August 1, 2018
When Instagram launched in 2010, it was merely a photo and video-sharing networking app users utilised to share their daily routines and conundrums. Today, Instagram is one of the most popular social networking platforms worldwide and recently reported reaching 1 billion active users monthly.
Instagram’s emphasis on visual aesthetics has served to be a powerful and influential marketing channel for brands and influencers alike. This is especially true for online fashion labels that are capitalising on creating products based off their visual appeal on Instagram. Many young entrepreneurs who saw the potential of Instagram in the early stages have since developed their own direct-to-consumer fashion labels and brands with the focus of communicating and operating on social media.
However, it takes more than a visually appealing picture to succeed in this market. Many consumers value a distinct and charismatic personality and presence online to connect with. Those who understand the online channels, target consumers and language of the internet well will succeed in transforming engagement into sales.
Without going through the conventional route of starting a fashion business, the platform has allowed Instagram bred It girl brands to flourish globally. Traditionally, the luxury and designer industry held the power to influence trends by marketing their products in-house or to publishing companies. Now we’re seeing many Instagram It girl brands such as Reformation, Réalisation Par, Cult Gaia, LPA and many more thriving and succeeding on their own terms. By establishing themselves with an It girl persona, consumers view these brands as an inspiration to help them achieve a similar status or feeling. Besides that, their marketing strategies consisted of partnerships with It girls and influencers on social media, which then created a domino effect of consumers seeing the same product repeatedly on a different It girl or influencer — ultimately prompting them to impulse buy.
In an effort to uncover the influence of Instagram trends on mass consumers, we’ll analyse the top three Instagram It girl trends and how it compares to ASOS. We’ll discover how closely this trendy ultra-fast fashion UK brand follows popular styles on Instagram and how mass consumers are reacting to them.
Réalisation Par: Leopard Skirt
US-born label, Réalisation Par is famously known for their feminine and chic patterned dresses that have gained immense popularity among It girls and celebrities such as Emily Ratajkowski, Bella Hadid, Jenna Dewan and Kaia Gerber. Without following trends or the fashion calendar, Réalisation Par produces seasonless pieces that can be worn time after time. When the brand released The Naomi; a leopard-print slip skirt in Spring 2018, the Internet went head-over-heels over this item, leading it to be restocked twice with each occasion selling out within few hours of being posted online.
WhoWhatWear — a leading style resource platform — even called The Naomi the most viral clothing piece of the year, so it’s no secret that this skirt was a cult favourite on Instagram.
Image Source: Realisation Par
Image Source: Instagram
So how did ultra-fast fashion compare?
ASOS: Leopard Skirt
From Left: Amy Lynn Ditsy Leopard Print Wrap Midi Skirt, ASOS Design Leopard Print Wrap Midi Skirt, Daisy Street Midi Skirt With Split In Leopard, ASOS Design Midi Pleated Skirt in Natural Leopard Print
The images shown above were some of the best-selling leopard print skirts on ASOS with three out of four designs being very similar to Réalisation Par’s. The most popular item above was the Midi Pleated Skirt in Natural Leopard Print (second from left), as it was sold out in less than a month. This indicates how well-received the product was among their consumers. We expect this trend to carryover to Fall/ Winter so fashion brands and retailers should continue expanding their SKUs for leopard skirts.
LPA: Cropped Puff Sleeve Top
LPA was founded by Lara Pia Arrobio in 2016. Known as a cool girl label among consumers, LPA products are made for ladylike girls who exude a touch of tomboy personality. Thanks to their partnership with Revolve — a Los Angeles-based e-commerce clothing brand — they have been able to quickly expand their reach globally. However, it’s Arrobio’s ability to connect and understand her target personas so well that the label’s values deeply resonated with Millennials and Gen Z consumers. The Cropped Peasant Top With Puff Sleeves trend was extremely popular among French and LA based It girls. Consumers loved the femininity and versatility of this product as it can also be worn as an off-shoulder top.
Image Source: LPA
Image Source: Instagram
ASOS: Cropped Puff Sleeve Top
From Left: ASOS Design Denim Top In White With Button Detail, ASOS Design Denim Top With Sleeve Detail In Off White, ASOS Design Ponte Puff Sleeve Top With Corset Detail, Fashion Union Crop Top With Puff Sleeves In Broderie
Once again, ASOS rallied a winner. There were variations of puff sleeve designs carried by ASOS that loosely imitated LPA’s designs. The most popular product seen was the ASOS Design Ponte Puff Sleeve Top With Corset Detail (third from left) shown above, which was sold out between June 1 and July 16, 2018. The eyelet design, however, was not as prevalent as the puff sleeves since only one best-selling item sported had that. Besides that, the most popular sizes replenished were UK sizes six and eight, so fashion brands and retailers can take note of this to increase SKUs of those sizes in similar designs.
Orseund Iris: Tie Front Top/ Bandeau
The New York based label was founded by Alana Johnson, who started the brand by selling collection based clothes. She has since pivoted into creating seasonless clothing with a mission to offer eclectic and rare pieces. The Cha Cha Top is a tie front bandeau top that reigned throughout Instagram, donned by the most fashionable It girls. Many Instagram captions showcasing this top were references made to the warmer climate and how it was the perfect summer trend.
Image Source: Orseund Iris
Image Source: Instagram
From Left: QED London Floral Cropped Tea Blouse, River Island Tie Front Denim Crop Top, Glamorous Stripe Tie Front Crop Top, Urban Bliss Tie Front Long Sleeve Crop
ASOS also tried jumping on the heat of this trend. By comparing the best-selling tie front top/ bandeau assortments from ASOS, we can infer that consumers were not following this trend as closely as the other two trends. The tie front top from ASOS was mostly cropped designs instead of a bandeau. However, the most popular product above was the Glamorous Stripe Tie Front Crop Top (third from left), which is currently on a brink of selling out. As this product is extremely similar to the Cha Cha Top, we can only assume two things. Firstly, this may be due to some ASOS consumers being influenced by Orseund Iris, thought not the majority. On the other hand, it could also be due to a lack in stock of designs identical to the trend, thus consumers resorted to other options that were available. All things considered, we can only deduce the reasoning behind this trend with more time and data.
The Rise of a New Market
The fashion industry has changed drastically over the years, thanks to technological advancements. Fashion news and trends are now changing faster than ever with the use of social media. Rather than struggling to keep up with the rate of big fashion chains, many online brands have rebelled against the traditional route and carved out their own success through a different channel. They chose to produce seasonless pieces at their own timing and by doing so, have been able to create detailed and high quality garments.
As much as the designs have fuelled success for these It girl brands, the ability to navigate their social media language and identity has helped build their influential reputation. The analysis above has shown that Instagram trends are indeed dictators of fashion and have been translated into consumer preferences and even the racks of fast fashion. Brands and retailers can start observing and investing in this market by not only paying attention to the assortments they offer but their marketing strategies as well.