How social media has led to a shift in the fashion industry

*Picture taken from Pixabay

Following the rise of the digital era and social media, we have begun to define ourselves and others based solely on a number of likes we receive on an Instagram post or Facebook status. It has radically changed how celebrities are perceived on social media. In the worlds of music and fashion, ‘likes’ are now essential to a clothing brand’s or artist’s overall success.

The success of a campaign is now measured on the gained exposure online through likes and shares as opposed to traditional methods such as billboards and television advertisements. Together with Trilogy Stores, retailers of designer high waisted jeans, we investigate how and why social media is having such a significant impact on the world of fashion.

The most likes

Selena Gomez recently had her title taken from her for the most likes on a single social media post. Previously Gomez held the title following an advertisement for Coca Cola, on June 25, 2016, she posted a picture of herself holding a bottle of coke, wearing a matching red racer top with red nails – gaining 6.7 million likes.

However, another figure now leads the way within the worlds of music and fashion; when BeyoncĂ© posted herself with a picture of her baby bump on February 1st, 2017, she gained 11m likes, a dramatic increase of 4.3m on Gomez’s record.

If celebrities can have such a big impact on social media – whilst influencing the world of fashion with the clothes that they wear – then how is social media influencing and changing the way the fashion industry operates to suit millions of users every day?

What comes first, the model or the followers?

In recent years, times have changed and it seems models are no longer founded upon their success within the fashion industry and the modelling shoots they appeared in. Here, we explore:

The model

Think back to when Naomi Campbell got her big break – it all started after getting her first break at the age of 15, she then went on to grace the covers of Time magazine, French Vogue, Russian Vogue, and was the first black model to appear on the cover of British Vogue. Her success then is based on how long she has been in the industry and how popular she has become over the years based on this fact, which has meant she is now known as one of first five original supermodels.

Nowadays, the likes of Kendall Jenner, currently the world’s most popular and in-demand model, was already famous before she became the model she is today. By appearing on Keeping Up with the Kardashians, her involvement with the world’s most televised family still has a direct impact on her popularity on social media, and consequently, her exposure within the world of fashion.

The followers

Jenner secured the top job as the face of Estee Lauder partly because of the fact she had over 81.6 million followers and 2,796 posts. The reason for this, is that social media accounts guarantee a level of success during a cosmetic or fashion campaign, this is because the face of that campaign is already a success as the ‘ultimate Instagirl’ or boy in their own right, which encourages the industry to choose these popular faces over newcomers who haven’t already had their first break.

Jenner is not the only popular figure to secure a big job based on the number of their followers. When Burberry discovered that Brooklyn Beckham had 5.9 million followers in 2016 – now 10m – he was chosen to photograph Maddie Demaine for Burberry’s Brit fragrances ad campaign. After being chosen over many professional photographers in the industry, this created a new precedent within the fashion industry. Now, fashion campaigns can be dictated by the level of followers a particular model or person has, not their knowledge of the industry or their contributions to popular culture outside the online world of social media. It’s not just the model that needs social media leverage, even the backstage team (make-up artists, stylists, and producers) need to be known on social media before they can be involved in a major fashion shoot.

How is social media changing consumer behaviours?

Evolving tradition

Social media has the ability to push a brand out there. By turning the traditional fashion industry on its head, which has been built on exclusivity and a ‘private members club’ mentality, social media is beginning to change this. By portraying fashion online in this way, the feel of the campaign looks more casual – as though users are being exposed to this secretive world for the first time.

Buying the image

Fashion houses are now realizing how effective social media campaigns can be for their brand. Some of the biggest fashion houses are starting to combine the ability to purchase their products with the images and catwalks that help to build-up their brand identity. By doing so, their online businesses receive more customers through greater engagement with smart devices.

As the first fashion house to stream their catwalk online, Burberry also allowed their guests at the show to buy a garment on their smartphone as soon as the model walked past them. As well as this, to debut their spring/summer collection in 2016, Burberry previewed it on social media platform snapchat before its official release.

And Burberry isn’t the only brand integrating social media into their fashion campaigns – Michael Kors has also taken advantage of integrating their fashion campaign alongside their buying platforms online. Through smart hashtag campaigns, Michael Kors sent an email to users who liked their products with the link to buy the product online, with the hashtag #InstaKors. Through considered hashtag campaigns such as these, fashion houses are able to bridge the gap between a fashionable image, and their ability to buy the product.

Companies have realized the impact social media can have on their campaigns – now, those with higher levels of engagement on Instagram are starting to increase their product portfolio online, and they are growing their online sales faster than competitors that aren’t taking advantage of online social platforms. If companies within the luxury brand market are unable to take advantage of how consumers are interacting online, in the future, they may lose out to their competitors who are.


  1. This is good to know information. Social media has taken the world by storm. There is not a single industry that will not benefit from it. I have many friends who are fashion bloggers and who engage on social media for better reach for their campaigns. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Social media has indeed brought loads of changes in our lives and has a major impact on decision making that we do for everyday things.

  3. Great post, thanks for sharing this information, social media indeed skyrocket fashion industry to new level

  4. I love how social media has changed the nature in which we interact with each other and businesses and industries. Most things in our lives now are involved with social media!

  5. Social media has greatly influenced the fashion industry. Once a post with a product goes viral, and gain a gazillion likes, it is likely that those people that "liked" will purchase the product.

  6. I am sure that social media has further exposed influencers and models about their popularity and the following that they have. It is definitely a good way for companies to find the popularity of someone.

  7. A great and interesting read and one that, until now never really stood out to how true it is.