Shopping Social Media: Instagram Brands



Kylie Jenner wears Fashion Nova jeans for an ad on her Instagram account on Dec. 27, 2016.

Thomas Chou, Beauty & Style Editor

In recent years, as fashion has adapted to today’s tech-centric society, a powerful new platform for advertising has emerged: Instagram.

A cost-effective, direct method of advertising, brands that advertise on Instagram are able to have photos of their clothes displayed directly on the screens of their consumers’ phones, skipping the steep costs of traditional print advertisements in magazines or newspapers. With a heavy focus on e-commerce, as opposed to traditional brick-and-mortar stores, popular Instagram brands like FashionNova, I.AM.GIA and Pretty Little Thing have completely revolutionized the shopping experience.

Fashion Nova, an online retailer based in Los Angeles, has over 11 million Instagram followers. Often featuring celebrities and influencers such as Kylie Jenner, Cardi B and Amber Rose wearing its designs, Fashion Nova has rapidly grown a loyal consumer base — which includes many NYU students — almost entirely through the photo sharing app.

“I first found FashionNova a few years back when I saw a photo of Kylie Jenner in a pair of [its] jeans,” CAS sophomore Jia Liu said. “She tagged the brand in the photo, and because I thought the jeans looked great on her, I wanted to check out their page to see what [it was] all about.”

Another facet of the Instagram shopping craze is the competitive pricing that these brands are able to offer. By taking runway fashion trends and translating them into more affordable generic designs, shoppers are able to get a taste of luxury at a fraction of the cost.

“The experience of shopping Fashion Nova clothes through [its] Instagram almost doesn’t feel like shopping at all,” Liu said. “Although I know that every photo they post is basically a subliminal advertisement, it’s fun to look through [its] feed and peruse looks for style inspiration and to purchase especially since the clothes are so cheap.”

CAS junior Juli Torres expressed a similar sentiment.

“Shopping from Instagram brands directly is the ultimate way to try out styles that become popular through social media,” Torres said. “It’s a fun way to experiment with high fashion or trendy styles that you might not want to invest a lot of money into, just in case the trend blows over, or you realize that you don’t like it as much as you thought you would.”

However, as is often the case with fast fashion, the quality of the clothing of these Instagram brands is not always the greatest.

“Last year, I bought an outfit to wear out on Halloween from Fashion Nova because it was super cute when I saw it online,” Liu said. “But when it actually arrived, I couldn’t see myself wearing it more than two times before the stitching of the straps tore away or something along those lines. The quality felt cheap.”

With successful Instagram brands popping up left and right, it is interesting to see how the culture of fashion changes to suit the needs and wants of the modern-day shopper. While it’s no secret that shoppers have begun to shirk away from shopping in-store in favor of shopping online, Instagram-based brands represent a fervor for online retail taken one step further.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 2 print edition. Email Thomas Chou at [email protected].