Instagram's Favorite Designer Is Banning Social Media At His Next Show
To say that social media has played a role in fashion in recent years would be an understatement. Today, people attend fashion shows as much to see the clothes and designs as to let all of their followers and “friends” know that they saw the clothes and designs. In fact it’s safe to say that today’s unofficial rule is: if you’re at a noteworthy fashion show and don’t have Instagram proof of it, you may as well have not been there at all. A picture may be worth 1000 words, but—I’m sorry to say it—an illustrious geotag is worth your right arm.
And it’s not just fashion’s oglers who have caught onto this; in recent years, social media has been integral to designers’ shows, sales, and overall likability. Copious labels, including Marc Jacobs, have released their never-before-seen campaign images on social media. For Calvin Klein‘s resort ’16 collection, Francisco Costa reportedly collaborated with an artist he found on Instagram. BESS NYC, the artist who’s known for his perverted, contorted, and subversive photo collages, uses Instagram as his sole platform, and has landed a couple fashion campaigns himself. Reams of models owe their careers to social media, which model scouts often scour for new talents. If it weren’t for social media, Kendall Jenner might have never traipsed the Chanel and Balmain runways, or landed her Estee Lauder, Givenchy, Fendi, and Calvin Klein campaigns. Likewise, Gigi Hadid‘s modeling career, if it weren’t for social media, might have started and then abruptly ended with her short-lived gig as the angelic 2-year-old in the 1997 Baby Guess campaign.
Which is what made Simon Porte Jacquemus’ announcement today, that he would be banning social media at his FW ’16 show, a bit puzzling. Nevermind the fact that the French designer made the announcement on social media—thus far, his entire career has been dutifully documented on and indebted to Instagram.
At 26 years old, Jacquemus is more social media savvy than some of his older counterparts—and it shows. He’s tremendously active on Instagram, and even popularized the triple posting technique (that is, posting three of the same or very similar photos all at once). He’s used Instagram as a platform to showcase not only his cult label, but his equally scrumptious face. Just two weeks ago, Jonathan Anderson streamed his namesake label’s FW16 show on Grindr—the arguably social media-enabled dating app. Why? So he could, as he said backstage, “Reach 196 countries in one moment.” Then he added, “I feel like it’s very important that brands explore media, it’s the only way forward.” As one of many designers and models who owe their careers to social media, Jacquemus’ decision to forbid any use of it at his upcoming show is rather odd.
That’s not to say this is the first time a designer has banned social media at his or her show. A couple years back, Tom Ford did just that—but his decision seemed rooted in an aversion to social media that stemmed from his unfamiliarity with it. He banned social media much like how your mother stubbornly refuses to give up leaving voicemails. And this became abundantly clear when, a couple years later, Ford told Tim Blanks, “Something new is happening that I’m just clueing into now—this probably won’t go down well—but customers don’t care any more about reviews or hard-copy publications. They care what picture Rihanna just Instagrammed while she’s naked in bed.”
Social media was banned at last year’s Met Gala as well—thanks to Ms. Anna Wintour herself. But Jacquemus is neither Mr. Ford nor Ms. Wintour—he’s neither a seasoned veteran nor a sovereign authority in the industry. Unlike Wintour and Ford, he is not yet ubiquitous in the industry, and so can’t afford to make such a drastic move. And yet, the drastic nature of this decision might help to reveal why he chose to instate the ban in the first place.
Whether it’s about an up-and-coming designer or the best presidential candidate for the upcoming U.S. election, it’s hard to form a well-rounded, objective opinion these days when you and your Instagram feed are being constantly inundated with countless other opinions. Perhaps Jacquemus is wise to this universal fallacy, and would rather receive genuine praise for his designs from the experienced, knowledgeable, and respected fashion critics, than immense support from millions of nobodies on Instagram. It’s a decision that may not be instantly beneficial to Jacquemus or his sales, but one that nonetheless raises some seriously poignant questions. Would Jacquemus have become so famous and so widely liked by industry insiders if fashion’s perennial French muse, Jeanne Damas, and a host of other fashion editors weren’t always commenting on his Instagram posts? Furthermore, would he have been a target of mockery for the white horse that closed his last show, if Instagrammers hadn’t first collectively declared their support of it? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Stay tuned to Milk for more updates on the upcoming women’s FW16 shows.
Main image shot by Sonny Vandevelde. Additional image via Samuel Lehuédé.