From Instagram Modelling To Snap Chatting At Fashion Week

Avid use of social media and access to a high res camera and video is the new norm. Professional photographers, modelling agents and talent scouts may become obsolete. Snap chat at Fashion Week and Instagram modelling is taking over. In the world of fashion photography the amateur is booked and their photos published. But only for a limited time.

Instagram Model
Luna Sobrino was discovered on her instagram account by IMG

IMG is a modelling agency who represent clients such as Kate Moss and Karlie Kloss. They ran a campaign called ‘We Love Your Genes’. The campaign appealed to unknowns to post a series of images on Instagram using the tag #WLYG. They received over 14,000 submissions from young model hopefuls. Usually newcomers have to spend a lot of money on photo portfolios. However, agencies are soon realising a portfolio from Instagram is just as good. Talent scouts normally spot new talent in trendy city areas or overseas to gain a multicultural look to the agency’s books. Trawling through Instagram pages, an agent can see how a potential model dresses up on a night out, or in a casual selfie.

Noah Shelley, a casting director at Dazed and Confused says “It’s very hard to discover raw talent on the street anymore. I find that my time is better used if I actually spend four or five hours on… Instagram than spending four or five hours walking around in the snow.” 

Instagram Modelling
Gabrielle Epstein, unknown to Instagram model

Many unknowns have created a large following on Instagram. This can provide a significant income. With a large number of followers come advertisers keen to align themselves with various popular accounts. Terms such as “instagirls”, “Instagram models” and “instafame” have been coined to describe a new industry. These are men and women who stage their images and posts often of an unattainable lifestyle on Instagram. Brands from Chanel and Balenciaga to obscure websites pay from US$2,000 to US$15,000 for a single post. Gabrielle Epstein, 21, has almost 700,000 followers on Instagram. Advertisers pay her direct. This means she cuts out the middle men who would take various cuts in regular model work. She said she earns more money from posting a selfie than from working four days as a regular model.

“I definitely (earn more money from Instagram), 100 per cent.” She told the Gold Coast Bulletin. 

Instagram Modelling
Essena O’Neil who rebelled against Instagram Modelling culture

However there is a darker side to being an “Instagram model”. Having thousands of followers on Instagram means these fans can soon turn hostile. In the case of Essena O’Neil who quit her Instagram modelling career. She found her notoriety precluded her from everyday employment opportunities. Her days as an “Instagram model” involved creating the illusion that she was living a luxurious life. By wearing designer brands and living an expensive life she created a facade. The photographic evidence of this was funded by the followers admiring the illusion with their clicks on these pages, leading to sponsors and advertisers. O’Neill was responsible for her clothing, her photography, scheduling her shoots, her make up and her hair. Her images were not representative of her reality. Before she quit, she made a comment under a photo of her meditating.

“There is nothing zen about trying to look zen, taking a photo of you trying to be zen and proving your zen on Instagram.”

Now a google search only displays results of her lack of authenticity form the followers who were once her fans.

Instagram Modelling
Kendall Jenner and the image that incited 3.5 million followers

Kendall Jenner has the record for the most liked photograph on Instagram. Her selfie depicts herself lying on a carpeted floor. In the image, her hair is sprawled out in all directions and fashioned into multiple heart shapes. She got 3.5 million likes for this image. Followers can gain insight into her every day life. A look at behind the scenes through videos and photos. She was chosen as the face of Estee Lauder predominantly for her social media influence. Jenner is at the top of the game. However, when the stakes are this high the images become less natural.  It is usual practice for art directors to be behind the candid shots and selfies we see online. What followers are viewing becomes hyper-real.

SnapChat is a social media tool where pictures and videos must be taken and shared straight away. The posts are known as ‘snaps’ and disappear after a day. The images are often blurry and must be shared vertically. Photos on SnapChat become less about quality and more about the immediacy of connectivity. Users can write on the images using the paint tool or add emojis or cartoon-like graphics to the ‘snaps’. Snap Chat was designed to give privacy to sexting teenagers. This social media tool is perfect for fashion week because its immediacy gives fashion week exclusivity. It is also ideal because of it’s target fashion conscious demographic of 18-24 year olds.

Initially Fashion Week was plagued by bloggers breaking the news online first. Then came Instagram, where PR people could keep track of their posts and comments. They could also build on a collection of images from the shows. SnapChat is the most popular current social media tool of the moment at Fashion Week.

Instagram Modelling
A post on SnapChat by Valentino under the name MaisonValentino

Luxury fashion brands such as Valentino, Stella McCartney and Michael Kors used SnapChat to show their runway shows at Fashion Week. Everlane, is the snapchat fashion account to watch. They have frequent updates and a recurring feature called ‘Transparency Tuesdays’. This is where the social media leads answer users’ questions. They provide an insiders look into sales, meetings and popup shop construction. They also show previews of upcoming products as well as response to private messages. Valentino used snapchat to document preparation of its show. They took the camera backstage with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson.

“We wanted to capitalize on the zeitgeist that is Snapchat” Valentino said.

Jessica Kia, co-founder of digital marketing consultancy RJK says that she may recommend Snapchat to her clients. However, she would rather wait for figures to prove marketing through SnapChat leads directly to more customers and more money.

“But we have no data yet. We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on Facebook fan acquisition campaigns back in the day, but we should have burned that money instead, because now that we can measure the crossover between all the money we spent acquiring followers, and the number of those followers that actually shop, we know it’s not impressive”  Says Jessica Kia.

Instagram Modelling
Examples of SnapChat Snaps at Fashion Week

A live story on snapchat is where users send their own photos and videos to a team at snapchat. They in turn curate the best media to compile a large Snapchat Live story. Users needed to be at a Fashion Week sanctioned event to be included in the live story. The live story called “Fashion Week in NYC” has many advantages over Instagram. It is concise, and it is not repetitive Also there is no self promotion and only the best pictures and videos are included. Snap Chat also introduced “My Story”.

Social media sites such as Instagram, has allowed anyone with enough social media savy and public appeal to create an account with thousands of followers. This in turn can lead to advertisers and sponsors willing to pay thousands of dollars. Fashion week and the way the media monitors it is quickly evolving. SnapChat is the latest social media tool to be embraced by the industry, however, these social media tools are a double-edged sword. There is no hard data evidence that snap chatting Fashion Week leads to more customers. Although SnapChat is giving the public more and more insight into the inner world of fashion week. Notoriety on the internet cannot be undone and reputations cannot be refreshed.