Has Social Media Left Nothing to the Imagination for the VSFS?

kendalgigiImage credit: Corey Tenold

Last night the angels hit the glittered runway for what used to be one of the most anticipated events of my teenage years. But as the viewers for the SuperBowl and presidential debates continue to rise in numbers each year, those watching the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show have exponentially dropped. Last year’s 2015 show saw the worst ratings to date with a 32 percent drop from the 2014 show.

Marshal Cohen, a chief industry analyst at market research company NPD Group, stated that the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is a “highly social, digital event that will reverberate for weeks to come.” Recent trends in social media, however, may be causing a shift in how one views the show. And these trends may be causing a change in the the way people buy as well.

 

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The highly popular application Snapchat has allowed people to see the show in real time. Instagram, acting as the modern blogger’s outlet, shows every look before they hit shelves. Magazines’ online sites post look slideshows and reviews as soon as the models take their final walk. The overwhelming amount of photos and articles coming through people’s multiple social media accounts have lessened the excitement in watching the show that aired a week after the live event. Thus by the time it comes for Victoria’s Secret to release the items shown on the runway, people are already bored with them.

 

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Additionally, the increasing amount of what I like to call “drama” has taken away from the show’s main point: to sell clothes. Bella Hadid’s critically acclaimed side eye to ex and 2016 show performer Abel Tesfaye, also known as The Weeknd, was discussed more than her metallic outfit. Baby joy surrounding Irina Shayk’s cleverly concealed baby bump got people talking more about baby daddy Bradley Cooper than her sexy trench coat that covered it. But this is not the first time we’ve seen the merging of celebrities and fashion in the Victoria’s Secret world. Last year, casting directors brought on Kendall Jenner who undoubtedly came with a slew of distraction in the form of her family. And the rest of the models are no longer just models; they’re international social media sensations who just happen to wear ridiculously expensive lingerie one night every December.

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So why is this social media explosion affecting the hype around the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show but not other designers’ multiple annual presentations?

For one, Victoria’s Secret targets a different demographic group than most luxury brands.

Former WFU Style President and founder Megan O’Sullivan says it’s all about fantasy. “The viewers aren’t necessarily the customers,” Megan told us. “I’m not a customer of Victoria’s Secret but I watch the show every year. I’m sure they have plenty of non-customer watchers who [Victoria’s Secret] were hoping to gain as customers, but are really just looking for something fantastical to watch.” Those staying up-to-date with shows during fashion week are there strictly for fashion (and their jobs) rather than entertainment. Social media is also a primary way for those in the fashion industry to stay connected with current trends, as well as with each other. Thus social media promoting various designers’ shows is helping instead of hurting.

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Secondly, buyers will continue to buy regardless of whether or not the collections are omnipresent on social media.

Victoria’s Secret customers, however, see buying as an experience rather than a seasonal goal. A bombardment of images of lingerie may increase someone’s want to buy something but there’s no pressure from an employer to get the best of the best right then and there. For buyers, social media helps them remind themselves of shows they attend and check out shows they missed.

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And finally, the week long time period between when people can see the show and when it’s actually aired has given people the ability to get tired of the show’s coverage.

If someone falls, we know about it. You can watch all of the performances on YouTube the night of. There’s a lack of surprise today like never before. The only glimpses we get of other runways are right before they happen or during. We don’t have to wait a week to watch the edited version. Fashion shows should be a mysterious unveiling of one’s long-term creation, yet Victoria’s Secret has managed to pull off the opposite.

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Now I’m not saying that I hate the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. I couldn’t help but think last night as I watched it with friends how much a fashion show could bring people together (even when we should be studying for exams). But with regards to marketing game plans, Victoria’s Secret might do best by straying away from the social media trend in fashion and leaving some for the imagination.

– Ashton Caudle

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