In Milan, Dolce & Gabbana’s bid to tap into the millennial mind through hashtags and the inclusion of celebrity-spawn/models like Braison Cyrus (Miley’s brother, 444,000 followers) and Sistine Stallone (Sylvester’s daughter, 438,000 followers) paid off, and the label claimed the crown for the most likes and comments from June 16 to 20.
To be fair, some of the comments were negative, after Raury, a musician walking in the show (162,000 followers), scrawled messages of protest on his chest after he learned of the designers’ support of Melania Trump. Miley Cyrus (68.9 million followers) also posted a criticism of the label’s politics on her Instagram account, prompting a rebuke from Stefano Gabbana (one million followers).
Emporio Armani came in second for interactions, a win most likely carried by the nearly 23 million followers of Shawn Mendes, the pop star who showed off the EA Connected smartwatch at the end of the runway show. His campaign photo for that product was the most-liked image posted on any designer account during Milan Fashion Week.
Following the top two in Milan were Versace, whose collection alluded to the silk shirts and prints from the label’s ’90s men’s-wear heyday; Prada, where comic panels covered both the clothes and the walls; and Philipp Plein, whose show featured Jeremy Meeks, formerly known on the internet as “the hot felon” (1.1 million followers).
“Philipp Plein is always a feast for the senses,” Ms. Chen said. “It’s true to his heritage. I would never say that’s the right path for every fashion brand.”
At the Pitti Uomo men’s wear exhibition in Florence, Italy, the winner for most interactions was Off-White, the label run by Virgil Abloh (783,000 followers), whose collaborators have included Kanye West (no Instagram), Theophilus London (195,000 followers) and Moncler. Mr. Abloh worked with the artist Jenny Holzer (no Instagram) to project poems written by refugees onto the facade of the Palazzo Pitti, as models walked in his new collection. The setup seemed tailored for Instagram, where an image from the show garnered the most likes of all the Pitti Uomo designers accounts during the four-day event.
Off-White was followed by J.W. Anderson, whose designer, Jonathan Anderson, has 184,000 followers of his own, and Hugo Boss, which showed a Basquiat-inspired collection in the narrow courtyard of a Fascist Party-era tobacco factory.
Four of the top five names for interactions in London were relative newcomers or unknowns, a result of large brands like Burberry no longer putting on runway shows during London Fashion Week Men’s.
“London is a market for emerging designers,” Ms. Chen said. “It rewards the experimental. People on Instagram expect that from London.”
The designers that had the most interactions, in order from second to fifth: A-Cold-Wall, where Samuel Ross, Mr. Abloh’s former assistant (31,000 followers), riffed on blue-collar uniforms; Topman, whose presentation included an exhibition, a film and an installation; Kiko Kostadinov, where the theme was “murderous transgression”; and Charles Jeffrey, where performers dressed in costumes made of cardboard boxes, and models wore clown makeup.
And though Kent & Curwen did not crack the top five, it did take the top spot for most followers gained during London Fashion Week Men’s, a boost most likely driven by David Beckham (38.1 million followers), one of the label’s owners, whose preview post of the collection garnered 942,000 views.
But the overall winner for London, for the number of interactions and the most popular designer photo, was no small fry at all. It was Dame Vivienne Westwood, who filled her runway with rappers, dancers, contortionists and clowns, and stuck garbage to her models to make a point about climate change and recycling.
Her Instagram popularity showed that even on the app, a space where the new and unknown can thrive, a tried-and-true formula still applies: Combine spectacle with brand history and you have a marketing success.