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Instagram’s transformation of the fashion industry continues

Matthew Noszka thought he was getting scammed. The 21-year-old Pittsburg college student had just been approached, via Instagram, by someone claiming to be with one of the top modeling agencies in the world. He did some digging and verified that, yes, Luke Simone was actually who he said he was—an agent with Wilhelmina. A month later, Noszka is a hot commodity in New York fashion circles and his life is radically different.

Simone told Cosmopolitan that he had never scouted a model on the social network before but that he began using the photo-sharing platform for business because it “allows you to really see someone’s personality.”

Others in the industry have also begun to embrace Instagram as a supplement to traditional scouting methods because in it they see a more immediate, personal and efficient way of discovering talent.

Mary Clarke, co-owner of Mother Model Management in St. Louis, recently told a local newscast that the use of Instagram in the industry was “escalating.”

Discovering models on Instagram isn’t a new concept, but the idea of mining it for talent as a long-term strategy is. Until recently, attempts to leverage the platform were tailored to one-off contests or brand-specific campaigns.

Earlier this year, for example, designer Marc Jacobs encouraged people to post a picture of themselves to Instagram with #CastMeMarc for a chance to be in his fall campaign. The result? Nearly 70,000 submissions, of which nine were chosen.

ASOS also used an Instagram contest to cast one of their Curve Models. Lauren Punter was chosen from more than 2,000 entries after taking a shot of herself and posting with #MakeMeACurveModel.

Of course, Instagram’s impact on fashion isn’t limited to models.  From runway shows and new forms of customer engagement to styling and design, there is a complex web of components that keeps the industry chugging along. Nothing in the industry is immune to Instagram’s effects.

The New York Times did a good job of pinpointing the overall influence to-date of the photo-sharing platform while attending New York’s Fashion Week this past spring.

“Nearly every show attendee, from the front row to the standing section, now arrives with phone in hand and Instagram account primed,” wrote the Times.

“This is fashion in the age of Instagram, a heady era in which digital media is changing the way clothes are presented and even the way they are designed.”

Tiziana Cardini, the fashion director of the Milanese department store chain La Rinascente and a contributing editor at Vogue Italia, explained how Instagram was not only influencing the operational aspect of the industry, but the very creativity on which it relies.

“I see that designers, especially young designers, are considering the shapes and volumes in a totally different way; the colors, also. I think they pay much more attention to the photogenic value of an outfit.”