Instagram, a perfect tool for expression- lifestyle, fashion, food, art, personal, style, products, etc. we often find ourselves getting caught up trying hard to stand out from the overwhelming influx of updates, mesmerizing pictures, and videos, that sometimes translates to real-life experiences. But even then, it gets repetitive scrolling down a feed, as everything looks identical, borrowed or refurbished to appear different but sadly still remains similar, probably, because it is; standing alone on the top of the mountain, eating a healthy avocado sandwich, holding another cup of coffee with cream, hashtag “startaperfectmorning”. But then, why do we have so much commonality and repetition in this age(being dubbed the social media age), and how deeply did IG(Instagram) influence this social curse. Or a blessing?

Since its launch in 2010, Instagram became -one of- the most popular social networks in the world. The amounts of images shared per day are approximately 100 million, with overall posts of more than 50 billion for the past 9 years. When it started, Instagram users all tried to identify themselves, come to terms with their online social status, and for some, the novel choice of curating an online persona or being un-apologetically original to draw attention became a choice. With the ongoing development of the network, it became clear the popularity index brewing, with some users being more popular than others, and then the rise of influencing marketing began with the concept of earning while sharing the “perfect picture.” Others less creative and lazier simply started to copy content to become famous overnight. The Internet has made the world a smaller place while making it disturbingly easier to mimic the image of anyone and brands, not to mention how much money creative industries spend protecting their copyright. Even when not about plagiarizing, an original image requires effort, technical and creative skills, and while buying presets for editing in IG is easier and doesn’t require unique talents, you still need to have an “eye” to be able to figure out what might be appealing to your audience or in individual cases, what might get you more money. As a result, we become entangled in the vicious circle of IG: what gets likes, and the plethora of recreations in millions of accounts to get likes…

People are social creatures, and before Instagram, social media platforms like Myspace, Facebook, Twitter all seemed to have similar social agendas: more social than transactional, influential and sadly, ostentatious. We valued the idea of sharing images, dates, facts, opinions, experiences with our families and friends, and even more-so open to the suggestion of accepting unknown friend requests into our circle. Instagram did come with a dose of this agenda, but not long lastingly enough until its evolvement into what would be a playing field for creativity and originality theft.

What has lead to a repetition of visual and creative content on IG?

Social Validation? Money? Oversharing? Creativity bubble?

The never-ending aspiration for popularity drive users nuts. So many people go into overdrive to establish themselves as individuals (influencers) through the exact same resources: consuming the same visual content, taking the same photographs and tackling the same demographics. This clime continues to make actual originality a target of copiers, and has led to countless occurrences of creatives and originals being targeted by their up and coming peers as well “big scale emulators”- established brand names before the social media era backed by million-dollar investments, with legal representatives ready to tackle an average creative working to grow an identity or an audience.

The underlying effect of this is the current landscape of intellectual and creativity theft. Some happening intentionally, others blaming such repetition on creativity bias: the act of being subconsciously influenced by someone else’s work that it reflects on yours.

But then is Instagram to blame for lack of originality or creativity? Or do we argue that people have always been un-original, but a smaller information loop, being a derivative of Instagram made it more glaring?

As the global fashion industry heads towards a period of century-long changes, the wheels are finally changing, and customers realize their power in driving these alterations. But what really does a fashion choice mean in this clime? We’re still figuring that out.

Here is our take some ethical fashion choices and how you can join the change this summer.

Be fashion conscious and support ethical fashion. For a modern customer, it is essential to understand that clothes you buy have an effect on the environment; from the production process to the utilization process, and supporting ethical fashion means respecting workers rights for appropriate production and compensation conditions.

Invest in quality and sustainable materials. While sustainable fashion might be turning from trend to strategy, modern consumers are investing their fashion budgets into long-lasting apparel. Meaning buying less amount of clothes, but of a higher impeccable quality from eco-friendly and sustainable materials to cruelty-free materials. Fashion stylists should promote such method of curating a wardrobe, as this allows a great capsule of interchangeable apparel that will function for years and, at the same time reduce the amount of fashion trash utilized every fashion season. This is especially important, as the fashion industry is still among the most polluting industries in the world.

A rule of thumb is the need to clear every new space before a shopping trip – for those of us unstung by the impulsive buying bug- you could find items similar to a prospective purchase. Follow that action by the soul searching question of “Do I really need this?” All answers, yes? Then get yourself that shopping feast you deserve.

Fast fashion is cool, but its glory fades. Fashion mass-market giants continue to make us look similar to one another, and while the price tags on these fast fashion items are as tempting, the production quality still remains weak and unethical. Hence it’s in the rule book to be decisive when shopping with fast fashion brands. On the other hand, it’s always a winner to add a modern bespoke touch to your style and wardrobe there are lots of small independent brands that specialize in making good original limited edition clothing with sustainability in their DNA.

Lastly, don’t get into fashion panic. Fashion marketers are there to make our lives a fashion hell already, don’t make it easier for them. Sale periods haunts you from season to season, and it’s significant stress to resist these attractive bargains, but before grabbing another 70% off sale dress, try to think if its a one-off, or a timeless piece. Let’s be honest, everyone owns that item we impulsively bought for a “friend’s wedding” we wear it once, and it stays 7 years in our closet without getting any special cleaning. In this case, getting a one-occasion outfit is fine, but after that one time, make it work for others- It doesn’t have to be vintage Chanel to go on resale market. Give the outfit a new life in someone else’s closet and clean your wardrobe for in trend or more timeless items.

Finally, don’t buy clothes that don’t fit you or your style, It never will. End of story.

Fashion has evolved to be more than just clothes and looking good, it’s being redefined to be about a way of life and thinking showed through apparel both on the supply and on the demand side. The fashion industry now expresses a more intentional attitude towards social transformations, and as more and more customers are gaining awareness and enlightenment in fashion production, there is a new wave of the modern customer- one conscious about garment production, choices, and purchases, and the environmental and social influences of these processes.

“Customers are more demanding than ever. They have more power than they used to. They are smarter and have higher expectations than ever before. After all, we taught them!” – Shep Hyken

A significant percentage of consumers today have become aware of conscious decision making with buying. People are buying less, adjusting their shopping habits, and investing in quality and value, and AKO is in full support of this, as this aligns with our mission. Don’t be afraid to join the change!