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September 29, 2021

Every year — well, minus 2020 — the Met Gala takes the fashion world by storm. With both impressive and wholly uninspiring looks on the table at last week’s event, social media has been abuzz with commentary ever since. Even those of us uninterested in fashion have seen the more shocking ensembles.

Looking at you, Kim K. 

But this year, viewers have noticed a shift. Usually a secretive, glamorous, and elite event, this year’s gala felt all the more accessible. Flooded with Gen Z influencers, TikTokers and Olympians, some critics have even taken the stance that it’s cheapening what was once a prestigious event.

What’s interesting is that Instagram had an extreme influence at the event this year. Coincidence? I think not.

First and foremost, the ‘Gram sponsored this year’s event and planned a host of collaborations around it. They brought in an official Meme Correspondent, held influencer viewing parties, and perhaps most interestingly, partnered with Vogue and the Met itself to make this year’s looks shoppable on its platform.

Kicking off this collab, Instagram held its first live shopping event with designer Virgil Abloh, founder of the label Off-White. Continuing the buzz far past the one-day event, the collab will hold monthly drops of limited-edition products through April 2022, all held through the Met Store, i.e. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s retail branch. Users can shop via the Met Store’s Instagram page for a limited time from each drop, or in the event of unsold product, from the Met Store or online branch as well. 

This is obviously a first for the retailer, but perhaps wouldn’t have been successful in any other climate. This year, Met Gala content from Vogue drew 192.6 million views across its social platforms. People were hungry for Met-related content, with livestream traffic numbers noting huge growth from 2019 (2020’s event was canceled). And with a gala full of influencers, a table sponsored by YouTube, and the head of Instagram serving as an honorary chair of the event, no one can deny the evidence of social media seeping into our culture. Instagram shopping could even be the key to integrating the two worlds of fashion and social media, representing what’s to come in the future. So a lesson to our retailer friends: it’s best to start embracing it.

But for us, the average Joes who don’t care about the prestigious status of the invite list, this is great news! We can watch the event live, hear the inside scoop, participate in its interactive events, and even shop the runway all thanks to social media. It’s a day and age where the red carpet seems more accessible than ever before.

To all the fashion enthusiasts and artistic connoisseurs: does this cheapen the prestigious nature of the event? To me, it’s as glamorous as ever, and this time we can all buy a little piece of the event for ourselves. Prestigious? Maybe. Successful? We’ll find out. 

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Amy Burke

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