Instagram the new portfolio in the fashion industry

Instagram feeds are being seen as valid portfolios to showcase talent, leading everyday people to respectable jobs in the fashion industry. In this new age of social media, experience in the field is not at the priority for employers searching for models, designers or photographers for their brands.

Naypreet Bhandal, a model for an online swimwear company,  got her start by posting her best outfit pictures on her Instagram account often, which began to gain her attention. Bhandal is not the first to have an experience like this. The online platforms have an abundance of users who are more likely to look to these sites to find inspiration for their styles, rather than what models are wearing on the runway.

“What I see on Instagram/YouTube is the most influential,” Bhandal said of her search for inspiration. “There’s such a diverse community online” that looking elsewhere would serve no point. Runway fashion is seen as an extreme form of fashion, not showing the practical pieces most people would instinctively reach for.

Most youth and young adults find inspiration for clothing not only from fashion specific accounts on social media, but groups of people who reflect themselves. Bhandal looks to “the happenings of the dance community in Vancouver” due to their unique sense of style.

There is also a need for people who use social media platforms to post images of themselves, and not just on one site,  but many. Bhandal posts her pictures on “Snapchat, Instagram or even VSCO, since social media is the only centralized area to share something in a mass way.”

Madison Knox, a practicing design student, said social media affects her clothing designs.

“I find celebrity fashion boring and instead choose to take inspiration from ordinary people that I see both on Instagram and people in my everyday encounters,” she said. Knox does not find modern fashion “as exciting as it was before,” taking inspiration for her personal style from ’60s and ’70s fashion trends. She finds there is importance in large and small brands embracing online platforms, not only as a way to showcase their work, but also show “that they care about the consumers and want to interact with them.” Knox finds that brands, and the people wanting to work with brands, such as models and photographers, “should learn that social media is the new way to gain fame in their craft.”

Traditional training is often not a concern for some representatives of brands. This is evident with Brooklyn Beckham, who became the photographer for a Burberry fragrance campaign at the age of 16. The son of celebrity parents David and Victoria Beckham had no experience prior to this opportunity, but what he lacked in experience he made up with his more than six million Instagram followers. It could have been seen as famous parents buying their child opportunities, but Burberry representatives said that Beckham’s large online following was what sold them on choosing him as the photographer.

Knox thinks the new job was unfair, because it was only due to his large social media following. But she saw this move as a strategic one on Burberry’s part: Because of Beckham’s young fan base, a new audience could be targeted, expanding sales for the brand.

Social media presence can not only create job opportunities for aspiring talent, but is often a requirement for those who already have careers in the fashion industry. The most famous runway models are expected to have an online image to appeal to the online consumers. Models today have a celebrity image, creating an interest of their personal lives among social media users. Most people want to know the person wearing their favourite clothing items, and therefore supermodels post regularly on their Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter accounts to create that relationship. Social media users know models such as Kendall Jenner and Cara Delevingne beyond what brands they model. They have knowledge of their personalities and interests that goes beyond fashion.

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