The last few weeks we’ve repeatedly looked at how fashion and social media are almost completely integrated. It isn’t just trendy stores such as Forever21 or H&M who use it. Even top designers are now using social media to reach their consumers. I ran across an article that looked at fashion and social media in a whole different way. It explained that social media WAS a fashion business. We have all watched the different platforms of social media come and go. I’m sure a good number of us can still remember the days of MySpace and AIM chat. But MySpace has come and gone. Justin Timberlake purchased the site in hopes of revamping it and having it make a comeback. The attempts, from my point of view, have been quite unsuccessful. Facebook was the next big thing; however, over the last couple of years it has slowly started to become much less popular with the teens and young adults who once found it so fascinating. They are turning to things such as Vine, Snapchat or Twitter. The author in this article stated these same facts. Then he started comparing these trends to those in the fashion world, which I thought was actually a brilliant analogy. He stated that just as the fashion world works, whether it’s clothes, shoes, or accessories, fashion items come and go. He talks about the way fashion trends seem to work. The athletic shoe that originally home-sewn, then getting picked up by a boutique before Shia LaBeouf was photographed wearing them. Suddenly, these were the hot, new shoes. Not the ones that Emma Watson was photographed in the season before. Fashion items stem from this basic want or desire. It goes through a process just as social media sites do. First, they’re new and somewhat undiscovered by the masses, then almost overnight, they’re a worldwide sensation, and just as soon as they blossomed, they disappear becoming a distant memory and people are on to the next big thing. Social media is a way for people to stay connected. Communication is a basic human need. These platforms allow us to do just and are evolving at a rapid pace. One thing that’s important to remember though is that you cannot mistake a material innovation, such as Facebook, for technological innovation that creates real barriers to entry (Google, Amazon) and seeing the two as having the same value. They are not the same and you can’t compare them. It’s important to keep in mind that these material innovations, just as fashion trends, come and go rather quickly.
While on the topic of fashion trends, I found a study that had been conducted by a social intelligence company called NetBase. NetBase hired Edison Research to conduct a survey that was a representative sample of 18+ women in the U.S. who have one or more profiles on social networks. The basic concept of the study was to look at how social media influences a ladies’ fashion purchases. I found this particularly interesting considering our startup and the “For Locals Only” boutique coupon app we are creating is targeting 18-24 year old females. The study sampled 1.005 women in May 2013 and was modeled to the national U.S. population of adult female social media users. 17% of the sample, a total of 174 women were in the 18-24 age group, which are better known as the millennial generation. They found that 80% of millennials use social media “several times a day”, compared to the 59% of female social media users of all ages. Facebook was the most popular with millennials, 95% use it. Twitter came in 2nd with 72% and in third was Instagram with 64% using it. One interesting thing they found was that Tumblr, which has long been considered a millennial central ranked below Pinterest and Google+. Some other interesting things they found in the study were that 83% of millennials consult at least one social platform before purchasing in at least one fashion category. 28% of them are “social shoppers” whose buying is influenced by the brands /products that their friends use. Millennials are almost twice as liley to be social shoppers as other female social media users of all ages. Almost ¼ of female millennials are “trendsetters”, which were defined as social network users who were willing to pay a higher price to be the first to have a new product. They aslo found that when looking for a fashion inspiration, 58% of millennials will turn to Pinterest and 49% look to Instagram. At the end of the study, it was rather easy to see that the most socially influenced generation turns to social media for fashion tips, information, and inspiration. If the millennial generation is your target market, it is extremely important for you to have a presence on these social media platforms.
It is so important for someone going into the fashion industry to realize the power of social media. Like I said, if your wanting to target that millennial generation, you better have a social media presence. Well a new fashion startup is merging social media and fashion. It is called Stylinity. Stylinity unveiled its revolutionary Style Stage in New York back in October. Their Style Stage combines portrait-quality lighting, state-of-the-art optics, and cutting edge software to take high-resolution photos of shoppers in stores wearing retailer’s clothing. The Style Stage allows shoppers to get instant feedback from online networks through Stylinity’s website or other social media sites about people’s opinions on the outfits. This Style Stage is enhancing in-store experiences, making them more fun and social. The Style Stage allows for instant feedback, tags the outfits, allows customers to share them privately or publicly, and enables the customer to easily purchase the outfit online at a later time if they so choose. We have previously talked about the way retailers are relying more heavily on technology than actual salespeople in the recent years and I believe that this new revolution proves just that.
Sometimes it’s necessary to get back to the basics if you’re a fashion retailer, new or established. The fashion world used to be able to stay aloof and out of reach. Not anymore. If you’re an established retailer that seems to have dwindling sales or a new retailer looking to get your foot in the door, it’s important to look at how the fashion world has changed and you may have to revaluate your social media presence. First look at how other brands and designers in the fashion industry engage people. They all seem to be using the social media platforms as a way to go public with their thoughts, ideas and creations. They allow the every day person to get a sneak peek of fashion shows and new lines, a privilege that used to be held to the wealthy or the well connected. Second, look at why the fashion industry really needs social media. Diane von Furstenberg was quoted saying, “Ignoring the internet is madness. We decided to have a presence because it was a very organic way for us to communicate online.” People want to be able to communicate with the retailers or brands they are spending their hard earned money on and social media is a great way for them to do that. Then it is important to realize how social media can help your business. Everyone is using it to connect with customers, attract new customers with freebies and discounts, and keep existing customers around with giveaways. It allows these once unreachable brands and designers become relatable and transparent. Lastly, you need to look at what social media can do for the fashion industry, specifically your business, in the future! Social media isn’t just a way for retailers or designers to showcase their clothing. It’s a place where they can learn from the customers. They’re able to read exactly what it is a customer wants or needs. If a customer is unhappy with a purchase and they voice that opinion on social media, it gives the retailer a chance to make things right with that customer, ultimately keeping them as a consumer. Looking at these basic things while evaluating your social media presence can really help you boost your business or keep you ahead of the game.
A young jewelry designer is doing just that. He is using the power of social media to promote his new jewelry. His name is Georgy Rushev, a 24 year old who has made quite a name for himself in a rather small amount of time. He dropped out of college to pursue his dream. Rushev said he never wanted to organize a show of his own, he believed they’re too expensive. Instead he has used social media as a way to showcase his beautiful jewelry. He stated that if you are talented, you will get noticed. Rushev will be displaying a special collection at a trade show in Milan. The trade show will have a potential 40,000 buyers. This just goes to show you that the power of social media holds no limits.
Rushev seemed to make breaking through on social media look easy. However, that is not always the case. The Wall Street Journal had a really interesting article, “Three Ways To Break Through on Social Media”. I read through it finding it very helpful and informative only to then realize who wrote it. It was Gary Vaynerchuk. I couldn’t help but laugh and realize why the article was so helpful. Vaynerchuk himself is an extremely successful entrepreneur. We’ve discussed him in our class since day 1. Needless to say, I found what Mr. Vaynerchuk said to be relevant to our startup and can see why Dr. Graybeal wants us to strive to “eat Vaynerchuk’s lunch”. In the article, Gary explains that the only way you’re going to break through on social media is if you bring some value to your followers. Also, the most important thing you have to understand is that value is subjective. The three ways he says you can break through are access, content, and curation. He believes that these three things will not only bring value to social media but also help bring value under any circumstances.