When Coco Rocha started modeling nearly 10 years ago, digital photography wasn’t the norm, and social media as we know it didn’t exist. But as a young model, Rocha realized the importance of sharing her experiences in the world of high fashion, seemingly untouchable to the mass consumer. A master of more than 10 social media platforms, and one of our favorite Instagram feeds, Rocha shared her thoughts on social media, how she started a blog, and why Square makes sense for models.
Decoded Fashion: How did you become interested in social media?
Coco Rocha: I remember hearing about these things called “blogs” early in my career. I started one of my own with the goal of keeping friends and family back home in Vancouver updated on my adventures in New York, London, Paris, and Milan. At that time, very few people were blogging from inside the world of high fashion, and I found it was getting a lot of attention from an audience much bigger than my friends and family. People all over the world were checking in. That was a really empowering thing for me because I realized I had a voice and that others were listening.
I found myself starting out in the industry at the right time to take advantage of this new digital world. Ever since, the idea of cultivating an audience, whether it be for promoting charity or just promoting my clients, has seemed like a good idea for me as a model.
DF: Many people claim they don’t have time for social media as an excuse for not participating. How do you find the time to post to tumblr, Tweet, Instagram, etc?
CR: I view my social media it as an important part of my job, so I find the time for it whether I feel like it or not. Its become an important part of my relationship with my clients that I promote my work with them. Connecting with fans is almost as if I have my own focus group. I view modeling as a performance art and so if I put up one picture that gets 1000 likes and one that gets 15,000 likes, it gives me a big clue as to what people enjoy seeing from me. I’m always amazed to check my twitter feed or facebook page and see someone from half the world away reaching out to say they enjoyed my work, or even that they hated it!
For a long time, I think fashion was seen as this untouchable world only for the elite. The fact that on a whole, the industry is embracing social media is proof that hopefully the pendulum is now swinging away from that attitude. More than ever before people want to be and expect to be a part of this world, and I’m happy to have been here as we usher in a more inclusive attitude from within the industry.
DF: What do you feel is the best social media platform for you personally?
CR: It’s hard to say because I get something different from all of them. I get the most feedback from Instagram, where I find people are very vocal and interactive. As far as social media goes, I don’t think any one platform has been as well received or well suited to the fashion industry as Instagram. At its most basic, fashion is a visual world and people find that inspiration all around them each and every day. Zac Posen, for example, uses Instagram masterfully to show his life, his work and his inspiration.
Twitter has always been great way to get important messages out very fast. It has also been a great way for me to network with others in my industry; I even get to reach out to the legends who I admire like Cindy Crawford!
The app Pose makes a lot of sense for me as a model. I think the rise of street-style photography has shown us there’s a huge audience of people interested in what others are wearing out and about. Pose is great because it allows each user to show the world their personal style and tag each piece of clothing with correct brand names. Users can also click through to actually buy everything they see. The idea is a good business model for young fashionistas, and a new legitimate way to monetize on social media.
DF: I’m really impressed by your Tweet sharing a Mashable article about Instagram (here). What would you change about Instagram if you could?
CR: I think it would be great to be able to add location tags to images retroactively. Personally, I often feel uncomfortable tagging my location at the time I’m there because I have had awkward occasions where some weird person tracked me down from a Instagram I posted. Perhaps they could make it so the geo tag is on some kind of delay? I would also love for instagram to play nice with twitter again. I think it was ridiculous that the two are no longer integrated, what a waste. We live in a world that needs to find more ways to interconnect, not less!
DF: What are some other types of tech, besides social media, that you find useful to fashion? This could be a certain app, software that helps streamline business, in-store display tech, etc.
CR: My friend Jack Dorsey developed Square which is a revolutionary, free device that allows anyone to accept credit card payments through their cell phone or tablet. It levels the playing field for everyone. You’re probably asking yourself, why would a model care about Square? Well, we like to get paid too! I have jobs I did for major magazines and designers in 2006 and 2007 that I still have not been paid for. When Jack first explained this project to me the first thing I thought was how amazing Square would be for the next generation of models who are often times living from job to job. Want me to walk your runway? Just be ready with your credit card when I step off.
DF: How do you see tech revolutionizing fashion?
CR: Iris van Herpen has been pioneering the use of 3-D printing in fashion for a few years now and with really amazing results. I’m hoping others in the industry take note and explore the possibilities! I find Iris’ work with 3-D printing technology more of a hybrid of architecture and sculpture than anything. It’s really amazing to see shapes and designs that were previously incomprehensible are now possible. I also think that laser-etched clothing will allowing designers the ability to create patterns in fabric that would have been impossible to do by hand. It’s like moving from finger painting to working with a fine sable hair paint brush.
Designers today have some unbelievable tools at their fingertips. Basically if they can conceptualize it, they can make it.
Coco Rocha will be speaking on the future of fashion and technology at the Decoded Fashion Forum at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Follow her @cocorocha
Stay tuned for Coco’s top social media tips, coming next Tuesday.