Is Instagram the new runway for fashion?
Veteran designers have caught up too, by posting sneak peeks of past collections to extend the life of their designs.
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By now most people in the fashion industry are familiar with the somewhat new (but very apt) adage - "If it's up on Instagram, it's legit". Fine, I made that one up, but only if you're living under a rock would you be fairly clueless about the force that the photo-sharing app has become on the style scene.
It's the hippest newsfeed in the digital space, with emojis and hashtags for every alternate word, and one of the best sources of up-to-date coverage for fashion events. Complete with sound and video recording in real time, and you can forget newspapers, magazines and even Google news - the action is taking place in a different space altogether. During the past month itself, the plethora of fashion weeks became just a click away from the ramp to the comfort of the room.
Laze around in your PJs if you will; the virtual runway could roll onto the palm of the hand with pictures of models, fabric and showstoppers in an instant. The revered FROW (front row) is becoming like the titular queen (God save them all), bestowed with pomp and dazzle but waning power. The century old format of fashion presentation is changing right before our eyes, as the runway no longer remains the high-altar of fashion, and the models are not the haloed celebrities they once were.
For instance, designer Masaba Gupta was well ahead of her time when she showcased her entire summer/resort 2015 collection titled "Sugar Plum" on Instagram in March this year.
Veteran designers have caught up too, by posting sneak peeks, pictures of past collections and other sartorial highs to extend the life of their designs as far as collective memory goes, thereby elevating their brand status. As for the actual fashion shows, it has become vital to capture a "favourite look" and post it online, often as an "I was there" statement (remember marking attendance in school?).
But it's not just about where you see the fashion; change is a-coming regarding on whom you see the fashion as well. Along-side 6ft tall models who flaunt perfect features, a new lot of ad-hoc models with not so perfect faces and figures (no, not as bad as the hunchback of Notre-Dame) has spawned on the side. Think bloggers, fashion influencers and stylists who're being wooed by designers to sport their garments while attending shows or industry events. Consequently, fashion shows have become much more than a 20-min-long presentation as these new brand ambassadors parade their ware amongst friends, on their social media feeds, and by getting lucky enough to be "spotted" by the blogger community. An actress may be the showstopper on the ramp, but it's the street-style stars that have become real-life showstoppers. It is these new "models" who carry on the show through the rest of the day.
An interesting case in point that may put things in perspective, is the story of a popular designer who was recently overheard saying, "It's ok if you missed my show. As long as you put the pictures up on Instagram, it's fine."
The winds of change have started blowing, and it's creating a new landscape on the fashion front. The future of the industry will probably be very different from the way we know it today, and the locus of power will shift in many ways. Will it break the hierarchical status of the-devil-wearing-Prada? Will there be new thought shapers, showstoppers and style definers on the field? My guess is a yes.
But I'll have to check my newsfeed first.