— French Connection (@FCUK) April 16, 2013
When Vine, Twitter’s six-second, video-sharing app, launched earlier this year, a flurry of fashion content followed from brands as varied as Dolce & Gabbana, Calvin Klein and Burberry. Jump forwards a couple of months (and out of fashion week season), and content from those same designers has gone somewhat quiet – 78 days, 32 days and 20 days since they posted respectively.
What’s left however is a collection of brands that are working out how to use it more effectively. When the hype of a new platform inevitably subdues, sometimes it’s those that stick around and keep with it that end up the most successful, even if their path to get there is somewhat bumpier. Of course for fashion, the disconnect has been the distinct lack of control they are afforded in the app; Vine videos often look far more raw than the usual slick creative seen in the industry, and the logistics of posting is quite restricted.
Meagan Cignoli, a New York-based photographer who has made a name for herself for the stop motion work she is doing on the platform, says it’s for this exact reason however, that fashion should get stuck in. “[Brands] needs to let go a little and enjoy apps like Vine for what they are rather than trying to control the creative to such an extent that it loses its momentum,” she says.
She’s already been hired to create beautifully captivating Vines for big names including Puma, French Connection, Macy’s, Benefit Cosmetics, eBay Now and home stores like Lowe’s. I caught up with her to hear a little more about her thoughts on the platform and its application for this industry…
Your stop motion work on Vine is beautiful, how did it come about?
“Actually I’d never done it before. I shoot still, but I realised doing this on Vine is like shooting many many stills consecutively to create movement, so it was a very natural leap. Most of my inspiration comes from a still moment as a result. I think about something being really beautiful and then I make it move. I see a picture of a place, or a setting at a table, or a dress, and I think I can make that look really really cool if I move it around in a series of photos. It’s just a matter of readjusting them as you go, which is what photography is anyway really.
I get up to about 100-120 frames in each Vine I do, but I use my finger. You can apparently get up to 140-160 if you use a mouse or stylus.”
How did your brand partnerships first begin?
“I just started experimenting on Vine initially, and only a few months ago, but within the first week I got a call from Lowe’s. A lot of publicity followed that work, in Advertising Age and in The Wall Street Journal for instance. Since then I’ve had a different brand getting in touch with me every other day and wanting me to work on this advertising for them.
It’s a total dream come true because I’m given so much creative freedom. I’m not just coming up with the concepts but directing and shooting the Vines too. Every project is so different and that’s why it’s so fun right now.
French Connection’s PR team in London asked me to do it as a trial with just three Vines to begin, and people went crazy for it. It was a big learning experience for me – I’m used to working with a huge team and a big studio with stylists and the like, but with this I had to go and pick up the clothes from the store myself. I then had to shoot the thing alone as well. When I do my own Vines it’s a tiny space I’m operating in, using my own hands to adjust things. But once it gets bigger with items of clothing, I need the extra help. I quickly realised it was necessary to get a stylist and an assistant.”
Do you think all of the fashion industry should be thinking about Vine?
“I’m always so shocked that more companies aren’t doing it. They have accounts but they haven’t pushed it. It’s an incredible form of advertising and method of getting out there, so why wouldn’t you?
It’s so new and it’s rapidly moving – there are 2,500 Vines being uploaded per hour, and the people on it are just scrolling through it all day. The first minute I post I get 50 likes, that’s amazing to me. If your post becomes popular enough and gets picked up on Vine’s featured page, it’s like having a commercial all day that essentially you’re not paying for. There are roughly 40,000 people looking at that page every day at a minimum, I would say. And the content doesn’t change on it for 13 hours, so you just stay up there.
The issue is that it does take a level of commitment to do it properly – you need to be getting content out every week if not every day. French Connection and Puma are weekly deals for me. Other brands are just doing short campaigns, so a lot of content in a short amount of time and there’s a level of benefit to that too. But if you think about it, a TV commercial would run over and over and over; a Vine only has a span of half a day, so I can’t help thinking there’s more benefit in being in front of this audience on a daily basis.”
What do you think the restriction is for the fashion industry, how would you tell them to approach it?
“These brands have gone so long with everything having to be approved, checked and made sure it’s on-brand, it’s much harder for them to push out content on a daily basis. The way Vine is set up you have to upload immediately too, so that makes it more complicated.
They just need to let go a little and enjoy the app for what it is, the quickness and easiness of it. If they can find a way to do that, it’s going to be much more beneficial even if what’s going out isn’t always the most amazing piece of content.
Urban Outfitters for instance, doesn’t have the best, but they’re always doing them and it’s worked for them. Gap in comparison does beautiful Vines but you never see them because they’re not doing them enough. If they’re gorgeous but not so often, then they’re hidden away.”
How do you go about posting in a logistical sense considering Vine doesn’t allow you to save and publish at a later date?
“I shoot it on airplane mode, write the caption and save it to my photo gallery. I then send the file to whoever is my contact at the agency or brand. If they’re happy with it, I then switch back on and post it from there.
French Connection has been pretty good about me just uploading it. Puma is also incredible, saying I can just post as many as I want. Lowe’s in contrast flies in and every single one is approved. I then hold it on airplane mode and post the content a week later. I have five iPhones here as result, if I’m shooting multiple in one day then I have to have.”
Would you want them to change aspects of Vine to make this all easier then?
“If you could choose what to upload when, that would be great. So if I could shoot five at a time, then stagger when they post; because no one wants them to all go at once.
But I think it’s great that you can’t upload what you didn’t create in the app. These sort of strict guidelines as to what you can do is great, it’s like a game, you have to work against the rules. It’s hard if you’re not on Vine to understand what is a good Vine. Once you use it yourself and know how difficult it is, that it can crash or that you can’t edit it, then it becomes all the more challenging and more fun to do.”
Meagan is hosting an online class from May 29 with Skillshare, which will provide tips for others on how to create compelling stop motion work on Vine. The challenge will be focused on “animating your wardrobe”.
Below is a continued selection of both her own Vine posts and those for numerous brands, as well as a video of several of them tied together. Be sure to look out for more of her work for French Connection and Puma going live on Vine throughout this week too.