What Do Designers Think About Instagram’s New Shoppability Feature?

Screengrabs from Instagram.
Screengrabs from Instagram.
Courtesy of brand.

Could Instagram soon become shoppable? Earlier this month, the application began testing a system that allows brands to add external links to their posts. This means that consumers can be directed straight from Instagram to labels’ online shops.

In an extension of the tagging icon that users currently recognize, shoppable posts have a “tap to view” icon at the bottom left. When it’s activated, tags showcasing prices appear on products within the post. Select the tag, and a new detailed view will open with a “shop now” link to the relevant e-tail site.

This new functionality is available to a control group in the U.S. with 20 partner brands including Coach, J.Crew, Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Shopbop, Kate Spade and Jack Threads, where a $65 pair of Vans classic checkerboard sneakers is a subject of the trial.

The app has not committed to a timescale, and an Instagram spokesperson declined to comment on whether brands would be required to pay for the service. (The labels involved in the tryout have not contributed financially.) “The plan is to expand to additional brands and industries as we learn more from this early test,” says a spokesperson.

But what do other footwear labels think? Footwear News spoke to various brands on both sides of the Atlantic,  and the response is, by and large, a positive one.

“Anything that creates newness and excitement and responds more quickly to the consumer is a great idea,” said Sam Edelman. “She wakes up to Instagram and goes to sleep to Instagram, so it’s a great opportunity. I’ll absolutely be getting on board.”

“If you could just hit ‘buy,’ it would be a great service for the consumer and our brand. As soon as it’s available I’d definitely use it — it totally makes sense,” added Nicholas Kirkwood.

It’s not just the young guns who approve. Veteran cobbler Manolo Blahnik, who has used Instagram to fuel excitement about collaborations with Vetements and Rihanna, is also a fan. “Lately we’ve been doing great of amount business [that stems from] social media; I enjoy it,” he said. “I would like to be much more involved.”

Pierre Hardy is more cautious about Instagram’s shoppable feature. “I don’t know yet. It fits for a certain type of brand, but it’s the beginning, so you have to experiment,” the designer said. The difficulty for smaller brands, he noted, is that “it’s another job on top of everything else.”

The newer emerging labels are most likely to embrace the functionality. “Instagram certainly helps to drive sales,” said Alexia Aubert, the designer behind cult Parisian label Soloviere, “so being able to shop there directly would be like a cherry on the cake.” She added that it would also be a great advantage for labels who don’t invest in editorial advertising.

“Instagram has become a great way for people to discover new brands,” says François du Chastel, founder of slipper label Chatelles Paris. He likens the app to the fashion equivalent of Google. “The new functionality will enable us to get direct ROI from the images we share,” the former banker added, “and adapt our offer accordingly from those statistics.” The boon for the customer, according to du Chastel, is a fully integrated shopping experience that’s much smoother and faster.

“We owe absolutely everything to Instagram,” said Valentina Bezuhanova, co-founder of By Far, the Bulgarian e-tailor that launched this summer. “It has allowed us to reach a place in four months that other brands haven’t reached in three years. People buy images, so Instagram is our main channel toward acquiring customers. Everything else, even the website, is an addition, so getting more of the features of a store and not just social is great.”

The shopability feature will be particularly relevant to the footwear market, she noted: “It will make emotional purchases even more instant, and women have a very emotional connection to their shoes.”