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Despite only being a quarter in to 2014, the year is already shaping up to be a game-changer for the fashion industry. A few short years ago, the globally-renowned Fashion Weeks of London, New York and Milan were purely the domain of the insiders, whereas nowadays we’re all able to be on the ‘FROW’. Virtually, anyway.


Instagram, Twitter and Vine have helped bring the catwalk to our smartphones, meaning more wannabe fashonistas, bloggers and shopaholics have had access to the shows like never before.


But, is it really the next best thing to being there, and why do brands want to make next season’s fashions known to the general public, months in advance of them adorning the shelves when we’ll undoubtedly part with our pennies?


As a self-confessed Instagram addict (my feed is flooded with everyone from Alexa Chung to Elle’s fashion editor), I adore getting my fashion fix at the swipe of a finger. The real-time updates and money-can’t-buy views have a strong pull on my senses and make me feel like a chosen one, an insider, too.


Milan Fashion Week, which came to a close earlier this week, streamed all Instagram images using #MFW to Milan Fashion Week Live.  It demonstrated a simple but effective way of creating an online community, which offered an instant view of the day’s events. And the best part was you didn’t have to be anywhere near Milan – you could be down the aisle of your local Morrisons and get the same view.


But, let’s not forget that brands are embracing social media ultimately because it makes commercial sense. It gives them a much bigger audience and is proven to drive traffic to their websites and increase the potential of their chosen platforms. With more content comes more followers. Simple.


It’s impossible to avoid the obvious point of it being far less costly than a full blown advertising campaign, too.


Saying that, even brands with gargantuan budgets – Topshop, Burberry and Matthew Williamson – have climbed aboard the social media express for A/W 2014. Despite having the cash to flash, they’re demonstrating the need to utilise contemporary platforms that appeal to their target audience.


It bodes well for the PR industry that has expertise in this field, as it encapsulates many of the same core objectives that traditional methods strive to achieve – to encourage word of mouth, build reputation and help drive sales.