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Forget Instagram: what has happened to fashion week commentary on Twitter?

This post first appeared on Fashionista.com

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Is it just me or has Twitter become much less inspiring during fashion week season? I say that as an avid user – both personally and profesionally. I peruse posts day to day, and particularly once the shows hit London, Milan and Paris, when I’m watching via livestream from New York. I scroll through my own feed, I consume via social dashboards attached to designers’ websites, and I go back and search using hashtags and brand names afterwards, too.

What I’ve always enjoyed is the live commentary that you gather from those in the front row, but there seems to have been very little of it for the past couple of seasons, and I for one really miss it. Not the tweets that tell me what show they’re waiting for, the fact the first model has appeared/the last model has walked out, or even what color they’re seeing. Those still exist, and I can gather all that from home.

No, what I really want back, is actual commentary. I want to hear from the editors –- the experts no less — about the 1930s theme emerging at Prada and the influence Miuccia drew from film director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, or the details of the new Bloomsbury-inspired, hand-painted florals at Burberry Prorsum. I want to know what is sashaying down that runway that, from my own 13-inch screen, I can’t quite see.

The images that are posted can be nice, of course, and on occasion insightful (if not blurry, but that’s another issue). But what happened to a wonderfully descriptive annotation along with it? Or better yet a real-time opinion, a review-on-the-spot even? Here are some of the highlights from the Lanvin show Thursday:

Lots of pictures naturally, but did you gather much about the line really? Navy, white and feathers. It’s a start.

Now it’s not that everyone has put their smartphones back in their handbags to focus on the clothes as they come out of course. So what’s going on?

First up, quite obviously: Instagram. During London Fashion Week there were a total of 266,767 mentions on Twitter, and 316,359 posts on Instagram, according to Bell Pottinger, a British public relations and marketing firm. So arguably, much more time is being spent there.

It goes without saying there’s huge benefit in that space of course. But when someone is at at home watching a livestream, or has access to high-res images in near real-time — not to mention backstage ones from the brand themselves — Instagram shots from the front row don’t necessarily offer all that much. They’re a nice-to-have, and for a feel of fashion week in general, a fantastic stream to follow. But for those really wanting to know about the collections themselves, there’s still a gap — an information gap.

The skill of an editor who has worked in the industry for 10 or more years is to be able to quickly deduce what a collection is about, to analyze its importance for trends, to bring contextual knowledge of its applicability to the commercial market and to offer a clear understanding of the technical side (i.e., garment construction and fabrications).

Portraying that over Twitter is no mean feat. I attempted it as a guest Tweeter on behalf of my employer, WGSN, for the @mbfashionweek account during New York at a number of shows and it’s entirely consuming.

But I don’t think the fact few editors or publications seem to be offering anything like this anymore comes down to just not having the time. With social media now reaching maturity, there’s inevitably becoming a greater push in terms of strategy for organizations and individuals alike on what to do and what not to do to achieve audience engagement.

So here’s my question: Is this lack of Twitter commentary as simple as editors just becoming more obsessed with Instagram? Or is there actually a direct decision being made not to give away too much there and then? (The knowledge of these men and women is a valuable commodity — why hand it out on a free platform, when you can rather store it up and post it on your own site for traffic generation later?)

Then again, maybe it’s just as simple as the fact we’re also all just a little bit over it. Or overwhelmed. Or lazy. Still, I’d like it back.

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Diana Vreeland documentary can teach the fashion industry something about marketing too

In the new Diana Vreeland documentary, The Eye Has to Travel, designer Diane von Furstenberg refers to the memos written by the late editor and museum curator, as being like a blog. “[Vreeland] was, in fact, the first blogger,” she jokes.

The wit, precision and bite-sized content of those memos however, makes that idea, albeit in analog form, not too hard to imagine playing out successfully online.

Vreeland wasn’t of course around to witness the explosion of the social web, but had she been a part of it, she most definitely would have done it better than anyone else.

The film itself, is truly incredible. As the write-up reads: “Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel is an intimate portrait and a vibrant celebration of one of the most influential women of the twentieth century, an enduring icon who has had a strong influence on the course of fashion, beauty, publishing and culture.”

It continues: “During her fifty year reign as the “Empress of Fashion”… [she invited] us to join her on a voyage of perpetual reinvention and take part in the adventure of life. Through her trained and diligent eye, she opened the door of our minds and gave us the freedom to imagine. Her images and accomplishments are as fresh and relevant now as they were then, and her spirit is just as vibrant and relevant today.”

Part way through the film, one of the many high profile old colleagues, friends and family members (from Richard Avedon and Lauren Bacall to Hubert de Givenchy) featured, says: “She was about ideas, the magic of fashion.”

And it’s that that resonates.

It reminds us once again why the fashion industry can be so incredibly good at marketing: it’s all about storytelling and imagination. Or as Vreeland so aptly says in the film: “We live through our dreams and our imagination. That’s the only reality we ever really know…”

Most definitely something there to be learnt in how to approach digital strategy.

Go watch the film.