Fashion brands have long made a home of Instagram’s square grid, embellishing their feeds with visuals of their collections, campaigns and creative projects.

Countless have even gone live, offering a screen-sized window into their fashion shows — but does that make Instagram worthy of being a new fashion capital, alongside Paris, Milan and New York?

Harris Reed thinks so. The London-based designer, a favourite of Harry Styles, has unveiled their graduate collection on the social media platform. That they went digital comes as no surprise: many of the aforementioned cities are now doing the same for the upcoming Fashion Weeks, as a result of social distancing measures. Unlike former Central Saint Martins (CSM) students like Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney, Reed wouldn’t have been able to show at their school’s celebrated graduation show either — it was cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But despair is not in the designer’s vernacular. Instead, creativity is, as evident in Reed’s Instagram page. There, their collection, “Thriving in Our Outrage”, is presented in a series of videos that reflect the designer’s flamboyant, genderfluid style. In them, the 24-year-old models their final-year creations: tailoring with a ’70s swagger that you could imagine their client, Styles, performing in; ’50s-style ballgowns buoyed by crinolines wide enough to respect social distancing guidelines; and plenty of platform boots.

One of two virtual looks from Reed's graduate collection. (Photo credit: Harris Reed / Instagram)
One of two virtual looks from Reed’s graduate collection. (Photo credit: Harris Reed / Instagram)

The collection, for all its frills and feathers, was entirely made under lockdown in Reed’s London apartment. That was also the stage for their virtual runway, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from the fantastical hand-painted sets made by illustrator Lukas Palumbo, which were brought to life by animator Lauren Deane Hunter. Reed also had assistance from fellow CSM student Bella Thomas in shooting the looks, two of which are entirely virtual.

Speaking of virtual, Reed also debuted an Instagram filter of their signature wide-brim hat, which was then “worn” by the likes of Kaia Gerber, Kiernan Shipka and Maggie Rogers. (Solange Knowles had sported the hat before too but in real life.) Variations of the hat also appeared in Reed’s collection.

While fashion brands had previously tweaked their fashion shows to be Instagram-worthy, Reed’s presentation was truly made for the ‘gram; it could not exist anywhere else. That’s exactly what Instagram hopes will be the future of Fashion Week, having recently released a guide to hosting digital fashion shows on the app.

It might be a reality sooner than you think, what with digital fashion shows fast becoming a norm. One was recently held on Animal Crossing (yes, the video game), while another, led by fashion editor Carine Roitfeld, was launched on Youtube even earlier. Going digital is also what local design schools like Lasalle College of the Arts have opted for, revealing that it had already been planning to replace the traditional runway show format with “a digital experience”.

Could the digital experience really be for the best? If it looks anything like what Reed has done, it might be. As to whether Instagram should be the go-to platform for it, we’ll just have to wait for the Spring/Summer 2021 shows in September to see what fashion’s biggest brands think.

Header image courtesy of Harris Reed on Instagram.

Pameyla Cambe
Senior Writer
Pameyla Cambe is a fashion and jewellery writer who believes that style and substance shouldn't be mutually exclusive. She makes sense of the world through Gothic novels, horror films and music. Lots of music.