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Online Presence: Does The High Fashion Brands Need It As Much As Everyone?

'When it comes to the biggest fashion houses we know, can it be that social media has the same impact in their sales and popularity?'

Photographer/Retoucher: @okta_puss⁠ Wardrobe Stylist: @calistasarah⁠ Fashion Designer/Creative Director: @bam.bam.billa⁠ Model: @darker_abuk⁠ Accessory Designer: @naula_studio⁠ Hair Stylist: @braids_and_trends⁠ Via @officialkavyar

Before we really get started on the main topic, let me ask you something: how often do you take a look at a brand’s social media before deciding to buy their products? The answer may varies depending on your generation, but it certainly is an increasingly common – and if you’re a millenial or GenZ then it’s just part of the process, right? At the times we’re living now, a lot of new brands are even discovered through social media, so there’s no way we can deny how social networks have become one of the biggest channels for fashion brands. To have a good online presence is a way to guarantee some increase in brand awareness and engagement, therefore directly affecting sales. But when it comes to the biggest fashion houses we know, can it be that social media has the same impact in their sales and popularity?

In the fashion and retail industry, knowing how to strengthen social networks is actually a lot more complex than it might seem from the outside, given the fact that we’re talking about a very competitive industry, so it can be difficult to stand out. For many brands, what frequently happens is that the desired results aren’t achieved – despite a lot of effort, the target audience is not reached or there’s low engagement. I mean, if you want to build a successful, efficient social media presence, you need killer social media marketing strategies, there’s no doubt about it, and every strategy depends on the brand and its target audience. Maybe the best thing for one is to showcase new season products online and what works for another is to live broadcast the fashion weeks, or anything else the team behind it can think of. The real point is that – almost – all fashion brands need an appropriate social media approach to gain attention in the never-ending medium of social platforms. But have you seem how I used ‘almost’? Do you really think names like Prada and Balenciaga need to be as worried with their social media presence as the local brands in your hometown? I’m pretty sure your answer is ‘no’. Let’s dive in the reasons why this is true.

Wardrobe Stylist: @debbidepiano⁠ Model: @4upper⁠ Makeup Artist: @sabrinacatalano.mua⁠ Photographer: @taris_p⁠ Via @officialkavyar

In the last decade – but specially in the last two years – online shopping has almost fully replaced the traditional methods of shopping and we don’t spend as much time in malls and stores as we used to, a situation that has made us all much lazier. You and I both know how unbelievably easy it is to do all the shopping at the same time as we are always aware of the fashion trends – that’s all thanks to social media - and that’s the reason why so many brands closed their physical stores and the newest ones are not even trying to open one – but did you see the big names having a real problem with it? I don’t think so. I’m putting a lot of new questions and thoughts in your head now but I promise I’ll answer them all, just stay with me.

Knowing when and how to be in the right place at the right time is quite challenging when a new brand is added to the limitless channels every day and all the algorithms are often changing, and there’s exactly where social presence makes a difference: every one wants to stand out from the crowd. It is of great importance for all brands to make its voice heard, reach their wantged public and convert all this into sales increase, and that’s why choosing which social channel to use is still crucial – but it is no longer the most crucial thing, actually, is not even enough nowadays, now it’s all about how-we're-going-to-do-it. It would be unreasonable to expect a clothing brand not to have a visual presence in the online world, it is even unthinkable. But is it? Not always. Let’s get into it: the big fashion houses don’t really need to be present online in order to be relevant. As messed up as it sounds, they really are above it. Do you need to see Prada and Gucci posts every day to want their designs? Exactly. It’s a whole different thing when we’re talking about houses with so much name, so much history – and that’s why Bottega Veneta can afford to be off of Instagram.

Photographer/Retoucher: @okta_puss⁠ Wardrobe Stylist: @calistasarah⁠ Fashion Designer/Creative Director: @bam.bam.billa⁠ Model: @darker_abuk⁠ Accessory Designer: @naula_studio⁠ Hair Stylist: @braids_and_trends⁠ Via @officialkavyar

And that’s not the only example we have of a big fashion name logging out of a social channel. Recentlt, Balenciaga, a house known for its controversial products and campaings launched on social media, has deactivated its Twitter account, losing over one million followers. I mean, of course it doesn’t hurt to have people all over the world tweeting and posting about the brand, but do they really need it to sell? The answer is h very clear no. The French luxury house didn’t even explain its exit from the troubled social media channel, but it’s speculated to have something to do with the website new owner – you know what I’m talking about by now – and it’s ideas for the channel. In that case, their statement is being made by getting out of the site and showing the new owner, along with everybody else, that they’re bigger than that. And that is something, specially as we’re talking Balenciaga, one of the not many brands that managed to be very successful in the platform – Twitter is less popular for fashion brands than the visual driven channel that are mainly made to post photos and videos, such as Instagram and TikTok. But the Paris-based house made it work and now they’re out. Do you see how much of na impact has been made?

Another thing to keep in mind: Balenciaga also often deletes its history on Instagram. One of the most used social media platforms in all the internet, them having millions of people accessing their profile every day, and they often delete it. For names that big, not having a social presence is the differential, and they can afford to do while they know it won’t have any relevant impact on their sales – they’re so deep into the collective imaginary that to exist, with all its history, is enough.

Cr Dir: @wd_muci⁠ MUA: @changedchainz⁠ Photo: @ffflli⁠ Assistant: @yizyyyyy⁠ Prod: @kezi_studio⁠ Model: @zhaowennan_⁠ Fashion: @skylarbalabadula⁠ Via @officialkavyar

And Balenciaga might have been one of the first brands to delete its social history on Instagram, but they’re not the only one doing it now. This little refreshment and change of the profile pages has been adopted as a strategy by many brands, usually hapenning in specific situations, like when new creative directors are taking over or when celebrities are keen to delete their online interactions, a thing that can happen for different reasons now that cancel culture is a thing – but this is a different topic of discussion.

On the marketing page of Twitter, it’s written that the platform is at the centre of the fashion conversation, as it allows reactions and commentary in real time during show season – and if you use it regularly, or even just during your favourite events, you would know this is true – a place where you can launch and experince a whole new wave of energy to fashion brands’ big moments. But still, many brands prefer to focus on connecting on other channels, posting considerably less on Twitter – so we just know it wasn’t very pleasant for the site when Balenciaga left. If it will inspire some kind of exodus amongst other luxury houses remains to be seen, but we shouldn’t be surprised if it happens – after all, they don’t really need to be there.

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