How Fashion Trends Are Being Dictated by Social Media Trends

Two members of Ketchum, Ryan Shell, Senior Manager, Online Communications, and Sarah Unger, Managing Account Supervisor, Creative Catalyst served on a panel discussion hosted by Fashion News Workshop (FNW)/Trends last week about the ways in which new media is affecting the fashion industry and, more broadly, our news cycles, trend spotting, and cultural commentary.

Specifically, new media is drastically changing the dialogue about fashion whereby we can act upon our on-demand desire for trends and gain access to them anytime, anywhere, and on any platform. Therefore, the industry must adapt to become highly interactive and cater itself accordingly to new distribution channels.

Also serving on the panel was Gingie McLeod of Gingie Designs, a fashion trend workshop, and Karen Giberson, the President of the Accessories Council. The panel was moderated by Erica Orange, a Futurist at Weiner, Edrich & Brown, who consults on trends and opportunities across different industries.

The conversation spanned several timely topics, including how additional platforms are democratizing our access to haute couture, the effects of real-time on demand for products ahead of their normal production cycles, the byproducts of new media on traditional income beds, and whether there is a widening generational divide as a result of new media. Below is a list of key takeaway points from the discussion:

  1. Blogs are being seen as legitimate forms of media and brands are amassing huge Twitter followings.  However, they still need to figure out how to translate this type of exposure into higher sales.
  2. In spite of these platforms empowering everyone to have a voice and be a so-called authority, the panel unanimously agreed the influx of opinions from the masses would not dilute content or make the experts obsolete.
  3. Street style is pivotal in providing third party endorsements and making fashion relatable to everyone.
  4. Although real-time access cannot be closely regulated, quality is still quality.  Consumers will be discerning when it comes to how, where, and when they consume the content.
  5. Real-time amplifies trends in a much shorter period of time, thereby requiring brands to be nimble and recalibrate their production cycles so their products are more readily available during the time they are generating the most buzz.
  6. As the metrics for success continue to evolve, clients are placing different emphasis on ROI and on subjective criteria like creating good will among consumers and raising awareness.
  7. Traditional media, such as magazines and newspapers, are not superfluous, but they must innovate alongside the web and reinvent the wheel in order to remain germane and useful.
  8. While everyone is quick to segment society into millennials vs. boomers, new media cuts across generations.  The nuanced marketing approaches should pertain to which audiences utilize which platforms, but the overarching touch-points for brands tend to remain the same.