New York Fashion Week, what was once an exclusive fashion event reserved only for the high-end designers and influential editors of the moment, has now been opened up to a whole new audience via social media.

At this year’s New York Fashion Week, designers are starting to see more social media personalities, bloggers, or celebrity fashion icons replacing the front-row seats previously held for reporters and the fashion elite.

The biggest impact of the influx of these social media personas is that not only are they getting a first-hand look at this season’s designs, but so are all their followers.

With the rise of apps like Instagram and Snapchat, which both have live-feed story options, social media can bring New York Fashion Week to anyone in the world.  And they don’t even need a ticket.

“I think we’ve already started to see a major shift in where Fashion Week is headed.  The industry as a whole is starting to get social media burnout from some shows focusing on social media over actual clothing to the influencer takeover- the original plot of the week has been lost,” associate director of Harper’s Bazaar Lauren Alexis Fisher told TooFab.

Not only has this shift brought more social media influencers into the inner-circle of high-fashion, but it has also brought haute couture out of New York City.

More designers are debuting their collection outside of New York Fashion Week, making their pieces more accessible to a ready-to-wear audience.

In early February, designer Rebecca Minkoff premiered her Spring 2017 collection at The Grove shopping mall in Los Angeles.  Introducing even more innovations, rather than hiring professional models, she used popular social media personalities to wear her clothes instead.

“Influencers have such strong and dedicated followings.  In this new, evolved world of social media, they are the new celebrity.  What better way to get the customer excited than to have their favorite influencer walk the runway?” Minkoff told Forbes magazine.

Her plan to tap into the new and upcoming age of social media certainly proved successful, with the show’s appearance on social media reaching an impressive audience of 11.4 million viewers.

Rebecca Minkoff is not alone in her efforts to reach a greater, more modern audience.  Tommy Hilfiger followed Minkoff to the L.A stage.

On Wednesday, the designer premiered his Spring collection on the Venice Beach Boardwalk, a collection he co-designed with fashion icon and celebrity Gigi Hadid.  His collection is also already available for purchase online, where you can shop while viewing the runway show.

When it comes down to it, these designers are primarily focused on making their fashion more accessible.  Both designers have relatively moderately priced-designs, and by bringing them directly to their target audience, and using social media icons to sell it, they are making fashion more attainable.  Certainly, fashion shows at The Grove or Venice Beach seem more consumer friendly than the restricted tents of New York Fashion Week.

“Every designer has a different focus when it comes to their brand so I think it really depends what the focus of the brand is,” Harper’s Bazaar Fisher said.

Social media moguls also seem on-board with the shift in the high-end fashion industry.  Kelsey White, one prominent fashion blogger with almost 100,000 Instagram followers, spoke with TooFab about designer’s newfound relationship with social media influencers.

“Designers are prioritizing bloggers/social media influencers rather than editors and high-end fashion clientele because it gives a brand immediate exposure and clout.  Instagram followers trust an influencer’s opinion.” White said, “They look to them for the most buzzworthy events and trends in the fashion industry.  Think of them as full-time fashion reporters- snapping, and posting 24/7.”

As social media becomes a presence in almost every aspect of life, it’s no surprise that it has become a driving force in the fashion industry.  Now more than ever, being a social media personality is a golden ticket into the world of the fashion elite.

Features Image via Flickr/Art Comments

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