That isn’t happening often today because almost everyone has a smartphone and as such may have seen one design or the other on WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest that they can share with their seamstress to make for them.

These platforms have significantly influenced how we consume fashion today. When we see designs and styles that we like, we have the option to get in touch directly with the designer to make a purchase via the same channel or save the photo and share with our seamstress to do same for us.

There are the social influencers who have become trend setters and people follow them for style inspirations, get leads to where and what to purchase and how to style a particular look. They have created strong brands online that serve as inspiration to many who go on their pages to get ideas on what to wear and how to wear them.

This has also affected and changed how fashion products can be communicated and as such businesses need to be clear on their objectives and have a clear strategy before getting on there. It’s opportunities are vast and when done properly, can lead to massive business and brand growth. It is also important as a business to appreciate the relevance of these platforms and be able to use it to in the best possible way.

That said, it also has its downside. It gives free access to your hard work and creativity as anyone anywhere can easily save and reuse your designs or photos as if it were theirs. People can also remake your work even at a lesser cost instead of coming directly to you.

For instance, people can see their favorite celebrities wearing an outfit they would love to own. All they just need to do is save that image and take it to their seamstress to make the same dress for them. If they are lucky, they will achieve a perfect copycat but if they are not theirs may look a ridiculous rip-off the original.

I’ve had many clients and friends express their hesitation about putting their works online for fear of all these happenings.  A problem that is creeping into the fibre of many industries and raising the issues of originality and what makes a design original to someone and spotted on another makes it a copied or another inspiration.

And this is one of the huge challenges many fashion creatives face today with the influence of social media. To put them online or not to put them online. To control and how to control what you put online and who gets to access them. That said, you need to focus your energy and resources on the positive sides and make use of it.

On other ways people consume fashion, we have another trend called the “thrift” online buying where outfits are uploaded on brands social media pages and customers are expected to make their purchase within a particular time frame or someone else will beat them to it.

We also have the online Giveaways, several other social media promotions that get people to share and promote while being engaged until they finally make a purchasing decision.

One can admit that there are countless avenues on the internet that businesses can tap into and become successful. In this era, one can run a whole fashion business without having a brick and mortal shop. Which means, you can have great social media pages or website and run a full business of buying and selling without having to physically own a shop.

The dominance of social media has completely changed how fashion is communicated and consumed from the days of the traditional cultural era to a more technological era. The best way for fashion business owners to embrace social media and leverage on it is to appreciate and understand the dynamics that goes into all these platforms and develop strategies that align with their influence.

This article was originally published in the Business & Financial Times Newspaper on 26/7/2019