Fashion has found a lifelong friend: Its name is Instagram — the two linked and then quickly forged a strong connection since Instagram's debut in 2010. In their six-year friendship, Instagram has helped elevate the fashion industry in an educational sense for students by providing access to influencers.
The platform lends itself to fashion, such as "outfit of the day," photos, runway videos, photo shoots, fashion week collections, editorial campaigns and more. According to Brandwatch.com, as of 2016, 96 percent of fashion brands are on Instagram.
Instagram allows students interested in the fashion industry to follow influential people like models, designers and bloggers, providing them contacts and information for their career aspirations.
College students take to Instagram to connect with others. Many ASU clubs on campus use Instagram as a way to connect with members and to stay informed including ASU’s Business of Fashion club.
“Business of Fashion is the only fashion and business club on campus, so we’re here to prove that you don’t need to be a designer or model to be in the fashion industry,” Madison Morrow, BOF president and senior marketing student, said.
In its fourth year as a club and with 978 followers (and counting) on Instagram, BOF has helped bring together ASU students who are interested in the fashion industry. Morrow said they have gained members through Instagram by posting their meeting times and event information.
Before the fall 2016 semester began, Morrow said BOF ran an Instagram contest. The contest had BOF members or ASU students post their back-to-school outfit on Instagram by tagging #bofspotlight to be entered in a drawing to win a $25 Nordstrom gift card.
“It was a really exciting way to get people involved and also gain new members, we’ve gained a lot of followers from that contest, so it was something new for us and I think it worked really well," Morrow said.
In addition to being active on social media, BOF has events including their annual spring fashion show, internship workshops and teach their members how to effectively use social media as a professional networking and learning tool.
“The best way to get people interested in it (BOF) is to post things that are relevant to our members,” Morrow said.
Morrow said BOF relates to their members through social media by informing them about their meetings and by posting pop culture content involving fashion.
Morrow says she uses Instagram to follow people she looks up to in the fashion industry.
“It’s interactive, so I’m able to follow people that I really look up to in the fashion industry,” she said. “One woman I love is Katherine Power, she runs Clique Media Group,” (fashion website Who What Wear).
Fashion illustrators and bloggers have grown their brand and developed a large community of followers thanks to Instagram’s visual platform. Illustrators like Megan Hess and Holly Nichols and local fashion bloggers including Shelly Stuckman and Caitlin Lindquist have showcased their style on Instagram.
BOF Brand Director Leah Tsonis said she thinks Instagram can be a way for students interested in fashion to brand themselves.
"Places like Instagram are almost like the new portfolio in terms of someone who wants to work in fashion," she said.
Tsonis noted that someone's personal style and personality can be reflected on their Instagram account, and that consistent branding can help people get discovered and grow their network.
“I think all of the major fashion publications and brands realize the value of social media so they are very active on sites like Instagram,” Tsonis said.
Education can be an additional way for people to gain connections and exposure to the fashion industry. At many schools, such as Art Institutes, Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising and Parsons School of Design, students in fashion programs are able to have opportunities to showcase their education in projects or clothing collection at fashion week.
Lindsey Enyart, ASU Fashion Design professor, said she structures her class to focus on garment construction and the history and business aspects of the fashion industry for a well-rounded education.
“In my class, I’m trying to really touch on all aspects like marketing, design and also show the different avenues,” Enyart said. “We also talk about what careers you can go into and how many different areas you can focus on.”
Enyart says she has each student share an article they found about fashion. Outlets like Women’s Wear Daily, Bloomberg and Wall Street Journal provide insight into the aspects of news and business in the fashion industry.
People can learn about fashion through Business of Fashion’s Education Series, which features videos, articles and classes specializing in branding, merchandising and fashion history.
According to Fashion United statistics, the womenswear industry is valued at $621 billion menswear at $402 billion, retail value of the luxury goods market is $339.4 billion — elevated in part by Instagram as a growth and marketing tool.
“I think people tend to glamorize it (the fashion industry) a lot,” Enyart said. “It’s important for people to know the history of it because fashion is a social expression as well. It touches on what’s going on in society.”
Reach the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @StylshStrytellr on Twitter.