NYFW: How are Fashion Publishers Using Instagram?

February 18, 2016

Written by NewsWhip

The visual nature of fashion coverage makes it well-suited to Instagram – how are major publishers using the platform during New York Fashion Week?

It’s a pivotal time in the fashion calendar: New York Fashion Week (Fall/Winter 2016). Amidst the snow and glacial temperatures, the great and powerful of the style world descended on New York City last week for seven days of shows, events, and previews. The last week also included Valentine’s Day and the 58th Grammys, leading to a corresponding flurry of activity on social. We decided to use these events to get a feel for how fashion publications are using social – in this case, Instagram.
The uniquely visual nature of fashion coverage makes it well-suited to Instagram, with photos from fashion shows, red carpets, backstage and photo shoots all proving popular. These are often combined with links to galleries or features on the publications’ websites, helping to spur referrals.
(Note: we looked at content on the publications’ flagship – generally US-based – accounts. This analysis takes in engagement on content published between 11th and 16th Feb 2016 only.)
Here’s how the names we looked at stack up:

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Among this group of publishers, Vogue magazine comes out in front. As a leading name in the fashion industry and an internationally recognisable brand, this is perhaps unsurprising. The magazine’s Instagram account generated huge engagement of over 1.5 million interactions in just five days. Second-placed publication Cosmopolitan generated substantially fewer interactions – 841,431 in total for this period – but this was enough to separate it from third-placed ELLE magazine by almost 500,000 interactions.

In addition, Cosmopolitan notched up by far the most Instagram comments in this period. Its account received 38,199 comments over five days, a figure three times higher than the amount generated by Vogue (12,095 comments) and considerably more than any other name in the list. Its tendency towards a more candid, light-hearted approach on Instagram may have contributed to these figures.
ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and Glamour round out the top five for this period while Vanity Fair just slips into sixth place. It’s interesting to note that the table becomes more closely contested further down the ranks, while the top three names each have an edge on their nearest rival.


Understandably, the top posts for this period are almost entirely photos. There are only two videos in the top 25 posts for these five days, both of which were posted by Vogue. Vogue dominates the breakdown of top posts – the first 17 of the top 25 pieces of content came from the publication’s Instagram. Of the other names in the rankings, Cosmopolitan and Vanity Fair are the only two to appear in the top 25. Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar and ELLE each have one post in the top 50, which otherwise comprises a huge amount of Vogue content.
Given the week that’s in it, images from New York Fashion Week figure prominently among the top posts. The top photo for this period was Vogue’s image of the Beckham family sitting front-row at Victoria Beckham’s show during NYFW. No doubt aided by the family’s star power, the image elicited 157,318 engagements during these five days.

The second post is also from NYFW. Instagram darlings Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid appear in an image taken just before Diane von Furstenberg’s show. Gigi appears again, this time with her sister Bella and Rihanna, in the third biggest post. These two images earned 139,529 and 128,650 engagements respectively.
Their prominent ranking reflects the star power of the people therein, and is a sign – if any were needed – of the dramatic influence wielded by well-known celebrities on Instagram. The social platform’s biggest users include Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, the Kardashian clan and Justin Bieber, each of whom have tens of millions of followers. Their presence brings a sense of exclusivity which brand names can channel in their own posts, attracting huge audiences and greater visibility.

Not one to be outdone, Adele features in the fourth biggest post for this period as March’s Vogue cover star. Notably, the magazine is adept at using its feed to drive traffic to its website. Several of the images and videos uploaded for this period are outtakes from a gallery or longer feature on the website. This trend is interesting, as it reflects a wider tendency among publishers on Instagram to use the platform to expand on features or reporting.
Vogue’s posts include links to list-oriented pieces on the best fashion Instagrams of the week and Valentine’s looks, among others. There’s almost a collaborative element to this trend, as the magazine’s use of visuals from Instagram allows it to access rich imagery for its website, while driving clicks and referrals back to the platform itself.

Among the other names, Vanity Fair is the first to break into Vogue’s ranks. Its photo of actors Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lawrence generated over 23,500 interactions – again underlining the influence of star power, while also linking back to a longer feature on the publication’s website. A number of Cosmopolitan posts also feature in the top 25, including this tongue-in-cheek edit of Zac Efron for Valentine’s Day and a photo of Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift arriving at the Grammys.

Are they not the cutest? @selenagomez @taylorswift #grammys ? @gettyimages Link in bio for all the red carpet looks!
A photo posted by Cosmopolitan (@cosmopolitan) on

Swift and Gomez have two of the most-followed accounts on Instagram and their reach is colossal. Almost all the publications in this list included a shot of the two arriving at the Grammys on their Instagram feeds. It makes for Harper’s Bazaar’s only post in the top 50 pieces of content for this period, while a shot of Swift collecting Album of the Year is Glamour’s sole post in the top 50. ELLE, for its part, just broke into the top 50 with a birthday post for Jennifer Aniston earning 15,688 engagements.

#HBD to #JenniferAniston, who was #hairgoals before #hairgoals was even a thing.

A photo posted by Elle Magazine (@elleusa) on

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Average Engagements

Breaking down the rankings by average engagements can provide a little more insight into strategy. By this metric, Vogue magazine still comes out on top. It posted 18 times during this period and earned an average of 83 and a half thousand engagements on each post. It’s interesting to compare this with other names on the list, some of whom posted up to 60 times yet generated nowhere near the same level of interaction.

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One notable change in the rankings is Vanity Fair’s placing – ranked by average engagements, it was the third biggest publication for this period and earned an average of 10,164 engagements on each post (21 posts in total – the third fewest).

Cosmopolitan posted the most amount of content, with 60 updates during this period. After that, ELLE posted 55 times and Glamour 52, while Allure posted the least with 14 pieces.


Instagram is known for glossy, aspirational fashion content. It rewards rich, high-quality visuals and users tend to take a lighter approach than on other social channels. All of this is evident here, with the platform’s simplicity allowing publications to focus on aesthetics while also driving traffic to a flagship website for more detailed features.
In addition, it’s easy to update, particularly during live events, and fashion publications have access to skilled photographers and (it goes without saying) photogenic subjects. As we noticed in our look at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show last year, backstage photos and videos provide an insider’s look which opens up the often inaccessible world of high fashion for users. This gives the account a lavish and aspirational feel, encouraging strong feedback and engagement.

We’ll be taking a more in-depth look at fashion brands and publishers on social on the blog soon. In the meantime, why not try Spike for free and keep track of the latest trends and stories in the fashion world?

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