Fashion and Social Media: The Bloom Is Off The Rose

When last we visited the pairing of social media and fashion, New York Fashion Week had just ended and everything was rosy.  Designers were livestreaming their shows, bloggers were thrilled to be wined and dined by brands, and social media was the new darling of the industry.

Fast forward just six short weeks.  A series of social media missteps has tangled the skirts of a few prominent fashion brands, and it may take some time for them, and the industry, to figure out how to better manage the new norm of transparency and authenticity in a traditionally closed, secretive world.

Kenneth Cole Cairo Explosion

In early February (actually before Fashion Week), just as Egypt was exploding, shoe and clothing designer Kenneth Cole waded into deep Twitter muck with an ill-conceived tweet suggesting that the Cairo uprisings were somehow related to the release of his Spring collection. Within minutes the Twittersphere was all abuzz, with outraged bloggers and influencers taking to their tweetstreams to put Mr. Cole in his place. A parody Twitter account, @KennethColePR, even popped up to take advantage of the situation, ensuring that the gaffe got maximum attention for the better part of the month.

John Galliano’s Firing From Dior

While designer John Galliano’s firing was his own undoing (he made blatantly anti-Semitic remarks, on video, which of course ended up on YouTube), it was Twitter, again, that amplified the message.  Non-fashionistas and fashionistas alike took to Twitter, and when Natalie Portman, Jewish spokescelebrity for Dior, weighed in and was broadcast all over social media – it was truly over for Galliano at Dior.

Marc Jacobs Intern Melts Down

@marcjacobsintl tweet following intern meltdown

The CEO of Marc Jacobs, Robert Duffy, had been at the helm (inexplicably) of their Twitter account for some time. In mid-February, they advertised for a new Twitterer – applications via Twitter only, of course. While they were looking, they installed an intern in the job. Um, not so smart. On March 25, said intern melted down via the company’s Twitter account, letting out a series of tweets berating the boss and firmly sinking any chance of him ever working in fashion again.

Brands make mistakes and brands recover from mistakes….and fashion is no exception. But, based on these gaffes, there will unquestionably be a “new norm” in the future for formerly freewheeling designers and fashion personalities when it comes to their social media presences.