NYFW Amplified: How Live Social is Changing the Game and the Conversation

When the first model hit the runway during September’s New York Fashion Week, it wasn’t just a select group of socialites, celebrities and fashion gurus watching. In fact, in the case of many NYFW and other runway shows, the events have become truly globalized experiences. While perhaps the invite list has become a bit less exclusive, and shows have been happening in more accessible venues like Lincoln Center and even a Manhattan pier, the real difference maker here is social media.

Social media, and more specifically Live social (Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, Periscope and Snapchat Stories) has turned events like Fashion Week into worldwide, in-the-moment experiences for many more people than just those in physical attendance. With the substantial rise of fashion bloggers and influencers, behind-the-scenes access is being shared with the masses by way of their social feeds. So now, you can be just as much a part of Tom Ford’s show as anyone sitting along the runway. No longer do you have consumers and everyday fashionistas patiently awaiting the photos or new stories the next day. Those days are no more! Instead, you can log into Snapchat and watch your favorite fashion blogger’s #NYFW Story, or scroll through her Instagram feed to get a glimpse at un-staged, real-time content. And the beauty of it all, is that consumers don’t care that the Kate Spade model’s makeup is only half-done behind the curtains; in fact, those are the kinds of moments they crave.

Even the fashion cycle is shifting

All of this, in turn, is flipping runway selling and merchandizing on its head entirely. With instant access to a designer’s runway collection through a live social media experience, consumers are starting to wonder why on earth they’d have to wait the typical 6 months to buy the product. If you asked a top couture designer even three or four years ago if they saw a “see now, buy now” strategy in their future, chances are the answer wouldn’t be, “yes”. But it’s yet another massive shift that social media is causing; and despite running into a potential logistical nightmare, designers like Burberry and Tommy Hilfiger think the risk is well worth it, because in the end, it’s all about catering to their on-demand, social savvy audiences.

Important conversations are emerging

Not only has social changed the game for experiencing NYFW, but even more importantly, it’s amplified new voices and new conversations about bigger societal issues. The subject of Diversity has found its way into this season’s Fashion Week like never before; and while some of that has to do with more standardized efforts by groups like the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), it has much to do with the fact that more voices are being empowered through social media. Of course, the fashion industry still has tremendous strides to make when it comes to diversifying both its messages and the models that walk the runways, but there has been much more emphasis on changing old conventions.

Diversity, as a larger issue of society, has been at a relative high over the last year. And so, it’s no surprise that the fashion world, like many other industries, are taking notice and taking action. But couture fashion, in particular, has been notoriously slow at evolving its look – whether it be in the staged, highly calculated, “perfect” photography or the, almost, virtually identical models. However, with Live social media playing such a critical role this NYFW, the industry just can’t ignore the broader community’s pleas to consider other definitions of beautiful. Phrases and hashtags like #RunwayForAll have emerged in the hundreds of thousands over just this past week. A young female acid attack victim proudly walked the runway for two of India’s most prominent designers. Race and size have also made giant waves, as consumers call for “real” beauty. Standards are beginning to change, and it’s creating much more positivity towards an industry that many have resented in the past.

We’re thrilled to see brands gaining marketing momentum and creating more authentic, valuable relationships with their audiences. As more luxury and couture fashion brands continue to break boundaries to fully embrace these kinds of social media strategies, it’s likely that they’ll be able to tap into the moments that really matter. And that’s a win for all.

Read more about how social media has impacted the diversity conversation at NYFW in Glossy. 

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