Should we be designing for Instagram?

Reading Time: 05:00 mins

2018 will see the year we will reach ‘global device domination’ where the number of connected devices will exceed the human population.

This is an incredible technological feat but also shows how we now fully live in a digitally dominated culture. As human beings, we’re driven by the emotional reaction to engagement and are expectant of access to immediate information. We’re now ‘hooked’ on our devices.

No single app has become embedded in our culture as quickly as Instagram.

As of Sept 2017, Instagram had 800 million registered users with a reported 52 million photos posted daily. There can be no doubt of Instagram’s huge influence on the fashion industry since launching in October 2010, with a reported 72% of Instagram users making a purchasing decision based on what they saw on the app. Instagram’s ability to instantly grab a customer is now proven. Marketers have sought to optimize and leverage our eager gaze on our phones with more budgets geared towards social media than ever before.

But, are designers now influenced by Instagram? Is there a drive to design Instagram friendly products, collections of images that will harness the most traction on this particular social media platform? Has the potential buying income garnered from a single Instagram post changed the way we build and view fashion collections?  If not, should it or will it in 2018?

Margiela – a defining moment of creating the collection through the view of the lens.

During the SS18 couture presentation for Maison Martin Margiela, this January, John Galliano dimmed the lights and asked audience members to turn on their camera flash.  Each outfit glided past, resonating completely differently with the human eye to the resulting photographic image on the audience member’s devices.   This unique and compelling presentation filled the fashion worlds’ insta feeds.

However, the most interesting part of the collection is in its development. Each piece was created, photographed, viewed through the resulting photographic image and changed accordingly. “We recorded every moment of what we were making, then looked at the photographs and altered what we were doing according to the photos”, John Galliano.  This certainly takes the fashion industry’s relationship with the Insta generation one step further, generating a collection that is viewed entirely differently in an image than in reality. Is this a true representation of how we are now so connected to our devices that we judge our moments and experiences by how they’ll appear to others on Instagram.

The Age of Ugly

The fashion industry’s preferred aesthetic has shifted away from a desire to be elegant and minimal.  Has the drive to be eye-catching, extreme and to stand out resulted in what can only be described as ‘ugly’ fashion.

Remember the crazy coloured, chunky trainers of the late nineties associated with Dad’s waiting for us in the school playground?  These odes to ugly have been long resigned to the room 101 of bad nineties style, but they’ve undergone a recent revival thanks to the success of Balenciaga’s ‘Triple S’ trainer and, Raf Simons ‘Ozweego’.  The appeal of the super comfy triple souled running shoe isn’t what’s driven the demand for this product. Being brave in your fashion choices makes for a great Insta feed and engagement galore. A bold look or daring statement piece will make us stop scrolling and fix our attention.

The trend is set to grow with several collaborations in a similar vein hitting the shop floor this year. Vetements and Reebok have teamed up to bring a heavy soled sock trainer to premium retail partners for SS18. Its striking unisex design in black and white colourways creates a unique statement of personal style. The Y Project team are hot on their heals having teamed up with Ugg boots, yes the early naughties popular Australian, sheepskin, slipper boot, to launch a range of thigh-high slouchy boots for men and women.

With Rhianna already spotted in a pair of trusted Ugg’s, these extreme versions, are sure to fly off the shelves when they come to market in the autumn of his year.

So what does this mean for more commercial brands and retailers in the age of Instagram? We’ve identified two Insta trends that could reflect in product development for high engagement in 2018.

We all love to shine

As of December 2017, the KiraKira app was the number one paid-for app in the IOS app store. KiraKira lets you add shine and sparkle to your images and videos. This seemingly came out of nowhere, with Eva Chen, Instagram’s , Head of Fashion Partnership’s an early adopter. Her video of glitter Gucci boots posted during September 2017 New York Fashion week went viral, having 131,977 views to date. The eye-catching motion video of shimmering boots led to October and November saw a combined total of 700K downloads of the KiraKira app and an article in fashion bible, Vogue.

Kirakira certainly makes for a great image or post causing the user to stop scrolling through their feed, with the eye immediately drawn to the sparkle. Could utilizing the power of ‘bling’ be a sure fire way to Instagram success and a fast selling item? Think sequins, studs, metallic embroidery, lurex textured metallic jacquards, satin or anything that can add that sparkle punch and lustre to your range and collection.


We’re talking big sleeves, bold colours, dramatic silhouettes for maximum photographic drama. No longer reserved for just press items and catwalks, bloggers and Insta stars have made these items part of our daily outfits and lifestyles.  We’re hungry for more and the once paired back Scandinavian chic is down-trending for a more vivid, playful images that grab us instantaneously.

Details can be so crucial here, with so much more of an outfit to show off on Instagram, influencers and brands desire more bang for their buck. The more detailed a garment, the more dramatic a silhouette, the more an influencer can utilize an item and therefore the more images and engagement a brand can receive in return. It’s predicted in 2018 that a big insta-photography trend will be to focus on the delicate details and little touches of an outfit or item. Delving deeper into the world of the blogger and giving the consumer more access to the product before purchasing. With an even more intimate look than what can be seen in most online stores.

‘Every detail counts’ could be a key factor in driving more sales on an item.

Whatever your collection Instagram is changing the way we view product, the way we shop and the way we engage with customers. The trends and insights provided from the app can’t be ignored for long. So how much do You use Instagram? Or maybe you use other apps? We’d love to hear from you.

Header image: Photo by Brunel Johnson on Unsplash . Image 1: Maison Martin Margiela SS18 Couture, images courtesy of Vogue catwalk. Image 2: Age of Ugly L-R Balenciaga www., Raf Simons, Vetements Image 3: KiraKira Instagram posts L-R @evachen212, @poppydelevigne, @susiebubble. Image 4: Maximalism Instagram posts L-R @c_l_o, @ganni, @nytimesfashion, @wethepeoplestyle @double3xposure


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