Selfie as a marketing tool in the fashion industry
With the advent of social media selfie has become an integral part of lives of many users. Creation of self-portraits seems to be nothing more but entertainment. The mystery of great popularity of selfie lays primarily in the simplicity of creating a self-portrait photograph. One can use a phone or a compact camera to make a self-portrait. Also, people like to have total control over the photographing process. The subject of a picture is at the same time a photographer. This ensures that a photograph satisfies the envisions of a photographed person.
More than a million selfies are created worldwide everyday. The question is whether all these pictures are so vivid and original? Perhaps, the essence of selfie is not in the artistic side of a photograph, but rather in its ability to display a particular episode of someone’s life. This is a new way of documenting everyday life. Selfie is just a non-verbal message that shows your mood and what you are doing at some particular moment.
Selfie is a new way of documenting everyday life
Actually, self-portraits existed a long time ago. Among the famous artists, special “selfie men” were Rembrandt (1606-1669), who created around ninety self-portraits, and Van Gogh (1853-1890), who produced more than twenty paintings showing his portrait. Self-portraits became extremely popular with the invention of a photo camera in the early twentieth century. But the term “selfie” appeared only in 2002, during the Australian online forum ABC Online. At the beginning, it was just one more passion of youth. But in 2012 the magazine “Time”, announced selfie to be among the top 10 best ideas of the year. After this event selfie started to be considered seriously. In 2013, selfie was included in the Oxford English Dictionary, and was called “The Word of the Year.”
Selfie has become so popular that it seems to flood the whole Internet. However, it is not so. According to statistics, self-portraits make up only 3-5% of the total number of Instagram pictures, while most of the pictures display other people, animals, landscapes, and food.
To find out who is the most subservient to the modern mainstream of selfie, a group of American researchers analyzed 650 thousand Instagram photos made in several megalopolises of the world during eight days. This analysis was performed as a part of the project “Selfiecity” in 2013. It turned out that the average age of the authors of selfies is 24 years old. As expected, women post selfie pictures almost 2 times more often than men. Of course, this estimate is approximate and some degree of inaccuracy may exist, essentially due to fake personal information of some profiles on Instagram. Nevertheless, the information is interesting.
The analysis of the number of likes on Instagram revealed that the most popular selfies are self-portraits of celebrities. And this is not surprising. We are so accustomed to their perfectly retouched images on glossy paper that we have many complaints about our own appearance. Since celebrities started to demonstrate their photos in a relatively natural state (without a make-up, untouched or edited only with a filter and in everyday surroundings), their shots began to form a realistic picture of human beauty. In some way, selfie, as part of the visual component of social media, vanishes the borderline between reality and fantasy in the concept of appearance. For example, Kim Kardashian, a socialite diva famous for her numerous selfie with the demonstration of her spectacular body forms, decided to take advantage of her passion for photographs and create a book which includes 352 pages presenting exclusively her selfies. The book is called “Kim Kardashian Selfish”. It illustrates the natural appearance of the model in her everyday life.
In fashion industry, selfie is not just a photo, it is an effective marketing tool
Fashion is one of a few industries that were influenced by selfie the most. Indeed, in the fashion industry, selfie is not just a photo, it is an effective marketing tool that, from the retailers’ point of view, encourages people to discuss products and thus advertise them. Electronic commerce is steadily being transformed into a system where hashtag #selfie has a central role in the distribution of consumer demand. Designers, models, bloggers take their benefit from selfie by applying the marketing strategies involving selfies. Here are some famous examples.
Brand Marc by Marc Jacobs sought models for future campaigns on Instagram and Twitter in April 2014. Girls who dreamed of becoming a model were proposed to post their photo in Instagram with hashtag #CastMeMarc. As a result, 70 million candidates posted their pictures and nine were selected to be the models. Apart from the fact that this approach has increased the loyalty of the brand and provided additional advertising, it really helped to find a new face within a short time, because of extensive coverage of the public.
In March 2014, an issue of W Magazine published a number of photographs under the title «Selfie absorbed». Photographer Emma Summerton showed in her pictures the dependence of society on social networks. Models completely absorbed by the virtual world were contrasted to the nature around them.
W Magazine also released a training video, “How to take a selfie like a supermodel”. In this video, famous top model Karly Kloss, Alessandra Ambrosio, Adriana Lima and others share their successful technique of taking selfie. Many people follow their recommendations because these girls spend most of their time in front of cameras and they certainly know a lot about posing for an excellent selfie.
The top model Cara Delevingne, who actually made a career thanks to her selfie, also decided to take advantage of her passion. Kara designed a capsule collection for the brand DKNY (August 2014). The models for the shooting of lookbook of this collection were sought on Instagram. Among the volunteers who uploaded their photos with the hashtag #CaraD4DKNY and #CaraWantsYou, Delavigne selected six models, which became the stars of the campaign.
One of the covers of i-D Magazine (September 2013) was decorated by a selfie of Jourdan Dunn. After the release of which, the model teased all selfie-takers by saying: «My selfie is better than your selfie because my selfie is on the cover of iD».
Advertising of iconic brand shirts Equipment for the season autumn 2014 consists of selfie-portraits of Daria Werbowy. Eight different appearances of the model were shot. And as for me, the most spectacular part of this campaign was the presentation of elegant photo-collages. In addition, the campaign filmed a funny video, which depicted how Werbowy spends time just having fun in front of the camera at her home in Ireland.
An unexpected collaboration between Acer and fashion designer Christian Cowan-Sanluis resulted in the invention of a high-tech hat for admirers of selfie. This novelty named Acer Selfie-Hat was presented as part of London Fashion Week in 2014. The design consists of a broad-brimmed pink hat studded with rhinestones and a pocket for a tablet. Not surprisingly, Lady Gaga has already been noticed wearing this unusual hat, although it was without the compartment for a selfie-device.
The presentation of Russian brand Walk of Shame, season autumn-winter 2014, was highlighted by the final presentation of the models walking with phones and taking selfie right on the stage. The designer of the brand Andrey Artemov also took a selfie of himself with models for Instagram.
Calvin Klein used a modern trend of selfie in the advertising his campaign of underwear. It was done by allowing costumers to post their selfie in the underwear from the brand on Calvin Klein website.
Surprisingly, even Karl Lagerfeld follows modern trends despite his 80 years old. He placed the iPads in the fitting rooms of his boutique in London, and thus he erased the taboo of the photo “Do you like my new dress?”. In addition to the ability of creating a self-portrait, the device allows editing, applying various filters and instant sharing of pictures to social media or sending them to an email, for a private collection.
An editor-in-chief of the fashion and lifestyle magazine “Vogue” and also known as the queen of fashion Anna Wintour is one of a few who remains out of the mania and does not take selfies. Not so long ago there appeared a video called “73 Questions with Anna Wintour”. This video where Anna says “I’ve never taken a selfie and I don’t plan to start now” quickly spread all over the Internet. Nevertheless, her statement can be questioned, because it is possible to find her selfie on the Internet (see below). And this is what the Vogue queen says: “Anna never takes a selfie, but others take selfies with her”. The real queen is recognized in these words.
Selfie with Anna Wintour presented by Ryan Charchian
Finally, I want to mention the article «Fashion in the Age of Instagram» in The New York Times, where Alexander Wang said that sometimes even during the process of creating a collection, he rather thinks about how clothes will look on selfie-pictures, than during a fashion show or in a showroom.
Surprisingly, not so long ago selfie was just a snapshot uploaded to social networks, today it appears on front pages and double-page spreads of magazines. Designers race to take the advantage of social networks while looking for new models and advertising of collections. I think selfie is a kind of revolution in the fashion world, which opens up new frontiers of development not only in clothing design but also in the way of its presentation.