How Social Media is fueling new aesthetics

There’s a lot to be said about social media, and one thing for certain
is that it’s current cultural gold in terms of identifying trends. All
signs point to social media as a tool that progresses the
democratization of fashion, a shift that has been in motion, but was
catalyzed during the pandemic when nearly everything happened on our
screens. This time period was pivotal, in that it gave increased
access and visibility to events like fashion week shows, which at the
time were held with limited or no audience. Suddenly anyone around the
world had the same on-screen view as insiders, which garnered arguably
more interest from “outsiders,” as well as gave birth to quarantine
trends like cozy loungewear, zoom tops and nap dresses. Ultimately,
it’s those outsiders who had something valuable to say, adding to the
democratization of fashion through their voice on social media
channels. It’s imperative that we understand how the industry has
changed and how we should leverage social media to tap into current
cultural aesthetics.

Courtesy of @mellowmayo

Fashion Snoops is a global trend
forecasting agency helping leading consumer-facing brands around the
world unlock innovation and propel growth. This report on social media
was written by Melissa Moylan, Vice President of Womenswear at FS.
Learn more about
Fashion Snoops here.

Industry shifts

For decades, the industry operated as a predominantly top-down model
with catwalks and celebrities as a major indicator of the next big
trend. As trend forecasters, the cultural zeitgeist has always been a
guiding source of inspiration for our future forecasts, and now
influencers on social media are essential to track for both
identifying aesthetics and confirming trends. We are at the point in
which the business of trends is increasingly more bottom-up with the
rise of influencers on social media, although both trickle down and up
theories are proving to be valid simultaneously. Both approaches play
off of one another, as catwalk front rows are expanded to include more
influencers (to get better photos for social), and even the
notoriously exclusive MET gala has opened their doors to TikTockers
Emma Chamberlain and Addison Rae. Social media has also given birth to
new fashion critics that blur the lines between influencer and
journalist with a focus on educating primarily Gen Z followers.

Courtesy of @greivy

From an industry standpoint, it’s crucial that we pay attention to
social media cues no matter what role or market you’re in. There have
been several consumer shifts as well as business opportunities that
have surfaced and grown on social media such as the vintage and resale
market and new players in fast fashion.

The secondhand market has been propelled by influencers posting hauls
on TikTok and Instagram. The rising interest in vintage and resale is
very much a result of thrifting as a lifestyle and the hunt of finding
something cool and novelty. Etsy-owned Depop, which has a 90% Gen Z
user rate, is popular for being part marketplace and part social media
where users could connect with one another.

Courtesy of @veroocampos

Fast fashion – and specifically newcomers in the space – is leveraging
social media to stay ahead of the curve and remain relevant with Gen Z
consumers. Shein implements AI modeling on social media channels to
determine what products they will produce, and employs on-demand
manufacturing, allowing them to cut styles based on how they perform.
Similarly, Edikted’s business is built around curated social media
trends and encourages pre-orders to determine production quantity.

It’s clear that social media has become not only a community, but a
space where both creatives and consumers discover new products. The
social component has certainly challenged traditional relationships
between brands and retailers with consumers, which is why we’ll
continue to see innovation grow in this space. At FS, we know how to
effectively leverage social media to track need-to-know brands and
influencers. Our AI-tracking tools allow us to filter posts by market
and product, and help us to confirm and identify trends that are
featured within our insight and forecasting reports across all
markets. It’s a necessary game-changer that turns us on to new, buzzy
aesthetics and micro trends, which feed into our macro forecasts and
offers great styling potential direct from influencers.

Trending on social

What makes social content so valuable today is the nature of it being
real time informational entertainment. The secret sauce that Gen Z
adds makes it incredibly relatable and authentic, particularly in the
case of TikTok. The speed at which trends seemingly occur is faster
because social media is instant, as compared to say, printed monthly
publications. However one must also consider that many trends bubbling
up on socials are micro trends that relate to macro movements that
extend well beyond several months – shifts that were probably well
underway before a certain catch phrase came along.

Many of us probably remember the butt-scrunch leggings of 2020 which
were the first of many social-media fueled items to come, like Skims’
long slip dress in 2021. But more buzzy than items are the aesthetics
coined with clever hashtags by Gen Z such as #cottagecore,
#darkacademia and most recently #barbiecore and #coastalgrandmother.
The latter has currently garnered over 176M views since it originated on
TikTok by Lex Nicoleta in March of this year. What’s interesting about
this summer aesthetic is that it’s not particularly new; think Diane
Keaton in Something’s Gotta Give with a beachy wardrobe of timeless
linen separates and sweaters tied around the neck. It’s not exactly
cutting edge and surprisingly more of a sustainable trend comprised of
layered wardrobe essentials. What gave this aesthetic new life is
quite frankly is the hashtag, and TikTok’s nature of reposting so that
the aesthetic spread and caught on fast. And while #coastalgrandmother
may not have been on a mood board before March of this year, retailers
and brands could still capitalize on it this summer by simply using
the hashtag on posts with applicable looks.

Courtesy of @loisopoku

It’s clear that social media has changed the way we perceive fashion.
Influencer culture has evolved to so much more than just personal
style, with newcomers in the space adding value, cultivating
aesthetics and engaging with new communities of people. No matter what
social media platform, as an industry I think we could all agree that
it’s invaluable to tap into current cultural aesthetics and have more
people promoting your brand or store. After all, visibility is
something we’re all after, and social media delivers exactly that.


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