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Social Media and Photo Filters Are Shaping Fall ’18 Fashion Trends

What came first, the design or the ’gram?

That was the question many pondered after the last round of fashion weeks. While brands have traditionally seeded or paid influencers to don their fashion on Instagram and other social media channels, designers presented Fall ’18 collections that were made for photo-sharing platforms.

After all, an Instagram-worthy look means good business. The beauty market is reaping the financial benefits of selfie culture and the demand for instruments that will achieve the optimal pout. The NPD Group reported that the U.S. beauty industry reached $17.7 billion in 2017, a 6 percent increase over 2016.

Social Media and Photo Filters Are Shaping Fall '18 Fashion Trends
Maison Margiela Fall ’18 runway. Photo by Shutterstock

And whether you chalk it up to business prowess, or real life being influenced by the curated “realities” shared on social media, it appears designers are developing collections inspired by trending social media imagery. Colors, textures and fabrics that recreate the effects of popular filters and photo apps like the sparkle-enhancing KiraKira app and A Color Story, which can transform blue skies into surreal candy-color landscapes, dominated the runway.

Balmain designer Olivier Rousteing was clearly inspired by muse Kim Kardashian West’s photo-taking and social media obsessions. For Fall ’18, the designer indulged in synthetic fabrics that achieve the same effects as said apps.

The #nofilter necessary collection included tops swathed in mermaid-like pallettes, translucent organza trousers, oil slick leggings, iridescent blazers and suiting that draped like liquid.

“I had—I wouldn’t say ‘fun,’ because I know that fun is not allowed in fashion—but I took a lot of pleasure in creating this collection,” Rousteing told Vogue about the making of the playful, youthful looks.

John Galliano for Maison Margiela used plasticized textures, transparent materials and holographic coatings to make a statement. Meanwhile, cascading ruffles with feather-like fringe edges created a purple to pink ombre effect. The look would have been just as much at home on an episode of Sesame Street as it was on the Parisian runway.

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Likewise, avant-garde designer Tsumori Chisato played with candied-color ombre fur and Dolce & Gabbana dressed up jean jackets with colorful fur collars.

Meanwhile, Ashish introduced tinsel to the catwalk. The London-based label presented a gratuitous amount of novelty, including sweaters, pants and jumpsuits made with the shimmery synthetic juxtaposed with Mexican Serape redone in colorful sequins.

Social Media and Photo Filters Are Shaping Fall '18 Fashion Trends
Ashish Fall ’18 runway. Photo by Shutterstock

Perhaps inspired by Saint Laurent’s Fall ’17 Niki 105 thigh-high boot with all-over white crystals—a boot that garnered popularity not dimmed by its $10,000 price tag—MM6 found itself on a silver streak for Fall ’18. The brand dressed models in space-age ensembles that spanned metallic silver parkas and silver shearling jackets to opera-length gloves drenched in diamond-like sequins.

Social Media and Photo Filters Are Shaping Fall '18 Fashion Trends
Saint Laurent Niki 105

The sparkle caught the attention of trend forecasting firm Fashion Snoops, which reported an influx of sequins and sparkly embellishments for Fall ’18 daywear. The attention-grabbing trims, the firm said, are part of an ’80s fashion resurgence, chock-full of power suits, strong shoulders and vivid colors.

Swarovski saw the resurgence of color coming. For Fall ’18, the crystal manufacturer presented Funtasia, a trend story based on color and playful textures designed to unleash the inner child in designers and consumers.

The trend invites fashionistas to dress like children by clashing color and materials. Here, teddy bear furs, pop culture references and overblown prints are mixed with cutesy animal motifs and hints of neon. To enhance the trend’s cartoon vibe, Swarovski introduced new novelty shape stones, including eyes and blossom starbursts.

Space has a place in the demand for far-out-there looks, too. Jennifer Karuletwa, senior trend and business consultant for Peclers Paris, a global trend forecasting and product development firm, said consumers are intrigued by ideas that examine augmented reality, artificial intelligence and technology.

“The cosmos is this mysterious new frontier that engages consumers and captivates our attention,” Karuletwa said, adding that people have a “spiritual need” to discover the galaxy.

Over the next three to five years, Karuletwa said colors will lean toward dark neutrals influenced by nature, contrasted with pale, light greenish colors, whites, yellows and blues that create a glowing effect. Materials that look like iridescent seaweed or have glassy transparent finishes and silicone textures will add a strange but sensual aesthetic, she explained.

Social Media and Photo Filters Are Shaping Fall '18 Fashion Trends
Ecco Leather

Even leather takes on fantastical look. Ecco Leather debuted the world’s first soft transparent cow skin leather in 2017. The tannery promoted the material at the February Materials Show in Portland, Oregon.

The innovative leather, named Apparition for its ‘ghostlike appearance’, appears transparent, pliable and supple, allowing for new unique design possibilities. The leather can be made in a range of colors, however, futuristic lime green has been a standout.

Flashy looks are due for denim as well. Munich-based trade show Bluezone highlighted jeans embellished with dense gold glitter and gold crocodile-embossed foil. All-over logo prints achieved through lasers, vinyl-like surfaces, ombre waxy coatings, oversized grommets (that serve no function) and “denim fur” were among the bold looks.

The look is brought to life through playful trims, including strategically placed lacing, contrasting zipper tape, oil slick finishes and buttons with embedded crystals.

The fashion team for Denim Premiere Vision touted astro dyes, twisted colors, rainbow button holes and jacquards in unconventional hues as must-haves for denim brands targeting trendy, social-media savvy consumers. Floral embroideries, brilliant holograms and coating for labels and fabrics inject a sense of joyfulness to denim fashion.

Social Media and Photo Filters Are Shaping Fall '18 Fashion Trends
Denim Première Vision Angela Velasquez

The result is “unicorn denim”—a spinoff the oddball, multi-color trend that infiltrated everything from hair color, cosmetics and phone cases, to toast, milkshakes and home décor.

Social media certainly amplified the trend. In an interview with Refinery 29 about consumers’ new found interest in unicorn fashion, Vaughn Scribner, an assistant history professor at the University of Central Arkansas, who studies mythical creatures, said: “This obsession with unicorns is nothing new—with social media, we’ve just found a different way to show it. In the 18th century, the smartest men in the world were running around trying to find unicorns and mermaids and monstrosities. Our society has always shared a wondrous hope that maybe a whimsical notion could be proven true.”

Nostalgia helped too. Millennials’ and Gen Z’s childhood were molded by psychedelic Lisa Frank designs, the holographic film of a CD and the colorful translucent exterior of the groundbreaking iMac G3. Those same textures, color combinations and finishes populated the Fall ’18 runway and can already be found in accessories. Chanel traded in its signature lambskin for colorful PVC this spring, while Yeezy, Alexander Wang and 3.1 Phillip Lim churn out transparent footwear.

And the trend shows no sign of slowing down. Fashion Snoops expects to see more surreal and offbeat elements carry into Spring ’19, naming vinyl as one of the key fabrications for the season.

“Demand for luxurious materials and crystal embellishment in on-trend colors is gaining much stronger traction as people grow tired of the streamlined styles of past seasons and look for products that evoke a sense of joy, Alexander Wellhoefer, senior vice president of operations, Swarovski Professional North America, told Sourcing Journal.