinterest.

To drive growth, to be more exclusive, and to augment the user’s online brand experience, luxury brands Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, and Burberry have launched their own social networks. Chanel along with its social networking site has also launched an application with Apple where it allows users to catch up on the latest news, watch exclusive ready-to-wear shows, browse through looks, and also locate stores nearby. DKNY used Instagram to interact one-to-one with fans.

Burberry used Snapchat to reveal its spring/summer 2016 collections a full day before it hits the catwalk. Tommy Hilfiger posts 360 degree videos to Twitter.

A great example of interactive communication with customers is Burberry’s “Art of the Trench” campaign where people were encouraged to upload images of themselves wearing Burberry’s signature item-their trenchcoat. The photographer and blogger of The Sartorialist took pictures of people on streets wearing trenchcoats. This allowed them to communicate and connect with customers at a new and real level.

Social media has opened doors to new and emerging designers with small budgets to push their creativity and contribute to the fashion world by actively staying plugged-in. Designers and fashion brands now market themselves directly to clients through the social media and gradually build brand loyalty because of the user-friendly and accessible nature of social media. Recently, Masaba Gupta and Oscar De La Renta live streamed their fashion shows on Instagram and Pinterest. Designer Misha Nonoo used Instagram to showcase her full spring/summer collections 2016.

There was a time when a designer’s inspiration came from his/her travels or maybe sometimes a muse. Now, a designer prefers to make a quick trip through some online sites, with the followers being their travelling buddies. As Clare WaightKeller of Chloe observed: “A mood board that would have taken a few weeks of solid research can now be assembled in an afternoon on Instagram. The fashion industry’s pace today has made it hard to find time for travel beyond the virtual kind, with exploratory trips and gallery visits increasingly difficult to squeeze into the dizzying demand for collections.”

Blogs and fashion

Blogs are personal websites, “usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video, where entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order.” At present, there are millions of fashion blogs worldwide that are updated regularly with new fashion trends. The blog’s effectiveness is due to its strong individual, personal, popular, and elitist point of view. Its engaging experience offers readers the opportunity to voice opinions and challenge fashion critics.

Updates by fashion bloggers these days also encourage the involvement of readers in the fashion making process as they impact consumer purchasing decisions. A positive review from these influential individuals is something that an advertising agency also cannot buy. Commenting on the widespread blogger noise, blogger BryanBoy says, “If I send a tweet, within a few seconds readers will be responding and it engages them with the designer.”

As more brands and designers offer live streaming and online replays of their shows, the average person can both appreciate and enjoy the whole experience. Instagram and Facebook updates posted by the spectators straight from the runway, help people relate and engage themselves just like the ones sitting and enjoying the shows live. This way everyone has the same access to the fashion domain, changing the nature of the fashion weeks. Of course, an online stream can never replace the grand experience and marvel of watching a fashion show live but it definitely gives designers and brands much greater exposure. And since the internet has become such an indispensable part of our lives these days, we say Go Digital!

The days to come

Social media, blogs, live streaming channels, and mobile applications are very much present in the fashion industry. Brands and designers can easily connect with consumer on a personal basis. They can understand their requirements, and take reviews and feedback. Word of mouth on the Internet spreads like virus. It helps increase brand awareness, loyalty and promotion to a wider consumer base. The diverse social network platforms give us the gift of endless accessibility to each and every show happening all around the world. Even designers from the most obscure towns and cities have easy access to the hottest fashion trends, all thanks to the latest technology, which has directed immense change in the way people accept and buy fashion.