The new trend stems from Instagram, mostly among the middle-aged aiming at being trendy. Returnable Insta-fashions is self-explanatory: purchasing new clothes online, snapping a shot in them and then returning the items.
The practice of ordering clothes for the sole purpose of posting an “outfit of the day” picture on Instagram is becoming increasingly common. The #OOTD tag regroups over 200 million public posts on Instagram, with various similar hashtags, e.g. #ootdfashion or #ootdmen, linking to a couple million public posts.
Research from Barclaycard found that nearly 10% of online shoppers in the United Kingdom have purchased clothing online for a social media post, before returning the goods. Men and Women aged 35 to 44 are more likely to participate in the trend, as 17% of shoppers in this demographic admitted to Insta-returns. Surprisingly, more men engaged in this trend than women, with 10% of men stating they would be embarrassed to be seen wearing the same outfit twice, against 7% of women.
“Try before you buy” policies may have a role to play in this trend. As e-commerce retailers have made it easier for customers to try on their clothes before buying, consumers have gotten increasingly comfortable taking them up on that offer. The evolution of the old scheme where someone would hide tags on an expensive fashion item in order to wear it an event, only to return it afterwards.
“It’s interesting to see the social media trend further fueling the returns culture. We know from our research that returns are having a big impact on retailers, with a huge figure of £7bn a year in sales that they potentially can’t recognize,” said George Allardice, head of strategy at Barclaycard Payment Solutions. “Retailers are adopting new processes to make returns easier, as they know how important this is to customers.”