I love you, I hate you: is the idyll between fashion and social media at an end?

Daniel Lee was the first to sour the relationship between fashion and social media when he was at Bottega Veneta. Then, many episodes have turned social networks against the brands, starting to suggest that this love story has come to an end. It could be true, or, perhaps, it is just the fashion industry that is looking for more controllable tools to dialogue with its community


Social media represents the standardisation of culture. Everyone follows the same flow of content. My work is the result of many thoughts and reflections: social media trivialises it“. It was a sentence spoken to The Guardian by Daniel Lee, when he was creative director of Bottega Veneta, to explain why the brand had deleted its social media accounts. In doing so, Lee ended up disowning the platforms that had given him success. But the designer did not give up.

“On social media, there is a kind of bullying that I don’t like. We are not just a brand, but a team of people working together, and I want to keep myself away from an atmosphere that is too negative.” The Bottega Veneta case has been emblematic in highlighting the upsides and downsides of the relationship between fashion and social media. The two have fed off each other for over a decade. But now many are wondering if the idyll has come to an end.

Is the idyll between fashion and social media at an end?

If one takes as a reference the approximately 70 million likes (a record on Instagram) collected by Louis Vuitton‘s advertising campaign with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, doubts can be set aside. With tens of millions of followers between Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, for several years now the brands have had visibility like never before, and the pandemic has greatly accelerated this love affair.

Some episodes, however, have soured the relationship. For example, the Balenciaga case had a strong negative impact on the brand. Two ‘unfortunate’ (understatement) advertising campaigns cast the shadow of acquiescent conduct on the issue of child abuse on the brand. And unleashed an uproar on its profiles.

Incidents that create suspicion

Another example is H&M, which had to deal with the consequences of Justin Bieber’s negative comments after marketing a collection dedicated to him. But beyond individual cases, a certain disinterest of the younger generation in certain platforms has emerged. For the first time in its history, Facebook lost users in the last quarter of 2021. Young people, it is well known, do not like it. Twitter had to deal with the turmoil caused by the arrival of new owner Elon Musk. Moreover, there are now many solutions that fashion brands have for no longer depend solely on these tools – starting with the Metaverse and, above all, Artificial Intelligence.

A question of control

In the meantime, however, the fashion system must urgently answer one question: how to control one’s image on social media? The question is not trivial because, going back to the Balenciaga case, even if the brand had not had its own profiles, its contested campaigns would still have caused a stir on social media. “The Balenciaga case,” comments Andrea Scotti Calderini, CEO and co-founder of Freeda Media (source: Pambianco), “has brought out a new evolutionary step. That is, from the brand that communicates, we have moved on to the brand that converses. Therefore, the content published and conveyed is daily, which means that there is a greater chance of a media incident happening‘. But there is also another change taking place.

Goodbye influencers and fashion bloggers

Brenda Otero of Lyst points this out in Elle. According to her, influencers and fashion bloggers are losing power. “Fashionistas no longer need to look at influencers. They prefer to overlap different styles and incorporate influences from the digital universe, Netflix, music, video games, and, of course, TikTok”. Otero is echoed by Linda Saieb, founder of Enjoy LHS Consulting. “People need a life behind a post dedicated to a product. A life of girls like Amina Muaddi, Violette Serrat, and Gilda Ambrosio, who have something to say beyond a product‘. More than a dislike for social networks, then, this could be a new strategic direction. The omnichannel mode seems to be the dream of today’s fashion brands. It is a way of addressing all generations but also all social strata. Something that social media, paradoxically, no longer allows.

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