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Lessons from Bailey

Photo by Nick Knight

My obsession with Burberry in relation to all things digital continues, and gets further satisfaction from this profile of Christopher Bailey in American Vogue.

In it, writer Robert Sullivan refers to Bailey as a pioneer in this space: “To Bailey, designing a trench and designing a Web-savvy business fall along the same lines—each creates a place for his customer to live.”

Bailey’s focus on this hybrid world, has resulted in a real change in what luxury today actually means.

“Slowly, with a meticulous assuredness, [Bailey] has traded in the traditional idea of luxury—status as defined in large part by exclusivity—for something that is cool because it’s thoroughly global and modern, modern in the sense that it thrives at technology’s leading edge,” says Sullivan.

In so doing, Bailey acknowledges he’s not just aiming to appeal to his current customers, but to consumers at large.

“Brands are more and more multidimensional,” Bailey says. “It’s about an experience as well as buying a product. And I think what we’ve found is the more we entertain, the more we allow people into our brand. Then maybe one day they’ll buy. And then… who knows?”

He also suggests plans with mobile and location could be a next step for the brand. “I love the idea that if someone is part of our Burberry community, they can be fed content based on where they are… So if I’m in London and I’ve been interested in this bag, these pants, this coat, and I fly to New York and I pass our window on Fifty-seventh Street, something might pop up that says, ‘You’re at Burberry, and this product is in this size’.”

The industry could learn a lot from Bailey. As Sullivan puts it: “He has positioned Burberry as fashion’s leader on the next frontier, a global digital frontier that many of the largest fashion brands have watched while standing nervously behind their just-cracked penthouse doors.”

Read the full article here: Christopher Bailey: Tech Mate

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T minus 31 hours til #LFW

Having wanted to first start this blog months ago, I began collecting stories, ideas, scraps of information that I could eventually post and sticking them all into a folder on my email account especially. The problem is, said dedicated folder got bigger and bigger, while I just got busier and busier to ever actually wade through it.

A sign, I thought, that I was at least on the right lines – for it must mean I have a lot to say.

So with London Fashion Week (#lfw) starting tomorrow, I figured a better plan of action was to rather just get stuck straight in, to pull the plaster off and go for it.

So here I am, and here’s my first post, which is aiming to sum up what this blog is actually going to be about.

In short, it’s focused entirely and exclusively on the “collision point” (to steal a phrase from Ralph Lauren – more on that later) of the two worlds in which I work; fashion and technology.

For the first time, luxury brands, and when I say that I mean luxury in quite a loose sense of the word, are approaching their marketing in the knowledge, finally, that the digital world can no longer be ignored.

Slowly but surely everything from live-streaming catwalk shows to creating 3D campaigns and innovative viral videos is becoming the norm to an industry that has historically avoided the internet altogether.

It’s been a difficult battle – how does an upmarket design house that has found its success in being exclusive and therefore elusive, accept something that means it will be opening itself up to any consumer anywhere in the world, and therefore potentially damaging its identity entirely?

That very question has been banded about since the dotcom bust – even today there continue to be many brands with little more than a landing page for a website, let alone fully-fledged e-commerce capability.

With the rise of social networking however, not to mention the viral value there is in anything technically innovative at present, it’s those without a presence that are now risking their image.

And so it’s changing. There are pioneers in the field. There’s Burberry, there’s Louis Vuitton, there’s Ralph Lauren, to name a few.

Rather than discussing the pros and cons of digital, the should we shouldn’t we, the what it means and the “it’s the future” comments, these houses are getting on with it. They’re not talking about it, they’re doing it. Now.

It’s taken a long time, but through technology, luxury fashion suddenly has the potential to reclaim the ground it always owned – that of innovation and subsequently of how to win in branding.

In short, this blog is not about style, nor is it about clothes. Yes it’s about fashion, but it’s from a very specific angle that I believe is one of the most exciting and inspiring in our industry today.

I’ll be covering everything from new campaigns to social media mishaps focusing primarily on a news angle, but with comment thrown in, hopefully from some choice contributors, throughout. Feel free to post your comments and if you’re a brand, send me your stories too.

Happy fashion week.