These days, a designer’s Instagram seems almost as important as their actual designs. Who are you if you don’t have at least a five-figure following, anyway? This year saw mega-brands put on such over-the-top, Insta-friendly runway shows that the clothes occasionally faded into the background of an epic set. Others are going off the runway and staging photogenic presentations instead, like Ryan Roche’s ballet and A.P.C.’s rave from Spring ’17. Meanwhile, lots of new talents are skipping Fashion Week altogether to focus on building an organic, close-knit Instagram community.
So are these Insta-strategies working? The proof is in the numbers. Instagram gave Vogue Runway an exclusive list of fashion’s top-performers in 2016, from the most popular designers to the models who gained the most new followers. Let’s first consider how many people get their fashion fix via Instagram: During the Fall ’16 shows in February and March, 42 million people had 283 million interactions (meaning, likes or comments) related to the shows in New York, London, Milan, and Paris. That’s a 68 percent increase in the number of people compared with last February. And by the time the Spring ’17 shows rolled around in September, 16 million more people were following the collections on Instagram, with a grand total of 58 million people and 398 million interactions. At a time when the fashion industry is in a state of flux—from disappointing retail sales to beloved designers being pushed out of their jobs and nonsensical delivery cycles—it’s at least refreshing to see that the public is more interested than ever.
Instagram also crunched the numbers on the “top fashion accounts of 2016,” which means the ones that gained the most followers. Are you surprised Gigi Hadid landed the number one spot? In 2016, the model’s follower count increased by 16,033,757 (and counting—there’s still a couple weeks left). Close behind Gigi was her sister Bella Hadid, who came in at number four with 5,849,699 new followers. Both Hadids had a lot going for them in 2016: They walked countless runways, fronted ad campaigns for Versace, Maybelline, and Stuart Weitzman, codesigned new collections (more on that later) and took turns in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Of course, Gigi and Bella are also very active on their own social-media accounts. That said, we were surprised to see Hailey Baldwin come out ahead of Bella, Emily Ratajkowski, and Chrissy Teigen; Baldwin landed at number three with 5,935,909 new followers. She walked in Jeremy Scott, Tory Burch, and Dolce & Gabbana’s Spring ’17 shows, but we have a feeling her brief relationship with Justin Bieber also accounted for her sudden appeal.
The most-followed designer of 2016 might not surprise you—it’s Chanel. The house gained more than 8 million followers this year for a grand total of 16.8 million and counting. Not only is Chanel arguably the most recognizable label in the world, but it has the history to back it up. It’s one of the oldest houses (Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel founded the label in 1909); Chanel is responsible for several iconic pieces, like the Little Black Dress, the tweed suit, and the quilted bag; and it has one of the longest-standing creative directors ever. Karl Lagerfeldtook over in 1983 and is the only designer to succeed Coco. Maybe if other fashion houses can hold onto a designer for that long—or at least for more than three years—they’ll have a shot at being number one, too.
Also on the Top 10 list is Gucci—again, no surprise there!—and Topshop, likely due to its successful Ivy Park collaboration with Beyoncé. But we were a bit surprised to see Victoria Beckham in the number three spot; her label is well known and beloved within the fashion industry, but not ultra-recognizable to the greater population. Of course, having a gorgeous husband (and gorgeous children) and a former pop career don’t hurt. The Spice Girls hit it big in 1996, right when millennials—Instagram’s biggest demographic—were just starting school and getting into pop culture. (Ask any 20-something girl what her first concert was, and she’ll probably say ’NSync or Spice Girls.)
Instagram also charted the designers who made the biggest impact during New York Fashion Week. Those hectic nine days are the most crucial time for designers and their new collections to be visible on the platform. Michael Kors was number one (who could forget Rufus Wainwright’s joyful performance in the middle of the runway?), Beckham was number two, and Tom Ford came in at number seven. His show was an intimate affair with very few guests and even fewer photographers, but the scheduling also worked out nicely. Less than a week before his Four Seasons dinner-and-show, Ford debuted his new movie Nocturnal Animals at the Venice Film Festival. It’s had steady buzz since then and just picked up three Golden Globe nominations, so it has Oscar potential, too.
The designer with the third-most interactions during NYFW? Tommy Hilfiger, who staged a giant carnival at Pier 16 for his see-now-buy-now Fall ’16 collection. Not only were there major models and a starry front row, but the clothes on the runway were part of the new “Tommy x Gigi” collaboration with none other than Gigi Hadid. It was Instagram gold in every way, and proves how successful a good collaboration can be.
Our favorite bit of news from this Instagram deep dive might be the fact that Calvin Klein is the number eight brand with the most NYFW interactions—and it didn’t even have a show. Of course, no one can stop talking about Calvin Klein’s new chief creative officer Raf Simons; the brand confirmed the news in August, just a few weeks before NYFW kicked off. Calvin Klein’s super-successful #mycalvins campaign likely had something to do with its ranking, too. Popular celebs like Justin Bieber, Bella Hadid, Kendrick Lamar, Kate Moss, and Margot Robbie starred in the campaign, which also invites “real people” to post their own #mycalvins snaps on Instagram.
In February of 2017, Simons will show his first Calvin Klein men’s and women’s collections together at NYFW, and we already know it will be the show of the season. Watch this space to see if the brand skyrockets to number one next year.