Instagram is changing the way we live. The art world talks about it as if it was one of the world's most influential dealers as more and more art is discovered, shared and effectively sold through this social media platform. Even the Vatican has jumped on the bandwagon. Back in March, the Pope launched his own Instagram account under the name "Franciscus". Within one hour of launching, and with only one post of himself — the slightly selfish caption "Pray for me" (no emoticons, sadly), he already had more than 100,000 followers.
How we discover new fashion brands, and new ways of dressing, is increasingly influenced by the feeds we follow. For instance, if Taylor Swift posts a picture of herself wearing an Ashish dress to an awards ceremony, a hefty chunk of her 70m followers are going to check out the label. If you follow Tommy Ton, the street-style photographer, the chances are you may be influenced by a post of a guy in New York looking cool in a souvenir jacket and you'll then consider buying something similar yourself (they are on-trend this summer). You can basically sit in the front row of the fashion shows by following the editors of Esquire; and many of those fashion shows have catwalk sets that are designed to look better on Instagram. Some fashion brands now post pictures on Instagram of outfits they're still working on to test the number of likes they get before ordering quantities to sell in stores.
Of course, the irresistible desire to over-share, show off and communicate with others with as little effort and as many filters as possible (how much easier it is to post a picture of a bunch of flowers and a thumbs-up emoticon than to write a thank-you letter) appeals to the vanity and slob in all of us. And Instagram, with its 300m users, cleverly ticks both those boxes, designed to make us obsessively return to see who's liked which of our pictures the most — in my case, dogs and landscapes prove far more popular than clothes and people (which must mean I'm mostly followed by nanas).
if we're not careful, we won't only be influenced by Instagram, we will be wearing it.
The reason I mention all this is that, looking through many of the menswear collections, it seems that Instagram is having another, even more obvious effect on what we'll be wearing this summer. A large number of designers are producing clothes that have pictures on them; basically, if we're not careful, we won't only be influenced by Instagram, we will be wearing it.
Of course, images on T-shirts are no new thing, but the last few years have seen this trend move from the preserve of Camden Market and the pavements outside gig venues to big designer brands. This summer, you've got T-shirts with Seventies-inspired sunsets at Saint Laurent (could be straight from an Instagram holiday pic), painterly florals at Gucci and Valentino, Dali-esque eyes at Dries Van Noten, pastoral scenes at Comme des Garçons and religious icons at Givenchy.
But it's the move from images on T-shirts to other garments that is more interesting. Shorts and swimwear have proved a popular canvas: Orlebar Brown has them printed with Slim Aarons' shots of a villa in Mustique; Onia has some featuring Nasa space photographs, while Vilebrequin's are plastered with sketches of Paris.
And your Insta-wear is not confined to the beach: you can buy cotton voile shirts featuring photographs of Marilyn Monroe at Dries Van Noten, or shirts featuring blurred florals at Oliver Spencer (he obviously didn't use the sharpen image button on his app). Raf Simons' sweatshirts feature the photos of David Sims, while Givenchy's have images of Jesus (soon to be re-grammed by Franciscus, I imagine).
Then there's the aforementioned souvenir jackets bedecked in images of birds, flowers and tigers by everyone from Gucci and Valentino to Saint Laurent and Van Noten (again). Even shoes get the treatment: pineapples are on them at Valentino; palm prints at Marc Jacobs; and toucans at Etro.
It appears that you can now not only live your life through a lens, but dress through one, too. The only question is what filter to choose. I'm furious to discover that since beginning this column two hours ago, His Holiness has added another 178,000 followers. And that his rather predictable, kneeling-at-prayer shot has gained him over 270,000 likes in total. Forget dogs and landscapes, I'm off to church to take a selfie.