Illustration of a hand holding a phone with an independent fashion brand’s Instagram page on screen.

Social Media and New Designers

Before social media you needed an entire team, a manufacturer and a starting capital to create a successful brand, now all you need is an instagram account, a sewing machine and an idea.
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GRAPHIC DESIGN Jacqueline Borg

If you were to type “how to become a famous fashion designer” into the Google search bar you will find a 15 step process explaining how to become the next Karl Lagerfield. Google will tell you that you need to grow up around textiles and sewing, next you will need to study fashion history in high school, then graduate from a reputable design school, attend an internship, start making networking connections, sketch an entire collection, find funding through your connections, hire a design team, sew the collection, style it, curate a fashion show, find models, hire a marketing team, lose all your money, sleep on the floor, eat 89 cent ramen every night, sell your soul and then finally you’ll be successful. 

Google is lying to you, in this day and age you don’t need a degree and a sewing machine to become a fashion designer, instead you need a TikTok account and a catchy Instagram handle. 

So how do new designers and brands manage to find success on social media platforms? One word: virality. Each and every day a new designer and their latest creation goes viral overnight on the internet; just like how a popstar can get a top charting single, a designer can get a hot commodity design.

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The Gooseberry Colossal Knit in all her glory 🍇

A post shared by HOPE MACAULAY (@hope.macaulay) on

There are several main ways a brand/designer can go viral, the most common ways include giveaways, trend-hopping or a catchy advertising campaign. However, the most effective way is for a celebrity to publicly wear your designs. Maybe you’ve heard of the chunky knitted sweaters named after the designer Hope Macaulay, created in 2018, the brand started on instagram as the beginning of a graduate project. The brand started small but after pop singer Halsey was photographed wearing their signature knit cardigan the brand experienced viral success, appearing on every fashion blog throughout Instagram. Since then the brand has made noise amongst street culture and has been featured in Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and Vogue.

Google is lying to you, in this day and age you don’t need a degree and a sewing machine to become a fashion designer, instead you need a TikTok account and a catchy Instagram handle.

Maybe you’ve heard of the brand Unxpectd, a TikTok brand that started with five boys designing hoodies as a school project. Their road to success was paved by a genius online tactic: sending their product to as many popular TikTok creators as possible. After having Charli D’amelio with 81.4 million followers and Addison Rae with 56.6 million followers both post TikTok’s wearing their sweater, with each video gaining over 100 million views, the brand blew up. These videos alone helped sell out Unxpectd’s inventory and gain them over 400 thousand followers on TikTok.

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These are black owned things!! 🤩❤️ @halleballie

A post shared by JJVintage (@jjvintage__) on

Even if you can’t get a celebrity to wear your designs, trend-hoping has proven to launch success on social media. Trend-hoping is when a popular style erupts on social media and designers create their own unique spin to appeal to the public. Reworked vintage clothing has proven to be one of these trending outlets, where vintage t-shirts, socks and pants are cut up and sewn into crop tops, bucket hats and bags. The most popular account succeeding at this trend is an Instagram brand called JJ’s Vintage (@jjvintage__) where reworked Nike t-shirts are turned into dresses and crop tops. This brand has spread across Instagram through fashion influencers and has gained the brand over 30 thousand followers.

Another designer combining all of these viral tactics is an Instagram brand called 4444 (@4×1111). Owned and operated by only one man, the brand creates handmade tapestry crewnecks with popular album covers, movie posters and other pop culture phenomena designed on them. They not only gained attention simply by having unique designs of popular celebrities but also because each tapestry is one-of-a-kind. Since the designer can only make so many tapestries at a time and consumers always want what they can’t have, fans of the brand have started a loyal following and continuously wait for drop dates and giveaways. 

Despite virality, social media has become a platform much more impactful than the fashion community could have imagined. In the past the dream of creating a brand was unattainable, a goal only money and a privileged education could achieve. Social media has become the breeding ground for creativity, a stable platform where designers can rise to suit the niche styles of all personalities. A safe haven of less judgement, inspiring creativity and faster success.