Now you see it, now you don't.
This sums up what Snapchat, fashion's latest social media obsession, is all about.
The app allows users to upload photos or videos, each post lasting 10 seconds or less. Posts that are made public on the Stories feature on the app are available for viewing for 24 hours only.
Since last year, a growing number of tastemakers have started using the photo-sharing app. This means that fashion fans have an additional platform, aside from Instagram, for insider access to fashion events.
With Fashion Week ongoing, Snapchat has been filled with photos and videos uploaded by fashion editors and bloggers. Paris Fashion Week, the last of the four major fashion weeks, ends next Wednesday.
Unlike Instagram, Snapchat is not about being picture perfect. There are very few editing tools, the most popular being the doodle tool, which results in casual photographs that are part of Snapchat's fun appeal. Photos and videos have to be shot using the app, which means that external editing tools cannot be used either.
It also demands full concentration from the user. To view "snaps", a finger has to be placed on the screen in order for photos and videos to show - remove it and the content disappears.
Founded in 2011 by Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, the app is more popular among teens. More than 500 million public "snaps" are viewed every day.
Popular fashion blogger Aimee Song of Song of Style (www.songofstyle.com) is among the group of style stars using the platform. She recently made her account public and uploads up to 10 photos and videos a day.
Her Instagram and Snapchat accounts offer two different perspectives.
On Instagram, she showcases her girly grunge, California-cool style through photos that look good enough to be in a magazine. The content on her Instagram account is closely linked to her blog.
But on Snapchat, Song shows a more candid side to her life and even uploads photos and videos that are unflattering.
"I don't edit myself on Snapchat," Song tells Urban in an e-mail interview.
Lucky's editor-in-chief Eva Chen uses her Snapchat account (theevachen212) to share snippets of fashion shows, as well as more personal moments such as the birth of her daughter.
"All those food pictures that you might think are Instagram overshare, the not-quite-perfect (blurry) shots of landscape - those are all going on my Snapchat. In general, I see it as a more 'real' slice of my life. Instagram is more polished (or at least I try to have it be), whereas Snapchat is a bit sillier," writes Chen on the website of Lucky, a shopping-focused magazine.
Social media strategist Laila Lu says that Chen is what got her onto the platform.
"I love how raw Snapchat is and how shaky some of the videos are. It is as though what I'm viewing is happening in real time," says the 24-year-old Singaporean, who also runs the fashion blog Rock The Trend.
EVOLVING INTO A MARKETING TOOL
To tap its personal, fun and unedited take on things, brands have also started exploring the use of Snapchat for marketing and branding.
At the recent New York Fashion Week, American brand Michael Kors uploaded exclusive backstage and runway images from its fall 2015 show.
The brand does not have an account currently, but images were uploaded directly by Snapchat into a Fashion Week news feed.
"Snapchat provided a unique opportunity to take our All Access Kors strategy a step further - allowing us to share intimate, behind- the-scenes moments from our runway show with fans all around the world," says Ms Lisa Pomerantz, senior vice-president of global communications and marketing at Michael Kors.
The edgy brand Opening Ceremony also got in on the action by sharing its designs on Snapchat during New York Fashion Week.
Beauty store Sephora uses its Snapchat accounts (sephorasnaps and sephorascandi) to give users in the United States and Scandinavia a sneak peek of new products. It also conducts occasional giveaways through the app.
Mr Ghislain Labay, digital coordinator of Sephora Europe, says the app helps to target a younger audience through a "funnier editorial voice" and complements its other social media accounts.
There are currently no plans for a Singapore-based Snapchat account.
Although marketing on Snapchat is still in its infancy stages, experts say that the app provides huge potential for the fashion industry.
"The disappearing nature of Snapchat messages can also make messages more engaging, in the same sort of way that limited-time sales and 'while stocks last' initiatives appeal to people's 'kiasuism'," says Mr Simon Kemp, regional managing partner of social media consulting firm We Are Social.
Ms Caitlin Nguyen, regional business director of Digital Rezonance, a digital marketing company, says Snapchat can be a more effective marketing platform as a user has to press on the screen in order to view content.
"This is different from advertising on Facebook (and soon Instagram). On these platforms the consumer can 'like' or 'follow' a brand, but he doesn't have to do more to see the content," says Ms Nguyen.
"Branded content on Snapchat offer one-to-one interactions, thus a more personal and exclusive experience," she adds.
As it stands, Instagram will not be going anywhere, but the rise of Snapchat is a trend in fashion to watch.
(Photo credit: Snapchat of Songofstyle)
See a different side of American fashion blogger Aimee Song on Snapchat.
While her Instagram photos are magazine-worthy, Snapchat is where Song shows a crazier side to herself.
A recent video saw her trying to get out of a locked stairwell. Luckily for this girl, she looks good even with seaweed stuck between her teeth.
(Photo credit: Sephorasnaps)
At the recent New York Fashion Week, beauty store Sephora used Snapchat to take followers behind the scenes for some hair and make-up action.
The retailer also conducts giveaways through its Snapchat account; unfortunately these giveaways are not available to Singapore residents.
(Photo credit: Manrepeller)
Fashion's funny lady Leandra Medine, founder of fashion blog Man Repeller, brings her self-deprecating brand of humour onto Snapchat.
Spot her fooling around while in the office and making funny faces on Snapchat.
At the recent New York Fashion Week, she followed J.Crew's executive creative director Jenna Lyons backstage and gave followers an advance glimpse of the brand's presentation. In typical J.Crew style, the collection was filled with elevated classics.
(Photo credit: Snapchat of theevachen212)
Based on observation, Lucky's editor-in-chief Eva Chen is one of Snapchat's most active users. She mixes both fashion and personal moments with flair, picking truly interesting personal memories, such as the birth of her daughter and dates with her husband, to share on the application. Here she does not appear to be your larger-than-life fashion insider.
(Photo credit: Snapchat of Alluremag)
Get an insider's view at product launches and backstage access on beauty magazine Allure's account.
During the recent Milan Fashion Week, the Allure team snuck up behind Emilio Pucci's creative director, Peter Dundas, at what was perhaps his last show for the brand.
(Photo credit: Snapchat of Styledotcom)
Fashion website Style.com expanded its fashion week coverage this season by launching a Snapchat account last month.
Filled mainly with videos, its fashion market director Rachael Wang, who is currently running the account, also provides brief commentaries on the collections.
(Photo credit: Snapchat of Sophiawebster)
As fans would expect, shoe designer Sophia Webster's account is as whimsical as her shoes. Catch her strutting around London in her brightly coloured creations.
(Photo credit: Snapchat of Ireneisgood)
Known for her pastel-coloured hair, the South Korea-based TV personality and model Irene Kim shows off her jet-setting lifestyle on Snapchat.
She was among the star-studded crowd at Tommy Hilfiger's spectacular fall/winter show. The catwalk was turned into a football field and models were decked out in their collegiate best.
There were plenty of mohair varsity sweaters, pleated skirts and bomber jackets.
(Photo credit: Snapchat of Thecoveteur)
Founded by Stephanie Mark, Jake Rosenberg and Erin Kleinberg, fashion blog The Coveteur (www.thecoveteur.com) explores the closets of global tastemakers. Its Snapchat account is an extension of the blog.
(Photo credit: Snapchat of Thezoereport)
Fashion and lifestyle blog The Zoe Report (www.thezoereport.com) was founded by fashion stylist and designer Rachel Zoe. Its Snapchat account is run by the blog's editors and features things in fashion which make them tick.
Snap like a pro
Here is how to make your "snaps" more interesting, plus tips for using the app.
1. Each post is visible for up to 10 seconds, but not everything needs to be that long.
A 10-second photo of your new lipstick may lose your viewer's interest; four seconds is probably just about right.
2. Show your personality by doodling on your posts.
3. If you are writing on your posts, write big, so your thoughts can be read in seconds.
4. To view all the photos and videos that someone has uploaded, keep your finger on the screen. To skip an image, use another finger to tap on the screen.
5. Don't know if your favourite fashion blogger is on Snapchat? It seems that most of them have used their Instagram usernames for Snapchat, so you can try searching for them that way.
6. Paris Fashion Week is on till next Wednesday, so you can expect plenty of updates on Snapchat in addition to Instagram.
Judging by the other fashion weeks, a feed should automatically be available in the Live section of Snapchat.
This article was first published on Mar 6, 2015.
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