For three days in October, LVMH will be opening 56 of its Maisons to the public as part of the fourth iteration of Les Journées Particulières.
The program, which will span across four continents and 14 countries, aims to showcase the expertise and creativity of its many artisans, as well as reinforce the cultural heritage of the houses under the luxury group. In order to showcase their unique identities, Houses will host events such as workshops, tours and designer and artisan meet-and-greets.
“Les Journées Particulières was designed to embody our Houses’ hospitality and energy, and echoes the vital role that the act of transmitting plays for the LVMH Group: our aim is to share our diverse heritage, extensive savoir-faire and concrete innovations,” says Antoine Arnault, CEO of Berluti, chairman of Loro Piana and founder of Les Journées Particulières. “This unmatched event has stepped up to the mark; each edition involves a growing number of Houses, talents and visitors, making this 4th edition a global celebration of the world of art, and craftmanship.”
From October 12-14, visitors will be able to partake in distinctive experiences across venues in countries such as Germany, the US, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia. By visiting a microsite, participants will be able to choose from a selection of 77 venues, many of which have never been open to public before. This includes all categories across the LVMH portfolio, from fashion and beauty to wine and luggage.
Brands participating for the very first time include Benefit Cosmetics in San Francisco, Les Tanneries Roux in Romans-sur-Isère, Rimowa in Cologne and the T Fondaco Dei Tedeschi by DFS in Venice. Moreover, brands that have participated in previous editions will be offering new experiences, such as the chance to visit the Louis Vuitton prototype workshop in Paris and an exclusive tour of La Colle Noire, which was Christian Dior’s last residence, in Montaroux, in the south of France.
The program is heavily supported by a digital campaign that will help promote the luxury group’s desire to share its history and artistry with a wider audience. An interactive campaign will be launching ahead of the open days in September, and will include “Confidences Particulières”, a series of podcast episodes introducing the creative talents behind the Houses.
“Every day at LVMH, our Houses’ talents make a difference as they embody the core values behind the Group’s success: excellence, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation. “ says Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH. “The Journées Particulières is a unique event which showcases our artisans’ passion for creativity and their trades, and where the general public is able to meet the Houses’ talents. The event is an invitation to discover exceptional venues and carefully-preserved savoir-faire.”
Future visitors can pre-register on the aforementioned microsite from September 24-30. Registered users will be given priority access for themselves and up to three guests.
For this iteration of Les Journées Particulières, the addition of more Houses is an indication that luxury labels are increasingly more willing to open up their traditionally guarded gates. As luxury – and aspirational – consumers demand a story behind the brands and goods they consume, the industry is beginning to develop new tools and services that cater to that exact need.
Are you thinking innovatively enough in your brand messaging? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.
Dolce & Gabbana staged a tech-filled show in Milan on Sunday as it sent drones down the runway donning next season’s handbags.
One of the biggest marketing stunts of the season so far, the affair kicked off late while the brand waited for all of its 600 guests to turn off their WiFi, indicating in advance that it had a special surprise up its sleeve.
A handful of drones then opened the show by flying along the catwalk from a heavily adorned faux-church facade, each carrying a new color of next season’s bags and guided by assistants in white coats – presumably in place in case anything went wrong. They hovered in place, rotating on the spot, before returning backstage and letting the real show begin.
The label is no stranger to tapping into tech to engage with a millennial audience, with whom it is increasingly turning its focus to. In 2015, it sent models down the runway taking selfies. It has also long focused on enlisting a series of young royals, influencers and famous celebrity heirs to promote the brand through collaborations and runway shows.
This season also marks the second time the label hosted an additional ‘secret’ fashion show, with the aforementioned millennials playing leading roles. On Saturday night at a downtown party spot, the “Secrets & Diamonds” show featured models and selected influencers donning evening wear, including 20-something-year-old members of the British aristocracy, who the next day then watched the drone spectacle from the front row.
Dolce & Gabbana is not the first luxury label to deploy drones to ignite a conversation that one could argue deters from the actual fashion taking place. In 2014, Fendi worked with Unit9 and Google to live-stream its AW14 runway show by using drones that shot models from above. The role of technology as gimmick continues to rule the runway, it would seem.
Fendi has enlisted six global street artists to transform its HQ rooftop in Rome, Italy, in celebration of the one year anniversary of its “F is For…” online communications platform aimed at millennials.
Artists hailing from the US to Korea got together to write the word “Future” in their own native language, creating a ring that represents inclusion and diversity, titled The Ring of the Future.
To celebrate the launch, Fendi has also launched its first “F is For…” product, a genderless t-shirt sold exclusively at its online store.
The “F is For…” hub can be accessed via Fendi.com, with content split into five different verticals: Freaks, explaining the platform’s vision; Fulgore, featuring fashion editorials shot entirely on the iPhone 7; Faces, introducing models and other members of the brand’s ‘young crew’; Freedom, listing places to eat, drink and have fun; and Fearless, introducing new art and music.
In the physical world, “F is For…” is also hosting events, parties and fashion shows, while hoping to establish Rome, its hometown, as a fashionable location.
An absolute must-read this week (away from fashion specifically but heavily based around tech and consumer behaviour and therefore highly relevant to anyone in this space), is this view on “mobile 2.0” from Benedict Evans of Andreessen Horowitz. If there are a billion people with high-end smartphones now, what assumptions can we leave behind in terms of what that means, and what does the future look like accordingly? With AR and machine learning, it’s a pretty fascinating one.
Elsewhere, the latest news is of course geared to New York Fashion Week, with everything from Raf Simons’ successful debut for Calvin Klein and ongoing analysis of what exactly a see-now, buy-now model looks for those partaking. There’s also an update on new features from Pinterest and a big push from Instagram for its Live tool during the shows.
China’s social media app Weibo is showing signs of a strong rebound in a WeChat world, and luxury brands have been wasting no time taking advantage of the platform’s expanding reach.
Fendi recently rolled out a new campaign on Weibo asking followers of the Italian leather handbag brand to show off their best selfies. In a culture where the selfie is everything, the company enlisted the aid of not just one, but three different selfie apps to give users a variety of ways in which they could show off their smile with Fendi’s new “Hypnoteyes” capsule collection.
One of the apps is Meitu Pic, part of a company that also produces livestreaming app Meipai that has just been reviewed for a potential US$5.23 billion IPO. The company’s apps altogether have more than 400 million monthly active users, and Fendi is hoping to tap into this user base with its multi-pronged campaign. Meitu Pic users can access an exclusive set of Fendi frames, stickers and more to decorate their selfies and post them to Weibo with the hashtag, #FendiHypnoticEyes.
Fans can also participate by uploading their photo on BeautyPlus and Selfie City, both apps under the Meitu umbrella, but which serve slightly different purposes. BeautyPlus, for instance, boasts a filter that’s meant to improve skin blemishes, while Selfie City offers filters and frames from popular films. Fendi has customisable frames and filters on both apps for users to try.
One of China’s most influential fashion bloggers, Gogoboi, serves as Fendi’s selfie role model to give participants a goal to reach. Gogoboi started out as a Weibo blogger, but now, he also has fashion content on WeChat, including his own store as the platform has grown into a critical tool for marketers and e-commerce.
There had been talk among China’s tech experts in recent years that Weibo was facing impending doom as WeChat grew to become a major player in the daily lives of everyday Chinese consumers, from being a payment mechanism to a platform to message friends. Weibo started out as a Twitter-like microblog in 2009 and grew to more than 300 million users before taking a tumble in 2014 after both the rise of WeChat and a series of censorship crackdowns (which, by 2015, prompted real-name registration on all Chinese social media sites). In 2014, only about 5% of Weibo’s users were generating almost all of their content.
Now, though, things are starting to look up again for the platform. Weibo appears to have carved out a unique space for itself in the long-form blogging and video sphere by removing its character limit for posts and partnering with video sharing app Miaopai. In the past year ending in September, Sina Weibo has seen its monthly average users grow 79%, according to big data service provider QuestMobile. Its growth rate is faster than WeChat and even Alibaba’s e-commerce giant Taobao.
Even since WeChat’s rise in 2014, marketers still never quite gave up on Weibo when it came to luxury brands, but their approach to the platform is often different. For starters, Weibo, unlike WeChat, doesn’t have limitations on how often you can post per day, according to Kim Leitzes, founder of KOL marketplace ParkLu. Sometimes even the content is different — Revolve head of Greater China Jessica Shen said they like to encourage their fans to post street-style photos of their favourite Revolve outfits to their Weibo accounts, and they curate the best ones for their page. Weibo, she said, gives them an opportunity to create an almost Pinterest-like page of images for their brand in a clean, minimalistic style that stands out among all the noise.
If Weibo continues to gain momentum, it’s highly likely more luxury brands will be turning to the platform to grow loyal followers, but in a way that complements their WeChat content. Fendi did this by adding a Whack-A-Mole-style “Catch Hypnoteyes” game to its WeChat content stream, where players could also browse the products, and download animated sticker versions of the bags to send to friends.
With 150 million active daily users worldwide and 25-34 years olds as its fastest growing demographic, Snapchat is increasingly an appealing and pivotal part of social media strategy for fashion brands.
The problem is, with a severe lack of discoverability on the platform (there’s no search nor content surfacing), gaining traction isn’t the easiest task unless you’re spending money on ad products with the company. The same goes for the lack of metrics on hand; meaning building out what that content plan should look like isn’t a terribly straightforward one.
A paid-for strategy might well be for you, of course, and is in fact all that Snapchat itself will support. Burberry, ASOS, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, John Lewis and more, have all done so, working across the three ad products available (Snap Ads, which appear between Stories and Discover content, Sponsored Geofilters, which are location-specific overlays on images and videos taken, and Sponsored Lenses, which are augmented reality additions to selfies taken by users).
But underpinning that, needs to be a strong organic content plan – an understanding of the ways in which to get the most out of the platform year round, and use your other channels as a basis to push followers to it. At our recent #FashMash Bootcamp, a masterclass dedicated to Snapchat, we put forward 10 tips and tricks to get the most out of it, as well as lots of examples of brands to learn from within the fashion industry already doing it well.
1/ Tell stories
The key thing to recognise with Snapchat is how transient the content is. Arguably that affords you the ability to throw bits and pieces up and not worry too much. But more to the point, it means you need to make a big impact in a short amount of time to convince users to return. Storytelling is critical therefore. This is a storytelling platform. You need to think about what you’re creating along those lines accordingly. Even if your content is a basic behind-the-scenes view, does it have a beginning, middle and end? Storyboard out what that looks like before you start in order to capitalise on it to its greatest extent.
In terms of what the content should be, think around providing some seriously unique access – exclusivity beyond what you offer on other channels. Burberry has done this well, so has Agent Provocateur; both of them recognising this is not a place to copy and paste the same assets. The other critical consideration is around humour. Snapchat is all about entertainment. It’s playful, funny and whimsical, which may be an entirely different direction for your brand, but it’s a critical way to think in order to win on this platform. You want your content to have an “I would screenshot that” moment and being emotionally engaging is the secret sauce to making that happen.
2/ Get creative
Use the tools on hand within the Snapchat platform. The very heart of this app is the fun and frivolous nature of its messages sitting hand-in-hand with that humorous storytelling vibe – from the quirky illustrations you can add to the emojis, bitmojis, lenses and filters. Be native to the platform by integrating them into what you send. It will instantly lift your work to be more in line with what users expect to see. Gucci is a great example of a brand that has played with it in this way, thanks largely to its partnership with street artist GucciGhost, aka Trouble Andrew, last fashion week. But also check out the likes of Sophia Webster, ASOS and Primark.
If you’re up for advertising spend, your next best move is indeed a Sponsored Lens or Geofilter. The former tends to drive engagement, the latter is good for reach. Fashion has heavily experimented with both, the likes of Chanel through to Ugg creating entertaining and quite unexpected lenses, while River Island introduced filters to 280 of its stores.
3/ Don’t overproduce it
If there’s one thing that Snapchat isn’t about, it’s a polished, beautiful, laboured-over image. Forget that. It’s raw, candid and in the moment. It’s effortless, but rough around the edges. Again, if you want to feel like you organically fit alongside what a user is viewing from their friends, you don’t want your content to feel like an advert. Amateur is the aim.
Valentino is a great brand in this space, sharing real and regular insights into what all goes on in its showrooms, without feeling too stuffy or produced. Art direction is fine, but it needs to feel native to the platform. Remember it’s shot on a smartphone, which almost instinctively leads to an insider view and a fly-on-the-wall style, so embrace it.
4/ Pick your personality
Another part of treating the platform natively, comes in thinking about how your content is presented. It almost goes without saying that video is critical, but where Snapchat sits differently to most other channels is that success is frequently found in having someone’s face on show within that. Users are used to a very personal view from the interactions and the selfies they have from friends; the augmented reality Lenses only push this further. If you’re approaching this as a brand therefore, it’s about hiring people that can achieve this for you. Are you working with an influencer (see point 7) or can your own team step up as personalities?
Everlane is the prime example here. It uses the platform as its primary social media channel, anchoring each and every post with insights from its candid and personable team members, Red Gaskell and Isadora Sales. They have come to represent the brand, making their stories and what they talk about, must-view content. It works within a feed of friends otherwise, and makes you feel as though you do indeed, know them yourself.
5/ Mix it up
The beauty of Snapchat is indeed the fact that it’s content so readily disappears, giving you the ability to experiment and see what works for you. Such ease of creation also provides the ability to mix up the type of content you produce, however. As with any channel, too much of the same thing gets repetitive. Think about how you can ensure a variety of content to keep it interesting for your team to produce and your viewers to watch – from the subject of them particularly, to whether they are stills or videos, and indeed include any of the creative tools in point 2.
Warby Parker is a particularly strong example of a brand posting regular and very varied types of posts. At this point in time, the industry at large, is leaning most heavily towards posting about product, followed by lifestyle and events, as per the below chart from L2. Can you think outside the box on this and lean towards ever-greater storytelling compared to your competitors, weaving in that piece around humour from point 1?
6/ Engage your community
To truly embrace the candidness of Snapchat, it’s important to engage your community. This isn’t a one-way channel, but rather an opportunity for authentic conversation. It’s about messaging far more than broadcasting. Encourage followers to send you Snaps by asking them questions in your story, invite them to screengrab certain posts you put up, and of course take that view into the real world with on-the-ground activations tied to your Snapchat feed.
Bloomingdale’s for instance ran a scavenger hunt with different geofilters placed around their stores that users had to send selfies of themselves with to win certain prizes. On an even simpler basis, rumour has it the team at Everlane send at least a selfie back to every Snap they receive.
7/ Work with influencers
As with so many other platform, working with influencers is a sure-fire way of authentically gaining traction and relevance with new audiences. It’s more important than ever with Snapchat however, where discovery is distinctly limited, as noted. For users to find you, they either need to know your exact username or have taken a picture of your Snapcode. Using influencers is therefore a smart route of enabling wider reach as well as engagement.
This is something the likes of Rimmel has done with Cara Delevingne and Tommy Hilfiger with Gigi Hadid. The latter has posted about the brand on her own account to drive new traffic to it, as well as hosted the occasional takeover on the Hilfiger channel around key events like fashion week. Treat those partnerships as you would on any other social network – make decisions based around what and who aligns with your brand, not just how many numbers they might extend to.
8/ Think about timing
Ensure you create a rhythm of posting. The whole purpose of Snapchat is to foster FOMO (fear of missing out), meaning you need to give your viewers a reason to return on a regular basis so they feel like they really are missing something if they’re not there. The ephemeral and transient nature of this platform provides the perfect opportunity to do so. Consider having weekly segments like Everlane does with its #TransparencyTuesday campaign and Chubbies does with its True Thighs fictionalised series – both go-to campaigns that viewers know to tune in for.
At this point in time, the fashion industry is otherwise largely focused on delivering content around fashion weeks or other events. Given there’s no back catalogue for users to flick through, that’s often a wasted opportunity. That’s not to say it’s essential to post everyday, but it’s only by regularly being present that you get seen here.
9/ Connect to commerce
All the aforementioned tips around storytelling, personalities and dialogue still stand, but on Snapchat, product reveals and showcases also have a big part to play. Consumers reportedly want to see your stuff, but the question then stands as to how you connect that engagement through to conversion? There is of course no direct route for links to e-commerce pages, nor any metrics around anything you’re putting out (unless you’re paying for ad products, as explained), but there are ways to start seeing uplift if you approach it creatively.
Think outside the box with your content strategy if conversion is a key objective. Can you drive codes through Stories that shoppers can bring into stores, giving you an anecdotal mode of ROI at least? Or could you share direct product codes within your posts, as Ann Taylor LOFT and Revolve have both done? Everlane has even experimented with Snapchat Discover publisher Sweet recently to test the idea of shoppable content via screenshots and emails.
10/ Spread the fun
As noted, discovery on Snapchat is really hard. There’s also no way to know how many followers you have or have gained with a campaign, unless it’s a paid one. Your number one job with any content strategy on the channel is therefore to look at broader means of getting people on board. You should be pushing your Snapcode out to further social platforms, as well as the real world, but more than that, cross promoting what you produce in order to drive awareness around the content itself.
Everything you post can be saved, reuploaded and shared elsewhere; teased and pushed accordingly. Fendi has even used its Snapchat Tour campaign as an opportunity to create an entire series on its own website, letting something that was once 24 hours long, live on long thereafter. Influencers come in again here too in order to help push numbers, but if you have a big following on the likes of Facebook, you might also want to think around some paid promotion on mobile using the “snapchat.com/add/username” link to drive awareness and direct click-throughs to the app and your account.
The role Blockchain will play in the fashion industry is our top story this week after it was documented from a storytelling and verification perspective at Shanghai Fashion Week by Babyghost and VeChain. The opportunity for the fashion industry at large to look to embrace it for anti-counterfeiting and provenance is brought to mind.
Meanwhile, the ongoing struggle of luxury brands has been strongly documented this past week, from the positive effect Brexit has had on the likes of Burberry to a new report from Bain/Altagamma on what’s ahead. That sits alongside insight from Luca Solca, head of luxury goods at BNP Exane Paribas, on the strategic threats of digital to luxury brands.
Also worth reading this week are predictions for the future of technology from Alibaba’s Jack Ma and an interview with Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts on turning stores into town squares. Don’t forget to also sign up for our Snapchat Masterclass before the early bird rate ends on Oct 31.
Luxury was late to the digital party and for the most part hasn’t acquitted itself well ever since. Which is why the regular ContactLab/Exane BNP Paribas reports into just how good the purchasing experience is for consumers is always interesting.
The report looks at factors such as digital touchpoint like abandoned carts, customer service, ease of ordering and general communications, plus physical touchpoint like packaging, delivery and much more.
Last year it did this from a Milanese viewpoint and this year it was New York. So what did it learn?
Well, Balenciaga and Fendi topped the performance ranking this time after ContactLab did its usual practical tests. It bought and returned products from 31 brand websites and five multi brand e-tailers.
Kering (Balenciaga owner) and LVMH (Fendi owner) must be happy as they were joint first. Kering scored again in number three position as Saint Laurent (or is it YSL these days?) took the bronze medal. Chanel and Coach shared fourth place, just missing the medal-winners rostrum.
Dropping back this time were Cartier, which had scored well last year but was in eighth spot this time, plus former high-ranker Louis Vuitton at only number 17. Hugo Boss was a lowly 31. Gucci stayed at number 16.
Burberry and Prada both improved. But given that Burberry was only at number 13 when it prides itself on being very digitally-focused, that’s not great. And poor old Prada only managed a rise to number 27 so its much-talked-about digital turnaround obviously hasn’t kicked in yet.
What’s so interesting about this particular report is that it’s not about the things we often notice first, such as high profile websites or social media engagement; it’s purely about the nuts and bolts of buying and returning goods, because that’s what the customer does and that’s how the customer interacts most with a brand. Given that online accounted for all of luxury’s growth last year and is expected to do so for the next few years at least, you’d think the experience would be prioritised.
You’d also think luxury retailers rather than monobrands might perform better with their long traditions of customer service, but some of those don’t acquit themselves that well. Saks was only in 13th place, Nordstrom 18th, Barneys 26th and Bergdorf Goodman an unimpressive 35th.
Who was the top retailer? Net-a-Porter in sixth place. I must admit, the experience of buying from this company (and its Yoox arm) is generally excellent. It wasn’t always. Many a time I’ve paid extra for Saturday delivery from Yoox only for something to arrive on Monday. While Net-a-Porter once took five months to refund me for an item returned the day after delivery. It was only a small amount and I completely overlooked not getting the refund until it just showed up nearly half a year later.
But that was five years ago, since then the company has shown why it’s the luxury e-tail leader.
“Net-A-Porter is digital native and is extremely consistent in assuring a top luxury performance in the majority of the more than 100 digital and physical touch points we have been evaluating along the online purchasing process,” said Marco Pozzi, senior advisor at ContactLab. He added that US department stores came out better on the digital touch points (especially Nordstrom and Saks) but they’re “average or lagging on physical touch points”.
“It should not be difficult for department stores to improve packaging, fillers, documentation and overall care in order to give a more luxury and less Amazon-like feeling to online customers,” Pozzi said. “Of course this requires focus on the problem, and for sure additional costs.”
The stores do rate highly on returns though, especially Nordstrom, which is unsurprising as multibrand retailers have a long tradition of liberal returns policies while luxury brands themselves are frequently very unforgiving if you change your mind. However, ContactLab said Burberry and Cartier top the returns service rankings.
This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday.
A round-up of everything you might have missed in fashion and technology news (and beyond) over the past week or so. Read on for a sneak peek of Anthony Vaccarello’s new Saint Laurent, detail on how Primark got to three million Instagram followers, and why Samsung wants to bring VR to fashion…
An Instagram sneak peek at what Anthony Vaccarello’s Saint Laurent will look like [Yahoo]
Fashion weeks may be undergoing a period of significant change at present, but for now, the same fundamental rules for marketers during New York, London, Milan and Paris, exist. How do you showcase your new collection to a digital audience in a way that stands out from the noise and resonates with relevant customers at the same time? And how do you keep their interest long enough that one day, they might actually go out and buy what they see?
Here then, is a look back at a piece that first appeared from us in Campaign US a year ago: a list of 11 do’s and don’ts to help you:
Don’t post weak visuals. This is rule No. 1 for fashion week, a time when Instagram and Twitter are overwhelmed with blurry photos and videos of models as they walk past the front row. No one cares about mere proof that you were there; but they do care about Fashion Week more broadly, so give them something they can’t otherwise see. If you want engagement, think more like Dolce & Gabbana instead: a brand that consistently delivers beautiful still and motion imagery, real time or otherwise. With today’s devices, there’s no excuse for anything but. The more candid, docu-style assets belong (and work) on SnapChat, so put them there.
Do think beyond the “like.” What are you actually trying to achieve during Fashion Week? This is one of the noisiest times of the year in this industry, so be prepared to put the legwork in to be able to get the sort of numbers you want out. Your first challenge, therefore, is figuring out exactly what your objectives are, and accepting the fact they may be different from what you usually push for. Are you looking to build awareness? Drive traffic? Increase brand affinity? Or actually influence conversions? Apply your answer to the channels you use.
Do determine the channels most suited to your brand. Just because it’s a noisy time of year, don’t feel like you have to jump on every channel because you can, and whatever you do don’t just blind spray the same content across them all. Facebook needs to be different from Pinterest, which needs to be different from Instagram, and as already mentioned, really different again from Snapchat. And you’ll need to consider video, too. If resources are limited, use them wisely by prioritising which of the big platforms are right for your consumers. Who are you trying to reach, and where are they? It’s worth remembering much of the online Fashion Week crowd won’t be your current customers, but they could be your future ones; targeting them could be quite a different move, so think through how best to capture their attention.
Don’t be scared to experiment. As much as it’s sensible to have a strong base strategy going into Fashion Week, it’s also a time ripe for experimentation. Take risks by trying out new channels and thinking about what you could do on some of the more niche ones. In the past, Fashion Week has seen some great campaign work on the likes of Spotify by Zac Posen, Skype by Victoria Beckham, and WeChat by Burberry. Expect Snapchat to continue as the platform making the greatest splash this season. But if something just doesn’t work for you, step away from it. The beauty of digital is being forgiven and forgotten very quickly — so cut your losses and refocus your efforts elsewhere.
Do think about what will stand out. Snapchat will of course only get you so far. If brand awareness is your goal, then press coverage is key. If you’ve got the resources, go big by considering true innovation. Sometimes it might be seen as a gimmick, but it works. Fendi is a strong example. In February 2014 it introduced drones flying above its Milan Fashion Week show, recording the models as they walked out and beaming that footage back in real time to fans watching at home. The quality was terrible, but every major press outlet reported on it.
Do take advantage of organic content about your brand. If you’re directly involved with Fashion Week, it’s quite likely a lot of content will be generated on your behalf. Use it! Chanel has frequently been one of the most hashtagged fashion brands on Instagram, which helped it generate an enormous 2.4 million followers via @chanelofficial before it even posted any of its of its own content on there. (It finally did for the first time in October 2014.) Retweet or regram your influencers, integrate their posts into your own digital assets, and strive to push that advocacy further.
Don’t forget to interact with your fans. Social media is not a one-way channel, but it’s still very much considered so by many designer brands. Fashion Week is an ideal time to break that code and interact more regularly with existing and aspiring consumers. Rebecca Minkoff is a great brand to look at for inspiration. It took the idea of direct engagement a step further in 2014 by involving Instagram fans in a critical decision related to the show: which of two looks would walk the runway. It was an incredibly simple post featuring two shots side by side with the opportunity for followers to vote. It worked.
Do partner with influencers. Beyond the reposts and the interactions, think about setting up more strategic relationships with influencers in the space. They don’t have to be bloggers; perhaps they’re Instagram artists or Pinterest stars. Tommy Hilfiger in September 2014 introduced what it referred to as its “First Timers” campaign, giving access to a group of digital influencers from outside the fashion industry. Experts from the worlds of music, art, floristry, travel and architecture were all invited. This season, it’s introduing an “Instapit” for Instagram users. Tumblr also runs a scheme every season that sees up-and-coming artists and photographers on its channel, taken on tour throughout Fashion Week; they hit some of the big shows, meet the designers and enhance their own networks. Open up your space to influential outsiders.
Do back all of this with budget. Free only goes so far these days. Partnerships take money. Content takes money. Most important: If you really want to target specific sets of customers, boosting your presence with real media spend is what makes all the difference. Think about doing so in real time, reacting to what is working and getting behind it to push it further.
Do think beyond the moment. It’s easy to get carried away during Fashion Week in a bid to keep up with what everyone else is doing. The amount of incredible visual assets at your disposal certainly helps, but don’t forget about what that means for your digital profile the rest of the year. Brands that enjoy the best engagement are the ones that maintain the quality, volume and velocity of Fashion Week long after the live stream. Look to Victoria’s Secret for inspiration: Its annual show has become an entertainment property in its own right, and the content it surrounds it with is equally commendable.
Or maybe… Don’t bother. If you’re not already an integral part of Fashion Week — set up with a scheduled slot for your show or presentation — consider how necessary it is to bid for relevance. Yes, there are opportunities for digital engagement, but it’s even easier to just get lost in the noise entirely. If you have something to launch, truly consider a different time of year before you use up valuable resource — not only might your consumers pay more attention, but so will others in the industry.