Social media already stole the show and the week isn’t even over. Of course, it’s nothing new per se and a technology that’s been around for a number of years now, but never before have we seen such a prevalent and impactful influence. From brands scouting Instagram for design inspiration to creating shows that are chiefly imagined on the premise that they will be “shared,” NYFW is being revolutionized by the rise of social platforms.
Altuzarra Ready to Wear Fall Winter 2017 New York Fashion Show
“I think things are changing so quickly in fashion, including formats and for instance what's being done on the West Coast,” says Pamella Roland backstage after her show. “I feel most of it has happened because of social media. It completely changed everything.”
Even a change in communication channels is present. Show notes have primarily been used during fashion week to give insiders – namely buyers and press – a glance behind the designers’ inspiration and information on each model’s look, including color, fabric, and silhouette details. This season, however, Altuzarra kept his vision fairly mysterious, except for the small nod to Macbeth. It was on Instagram that the designer felt the need to give more context, sharing a short video description on the background of the collection. Spun otherwise, those who didn’t use Instagram or didn’t follow the designer had no insight about the show.
“I started looking at a lot of portrait painting, especially northern European renaissance painting,” says Altuzarra on the Instagram post. “It was an interesting time in painting when artists started moving away from a stylized depiction of the human form and the human face and started rendering subjects as they looked, with their flaws and all of their imperfections. It started a really interesting dialogue for me and the collection and identity. It allowed me to have a conversation about the past versions of the present and create a tension in the collection and in the look.”
During the Baja East presentation party, the designers opted for a more light-hearted approach to incorporating social media elements into their show. Featured on their drink menu, John Targon and Scott Studenberg named their respective favorite vodka cocktails after their own Instagram handles: @JohnLovesPineCones and @ScottLovesPalmTrees. Subtle and not necessarily innovative when it comes to using handles or naming evening drinks, but an insight as to how playfully brands can utilize social media tools. The take away: it doesn’t always have to be overly complicated or strategized.
For Naeem Khan, social media is an important research tool for discovering unearthed inspiration. "You know, for me, architecture is important," said the designer backstage prior to his show. "I follow certain decorators or fashion designers to see what’s happening in Japan or in China but these are designers that are not known." Browsing Instagram is a new way for designers to source ideas for collections, and it's only just the beginning.
Backstage at the Baja East Ready to Wear Fall Winter 2017 New York Fashion Show
J. Crew recently took to Instagram Stories for crowdsourcing design decisions on what color they should make their next parka. During the show on Saturday, the idea of crowdsourcing continued, this time with the casting. Tapping "real" people to star in the presentation, the retailer’s choice in casting became a focal point endlessly shared on Instagram – with an emphasis more on the models than the clothes themselves.
Another consideration designers keep in mind is how their final product will look once it’s on a mobile device. “I do imagine what it will look like as a picture because it’s more and more relevant,” said Lacoste’s creative director Felipe Oliveira Baptista after his show. “Unfortunately, sometimes we’re judged by what people see in a small screen; sometimes you have to think of the iPhone effect.”
The design duo behind Tome looked at social media in a different light. For them, it’s a means to be seen and be heard. Instagram, particularly, is their communication channel of choice – connecting with consumers but also letting followers in on what’s important to them. “I think it's a great tool, especially when people are trying to be suppressed,” said Ryan Lobo, one half of Tome. “They can't shut us up, and they can't shut us down. We believe in Democracy and we believe in Fashion. It's a great thing that people have another way to express themselves. It's good that everyone can have a voice, and you get to choose who you want to want to listen to.”
Rio Uribe of Gypsy Sport attributes some of his success to social media as a whole: “Instagram and other forms of social media are incredibly valuable, and I don’t think my brand would have grown as quickly as it did without it,” said the designer backstage. “But there are other brands with bigger teams, more means, and more money who will continue to copy us. Eventually tables will turn though; for now, it is what it is.”
Despite being a small team, Uribe prioritizes authenticity over it all, not getting too caught up in the sometimes superficial world of Instagram. “We have this way of doing things in the studio and we often talk about how we don’t want to be fake on social media, or express something that is not really happening,” he said. “People can be so superficial on there so we try to keep it true – we want reality to be our Instagram stories. We try to make sure everything in life is as fun as everything we post.”