Responsibilities of fashion and luxury social networks – WWD

If the media shapes society, social media does it better than most. It should be remembered that social networks can not only influence election results but also give rise to social movements like #MeToo. We are constantly connected, spending more than five hours a day on our mobile phones, and as interactions rarely stop in the sphere of digital communications, the societal impact of social networks is therefore crucial.

Luxury and fashion brands must also be aware of this societal impact, and they have a reinforced duty of responsibility because they create and spread trends. On social media, these influential and revered labels are also emulated by mainstream brands, so their power is multiplied. Brands are increasingly using social networks to increase their visibility, work on their influence strategy and display their values: inclusiveness, body positive, transparency, diversity and solidarity. For example, the French lingerie brand Chantelle, which was one of the frontrunners on issues of inclusion in 2018, or the shoe designer Christian Louboutin when it comes to diversity, or even more recently, the French skincare company Vichy skin, which tackles taboos with its #Menopositivity Campaign. Of course, Jean Paul Gaultier is also an inclusive brand from start to finish.

Brands should not delay in committing to change, nor be too modest if they are really carrying values, because afterwards they are regularly labeled with all kinds of washes, including greenwashing. To avoid this, being credible and proactive towards your community is crucial. Patagonia is a good example of this, because the brand goes to the end of its ideas. Also worth mentioning is London designer Karoline Vitto, whose Spring/Summer 2023 show during London Fashion Week was groundbreaking by showing only plus-size models.

Today some brands are exemplary in the way they also guide others to push their limits. They have values ​​on which they align concrete actions and this provokes instant reactions. Responsibility can flourish everywhere: on social networks, in communication, in the choice of words, in products and even in major financial decisions. At the same time, we must remain vigilant because manipulation is never far away.

Today, it is clear that it is historical evidence that counts. We must privilege the proof and put it in the spotlight. The public is looking for proofs, pledges and guarantees. We must also match what we wear with who we are, because the exterior is no longer enough in terms of authenticity. The interior must also be aligned.

In terms of change, we must also mention the relationships of brands with their audiences, which are no longer “top down”. There is more horizontality, fortunately, because brands are increasingly challenged by their audiences, customers, prospects and competitors within their ecosystems. Today’s brand and social media territories are made up of interactions, collaborations and personalization. Entertainment can dazzle us but should never blind us to our responsibility. We are in a real world, with real stakes.

The communication profession is not spared by these questions. Indeed, communicating means raising awareness among the consumers of tomorrow, creating messages that will reach them, setting the tone on social networks and thinking about advocacy and influence strategies, while remaining responsible both towards brands and the younger generations. This is an eminently critical moment for communicators, marketers and agencies working in territories of influence and power like social media, as they must arbitrate important questions to guide both brands and young people, and one cannot go without the other.

It’s a double challenge: that of being an excellent professional without relinquishing the responsibility of being a good parent, especially when one is “shaking up” disciplines that are constantly under surveillance. You can’t do everything and anything in the race for results and audiences. There is a space to be created that values ​​agencies, communicators and talents who do things well.

We talk a lot about responsible influence, but in fact, all our work must be as responsible as possible. It is also a very topical subject on the political level, but as far as we are concerned, there is a duty to set an example. These modern, lively and fast interfaces can have a very dark side. CTZAR has always wanted to stay on the safe side and stick to demanding values ​​in terms of education and transmission. This is also why we were the first agency to become a member of the ARPP and to integrate transparency labels into our platform and our way of working with influencers.

Social networks are currently writing a new chapter, in part because of their algorithms which have favored divisive and superficial content. But the world is changing, and new models are already emerging: the rise of communities with more proximity, companies launching media such as newsletters or podcasts, influencers who advocate authenticity, TikTok which gives pride of place to spontaneity, and gives credence to niche creators. No one wants traveling billboards anymore! Social media also brings out fashion trends. For example, luxury and fashion brands have massively jumped into the second-hand market, and it’s partly thanks to social media personalities who have managed to “recool” second-hand clothes and accessories and to make them appear as something other than sub-fashion.

Who are these people, really? In 2021, we published an article on the end of the word “influencer”, and this reflection is still relevant today. We are convinced that we must be very vigilant and not confuse influence with “influencer”. Influence is only a sort of loudspeaker, an amplifier, a consequence. It is the sign of a legitimacy acquired within the communities. They will recognize themselves in a personality with an authentic, fair and credible character, a talent capable of showing imagination and creativity, and a voice that has the breadth to convey ideas and values. The influencer hides under different profiles; they are never just an influencer in their life. Have you ever noticed that people don’t want to be called influencers? The term has been used so much that it almost has a negative connotation. This is also why at CTZAR, we talk more about social talents or makers. It’s more relevant to everyone, and it’s closer to reality.

Camille Olivier and Thomas Silve are the founders of the creative agency CTZAR and are specialized in social networks and influence.

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