Over the past five years, the rise of social media has caused a major shift in the fashion industry, and especially during Fashion Week. Social media has lifted the curtain on a once-exclusive tradition that was shrouded in mystery. Some might even argue that it was the enormous influx of social media posts that caused the see-now, buy-now paradigm shift. From models Snapchatting behind the scenes before shows even start to designers prereleasing looks — and even whole collections — on Instagram, now more than ever, Fashion Month can really be experienced by anyone with a smartphone.
The concept of see-now, buy-now fashion may seem obvious to some, but this straight-to-market model is a major shakeup for Fashion Week. In times past, designers would show collections that would only become available months later. Buyers would attend the shows and decide what pieces would later be carried in their stores. Social media changed all of this. With editors and bloggers posting runway photos to feeds on Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, people started to want what they saw immediately.
Industry giants like Tom Ford and Burberry are abandoning the old schedule in favor of allowing customers to instantly purchase what they see on the runway. The reasoning is clear: the industry has changed to be incredibly fast-paced and social media driven. Designers and retailers know they must adapt to survive.
Another side effect the social media wave has had on Fashion Week is the unique behind-the-scenes view that social platforms have to offer. Now Fashion Week is as much about models Snapchatting before a show as it is about the actual runway. Designers and magazines alike are vying to get the It model of the moment to take over their accounts for the hours leading up to the show. Fashion media consumers are just as if not more interested in what Taylor Hill looks like getting her makeup done than what she looks like on the runway.
Social media has made Fashion Week far more accessible. Before Snapchat and Instagram, there were substantial barriers to being a part of the action. Participating in Fashion Week as a nonindustry person meant buying a magazine, looking at a few runway shots, and reading reviews. Now bloggers harness social media to make Fashion Week digestible. Who wouldn't want to watch the Delpozo collection through Chiara Ferragni's front-row eyes?
So, is social media ruining the magic of Fashion Week? I say no. See now, buy now makes more sense for consumers and is proving to pump new life into previously struggling brands (most pieces from the Gigi x Tommy collab sold out in 24 hours). Furthermore, the BTS view that social media is giving the average person is nothing short of remarkable. Sure, you may be stuck on the bus or in line at Starbucks, but one scroll through Instagram and you're sitting front row at Gucci. Social media has given the fashion industry a much-needed shakeup. Thanks, Instagram!