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A Hot Take on Fashion and Social Media

Fiona O'Grady from H&M at the Community Leadership Summit #2

Fiona O'Grady is digital relations manager at H&M New Business.

In this hot take on the fashion industry at the Community Leadership Summit #2, Fiona reflects on her own background as a fashion blogger and our desire to feel validated by our communities.


I'm Fiona. I am originally from Ireland, but I have a confession to make. I work in fashion, which is quite a hot topic.

I’m a recovering fashion blogger. I've been on the Internet for a really long time. I've been sharing outfits and I've been in fashion communities since I was in university 15 years ago. So I feel like I know a bit about fashion communities.

The thing with fashion is that people have mixed opinions about it. In this talk I'm just going to have a hot take. Basically I’m going to share a very not thought through thought on something. Hopefully I’m gonna have a good not thought through thought on the future of social media.

The desire to feel validated by your community

I've been working with a lot of communities. I used to be head of social media at a brand called Monki and I worked with a #community. What was so fascinating about it was the idea of social currency, of how you wear your clothes and what the value of it is. It's really interesting because, fun fact, the sale of earrings has gone up in the past five years because people take so many selfies.

The value of social media as a currency is just going to go up as we become more connected to the Internet. The price of an influencer post, or just a regular person on the Internet, has such a value and it's so important for people like me to feel a little bit validated on the Internet and in my online community.

Your personal brand in a community

Something else that's really fascinating is the concept of a personal brand and what your personal brand is within a community. I'll use myself as an example. I only wear color. I don't own many black clothes. Recently I bought a black jumpsuit and I sent a picture to 10 of my close friends on Instagram, in the close friend section on Instagram, and I said, fuck, I'm buying black clothes, am I broken?

Wearing colored clothes is so deeply part of my personal brand and this whole idea is gonna latch on to how we connect in fashion communities. How we present ourselves is just going to get bigger and bigger. I have this prediction that it's going to be a whole emperor's new clothes thing. To the point of everyone just being a little bit naked using VR filter to get dressed.

The demand for transparency

Something else I've really been thinking abou is how we buy and the actual process of fashion itself. I've had a lot of really amazing conversations with people here today, people who are like “fashion, it's interesting, but sustainability?” With that, I think what I've seen is a shift and I'm on the inside of a brand and I've seen a shift in people. Fashion is not perfect, but what was really interesting about the Zalando talk was the incremental change. This is something I can see and I think it's really important and there's transparency from brands and the actions brands take are so important.

This is how community has such a big effect with fashion and social media. There's an Instagram account called Diet Prada and they call out people on copying and now they are the people that people go to for news within fashion communities. You go to Diet Prada to check if someone has been accused of copying something.

It's really about the transparency of things. Not just about who designs things, but it's also about where things are made. People are calling brands out and it's a good thing. And I'm an angry person on the inside of a brand being like, “hey guys, listen up”. That is something that I feel is going to be so pertinent. How can brands be better?

People are going to keep taking pictures, going to stores and wondering if they should buy a black jumpsuit. People are still going to think about how they're going to look and feel validated, but also there's going to be a higher value on the actual feel good factor with it.

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