Alexander Wang Instagram


New York Fashion Week is in the throes of the social season — whether it’s fall to buy now or spring to buy later.

Alexander Wang sent his Instagram followers on a cryptic treasure hunt with a backward phone number and hints of a collaboration in a robotic message, Kanye West put out his last-minute clarion call for models on Twitter (for a show that was ultimately panned) and the major social media platforms are betting video will become all the rage.

This story first appeared in the September 10, 2016 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The urgency of the medium is its own message — a powerful one that has the digital form reverberating in the real world.

Social media is inherently changing the format of New York Fashion Week: photos and videos of NYFW events are being shared on social in real-time and customers don’t want to wait six months to purchase,” said Juliet Carnoy, senior marketing manager at marketing platform Pixlee.

Cue the “buy-now” movement, which sees brands from Club Monaco to Tom Ford showing in-season options that can be bought right away.

But that’s just one element. Social media has become essential to the fashion-marketing machine.

“Expect to see brand Snapchat and Instagram Stories takeovers by key influencers, Instapits similar to those at the Tommy Hilfiger show last year, and more,” Carnoy said. “Some luxury brands are forgoing NYFW altogether.” (In February, Misha Nonoo presented her entire collection on Instagram; this season, she presented an edit of her fall 2016 collection with a “live look book” on Refinery29’s Snapchat account).

Fittingly, the hot platform and method of sharing shifts with each season.

This time, the most visible update comes in the form of Instagram Stories. Introduced just a month ago, the feature lets users share candid, immediate images and videos within a 24-hour time frame. It seems tailor-made for an event like fashion week and solves a number of problems for Instagram’s loyal fashion flock: It alleviates the pressure to only post perfectly poised, non-blurry images and cuts down on “over-posting” fatigue during live events.

“Instagram Stories is going to be put to the test, and they’re coming in on Snapchat’s territory,” said Jon Bucci, who is chief executive officer of a new app called Veri that connects social media stars with fans. “And Instagram has inherently been friendlier to brands than Snapchat.”

So far, those using Instagram Stories tend to be those attending and reporting on the shows; Macy’s, for example, used the pen feature to highlight trends at Kate Spade (tassels!), while makeup brands and editors showed behind-the-scenes action shots and still lifes. Designers largely eschewed tending to Live Stories; old habits die hard — especially when there’s an analogue collection to prepare.

And just in time for the new iPhone 7 camera, Instagram last month added the ability to zoom in on photos.

Across platforms, videos have seen a number of updates that encourage users to share and watch more videos. Instagram expanded video shares to 60 seconds, and Twitter said it would broaden its revenue sharing and advertising options for all users, essentially encouraging creators to share more high-quality videos.

Tommy Hilfiger, Thakoon and Opening Ceremony all are using Twitter-owned Periscope to broadcast their shows, while Twitter deployed digital stars Connor Franta and Amanda Steele as part of its #FashionFlock to attend the shows, be styled by designers — and share their experience on Twitter, naturally.

Twitter is not immune to the Snapchat effect. It has added the ability for “stickers,” or little pictures, to be added to photo shares and searched, just like hashtags. Marie Claire’s Nina Garcia, for example, added the popular double-hearts sticker to her coverage of Tom Ford’s show.

Twitter and West continued their fervent relationship: The first fashion week Twitter “Moment,” a feature that adds tweets from an event directly to one’s home time line, came from “The best of Yeezy Season 4.”

And the impact of Snapchat’s growing influence is still playing out. As it did for the last couture season, the platform is dedicating a Live Story to fashion week with a particular focus on what it’s like to be at the shows as a designer, stylist or makeup artist, and in New York, using an expanded geofilter. The Snapchat Live Story will focus on sharing content from specific shows, using official marks and logos from IMG, and will be spliced with advertiser content.

This is the first fall fashion week in which lenses are available to marketers. Lenses, like a bespoke filter, have been previously bought by brands such as Urban Decay and Tiffany.

Sweet, the 10-month-old Snapchat Discover channel created in partnership with Hearst, is offering themed content and partnerships throughout the week, including a Bobbi Brown Snapchat takeover, backstage coverage at the Jenny Packham and Tibi shows, and animated gifs and wallpaper designed by GucciGhost for Gucci.

Despite updates from Facebook and Twitter, the on-the-ground battle seems to be one between Snapchat and Instagram.

“It will be exciting to see where brands choose to feature their behind-the-scenes, exclusive content, and that should also serve as a good indication of where luxury fashion brands see the future of their social content,” said L2 research associate Elizabeth Elder.

“It will be particularly interesting to see if brands are adopting Instagram and Snapchat accounts solely to garner press for NYFW, or if they will maintain the accounts into the future and use them as brand-building tools,” Elder said, adding that she didn’t expect Twitter to be as popular among brands because “it is no longer a platform their core customers use.”

As in fashion, fortunes rise and fall quickly in social media.

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