Providing new accessibility to product isn’t the only way Instagram has affected fashion retail. This week, we spoke to three experts who said it’s also impacting what type of purchases shoppers make and where they shop offline.
Reinforcing high-low dressing
Speaking on the Tech and Sustainability in Fashion panel kicking off Brooklyn Fashion Week on Monday, fashion anthropologist Mikaila Brown, founder of fashion-focused travel company The Common Thread Project, said Instagram is driving shoppers to make fast-fashion purchases.
“Instagram is making our clothing more disposable than ever,” she said. “In days gone by, you could get away with wearing the same outfit multiple times, as long as the audience was different. Now, because we are incessantly posting our lives for all to see, people are less prone to rewear a look. Everybody is constantly ‘doing it for the Gram’. And this is only fueled by fast fashion: Before, you had to wait for a new season to get a new look. Now you only have to wait a week.”
She called the saddest fallout to this phenomenon the fact that millennials and Gen Z are forming fewer personal connections to their clothing. “A particular dress no longer conjures up memories of an important evening with family,” she said. “Now an article of clothing is judged by how many likes it garnered, rather than how it actually makes you feel.”
But Instagram is also increasing the pressure to wear high-fashion styles, as tagging pieces by top designers tends to boost both fashion cred and followers.
Those things are especially important for budding influencers attempting to compete in the crowded space.
“You’ve got to fake it till you make it,” said Roxy Ortiz, a wardrobe stylist who just launched Elevated Layers, a designer clothing rental service intended for influencers looking to up their game. While dabbling as an influencer, she realized what was separating herself from the big names in the space was a designer wardrobe. So, to increase her following, she wound up blowing a lot of money on luxury things. “When you’re growing your small business, you need to provide a value proposition; brands only want your audience.”
On Instagram, she said, clothing is a tool. “It can elevate your content and also grow your personal brand because it expresses your style.”
Changing where consumers shop offline
Content and marketing strategist Alyssa Bronander echoed that sentiment, following this week’s launch party of self-care editorial site The Chill Times, which featured a photo-ready activation by her client Buffy.
“The social tag has become this generations ‘label,’” she said. “Whether it’s detailing the designer of the piece you’re wearing or the location of the store you’re visiting, it shows the world which brands you’re aligning yourself with in the same way as the graphic accessories of our past.”
She said it’s allowed smaller, creative-first indie brands to grow an avid fan base solely through Instagram and forced traditional retailers to elevate their visual design. “The lure of an Instagrammable facade or a sun-drenched interior can increase foot traffic and bolster consumer discovery. The infamous pink Paul Smith wall in LA and the delightful french cafe in the front of Sezane’s SoHo store are perfect examples.”
In The Insider, an industry expert weighs in on a question submitted by a Glossy+ reader.
Julie: What’s the secret to reaching Gen-Z customers?
Erin Gade, marketing strategist at Yes Lifecycle Marketing:
“The secret is to understand their needs and expectations as shoppers, and to then deliver an authentic brand experience, especially on social media and in-store. As you might expect, more than 80 percent of Gen Z consumers say social media influences their shopping decision, but you might be surprised to know that Gen Z shops in-store during the holidays more than their older generational counterparts. Gen Z’s expectations differ vastly from their counterparts, and communicating to them in a way that resonates is key. Brands should also focus on influencer marketing. Gen Z’s consistent use of social channels means influencers have an outsize impact on their preferences, especially when it comes to fashion trends. So to reach these young shoppers when and how they shop, brands should use a cross-channel approach that personalizes marketing offers and messages, and maximizes influencer potential.”
Sandi Harari, evp and creative director at Barker:
“Authenticity; be honest about what’s in it for them; speak like a human, not an advertiser; allow your brand personally to shine through. If it resonates with them, they are in. This is a political generation, as evidenced by the #enough movement. They are driven and ready to change the world to meet their ideals. Taking risks as a brand and sharing your beliefs is going to get you much farther with this generation. They are only going to align with brands that share their beliefs about the world.”
Leora Elituv, designer at Kisuii:
“I really think an emphasis on e-commerce is so important! When we launched, we put equal focus on our wholesale strategy and making our website aesthetically beautiful, on-brand and user-friendly. Now that we have entered Year 2 of our business, we are constantly working to update our website to drive sales, while integrating it into our social media and digital strategy — both of which are really the main way we are reaching our Gen Z consumers.”
Zineb Britel, founder of Zyne:
“The secret is to constantly create a variety of product while adhering to a coherent story. We’ve found that they want to be a part of the experience and the adventure, but also need to connect with the brand personally — because if they don’t feel engaged, they can quickly tune a brand out. We’ve also found Gen Z will try new things without preconceptions of how something should be done. As a new startup ourselves, some customers may think that ordering shoes from Morocco and paying through Paypal is a bit dubious, but our customers, specifically, the Gen Z ones, have trusted us from Day 1. They are a truly global generation that doesn’t perceive boundaries in the way generations before them have.”
Want to know what industry insiders are saying about another topic related to fashion, luxury or tech? Enter the topic here.
It’s never been a more interesting — or challenging — time to be a retailer. Consumers are changing how they shop. The rise of e-commerce giants has shifted power centers. There are more ways to reach consumers than ever before, and the ways that retailers distribute and market their products have changed dramatically. Coupled with the rise of globalization and a more vocal customer base that demands authenticity and transparency, changing the way retailers operate demands a major shift, both internally and externally.
Join us at the Glossy Summit May 21-23 as we discuss these trends and what they will mean for fashion, luxury and beauty marketers going into the future.
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The Glossy Podcast
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“Retail in the U.S. will have to reinvent itself. It’s impossible to have a culture where no one ever pays full price and still make money.”
–Scott Malkin, founder and chairman of Value Retail, in ‘If you’re at Saks Off Fifth, game’s over’: Value Retail’s Scott Malkin on the dos and don’ts of discounting