With over one billion users worldwide, Instagram has fundamentally changed many aspects of our lives. The photo-sharing app, which launched just over ten years ago, has altered the way we present ourselves to the world, the way we keep in touch with family and friends and the way we find out the news. It also has altered the ins and outs of clothing brands and how they rise in popularity.
It was much harder for fashion brands to get their name out in the days before Instagram. They relied on magazine advertisements, word of mouth and getting their pieces in department stores, amongst other things. Gifting clothes to celebrities was common practice, but brands would simply have to cross their fingers, and hoping a celebrity would wear their piece and then be photographed in it for a magazine.
Now with Instagram, gifting clothes to celebrities now has a much bigger impact on brands’ popularity. For some brands, all it takes to blow up is a big name wearing a piece of clothing from them and a picture of it going up on Instagram.
Take Orseund Iris, for example. Tops from the New York City-based brand were seen on Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski in 2017 in paparazzi pictures posted on fan accounts. Soon after, the brand became extremely popular and coveted.
In a 2018 article in Paper Magazine, Lana Johnson – the creator of Orseund Iris– explained how crucial social media is to fashion.
“[It is a] game-changer,” Johnson said in the Paper interview. “ I've had years to perfect, obsess, construct a social media presence with such a personal and distinct point of view. I think it is so important to understand what works and what doesn't work. Constructing a social identity that's completely your own. It's a quick snapshot, a glimpse of a world you’re creating from scratch. It's free, you'd be silly not to take advantage of it and be as thoughtful as possible when doing so.”
Another example of this is EB Denim, a brand that reconstructs vintage Levi 501 jeans. EB Denim was founded by Elena Bonvicini when she was in high school. She started upcycling vintage denim as a hobby and selling her creations to her classmates. Being a member of Generation Z, Bonvicini knew the power of Instagram when it comes to fashion marketing.
“My entire marketing method has been targeting celebs and Influencers. I started reaching out to girls on Instagram before the term influencer existed, just because intuitively I knew that if I saw one of my favorite accounts wearing something cool, I would probably want to get that piece,” Bonvicini explained.
Supermodel Gigi Hadid sported EB Denim twice during Paris Fashion Week in 2019, and the brand has only gone up from there.
“Having these people wear and expose my brand is the main driving force of our sales. One month, Kylie Jenner, James Charles and Hailey Bieber all wore my jeans, and we tripled our sales. People will always look to celebs or powerful people for inspiration; it dates back centuries.”
Gigi Caruso, another Gen Z fashion entrepreneur and founder of swimwear brand GIGI C Bikinis, feels the same way about Instagram’s power.
The 20-year-old CEO especially appreciates how Instagram gives her a direct line of communication with her customers.
“I can’t imagine how my brand GIGI C Bikinis would be what it is today without Instagram. It’s been such a great tool for us to find and build our customer and to keep her involved and in-the-know about GIGI C. Having the ability to directly talk to customers and get feedback is so important.”
Like Bonvicini, Caruso has seen a massive growth in sales from influencers and celebrities wearing her styles.
“Seeing how well our customers respond to fashion influencers in our swimwear and activewear has forced us to pivot and make that a cornerstone of our business. It helps us to broaden our audience, but it also gives the brand a certain credibility when it’s worn by big names like professional soccer player Alex Morgan, influencers Aimee Song and Rocky Barnes, and actresses Eva Longoria and Lucy Hale.”
It is evident that social media has had a huge impact on the public relations side of fashion. As Instagram continues to be a staple in the lives of so many worldwide, I am confident that many brands will follow the same path to prevalence as Orseund Iris, EB Denim, and GIGI C Bikinis.
By: Brett Chody