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2013: a designer meets digital year in review

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What a busy year it’s been…

From 3D printing taking its first trip down the New York Fashion Week catwalk, to the launch of Vine and Instagram videos, not to mention the continuing debate about the role of bloggers as influencers, the increased focus on the potential market size of wearables, and Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year as ‘selfie’one thing after another has rapidly impacted the role of innovation in this niche fashion x digital space.

Below then, are 10 of the posts you loved the most on F&M this year. It’s an interesting collection, nodding to familiar ideas like storytelling and crowdsourcing, as well as higher quality content, and a general reassessment of what it is that actually works in this space. Video content does of course also have its place, as does the continuing power of celebrity.

Thank you for reading and see you in 2014!

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social media

Kenneth Cole unveils Vine mosaic during #NYFW show

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Over 120 Vine videos were released in real-time during last weekend’s Kenneth Cole presentation at New York Fashion Week, tied to the theme “Your point of view depends on your points of view” and the hashtag #kcviewpoints.

As the brand’s new spring/summer 2014 collection was unveiled, videographers including Meagan Cignoli, Jesse Hlebo, Jodi Jones and Jason Mante posted six-second clips of everything from the materials used, to the behind-the-scenes preparations for the show. Live footage was also captured as the models walked down the runway and posed alongside their counterparts on two stages opposite each other (casually using their own smartphones as they did so).

On-site plasma displays behind them showcased the various clips to those in attendance, but it was online where the real action took place. At Kennethcole.com/viewpoints a mosaic of Vines was revealed much like a live-streamed show would be.

“The live-stream Vine mosaic takes a single event in New York City and transforms it into an engaging global experience in an entirely new way,” said Rei Inamoto, CCO/VP of ad agency AKQA, which was behind the initiative.

A series of one-liners also feature on the site, tied to the use of Vine. “Allow us to share our POV (patterns on Vine),” reads one. “We have no second thoughts, just six-second thoughts,” reads another.

The clips also include designer interviews and a series of slow-motion shots thanks to the use of Academy Award-winning technology from the Phantom 65 Gold camera, which shoots up to 1500 frames per second.

Some highlight videos are embedded below…

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social media technology

#NYFW digital highlight: Tommy Hilfiger’s social concierge

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Tommy Hilfiger brought a sense of digital personalisation to those in attendance at his California-themed New York Fashion Week show this season; offering up a service that delivered assets – pictures through to collection information – upon request in real-time.

The “social concierge”, as it was called, saw a dedicated team of 30 responding to emails sent in from showgoers – either providing them with what they were after from a cloud-based library, or directing a team member on-site to capture the request directly. Mashable experimented with this 30-minutes in advance to see what was possible, asking for an image of the designer with a model doing a thumbs up, and got the exact shot back just before the show began, as shown above.

Meanwhile, I requested one of the first looks, a finale shot and an image from behind-the-scenes while the collection walk was in action, all of which I received within 15 minutes of it ending. Mine (included below) were evidently shot on an iPhone, though the service did also incorporate higher quality photography and reportedly a team of digital technicians to instantly edit the shots.

The concept is of course tied to social media sharing. Said the company: “[It] allows the industry to curate and share a new layer of exclusive, customized content on their own digital platforms for their followers during the show.” It added that the aim was to further “emphasise the approachable and inclusive DNA of the brand”.

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That access to exclusive content for attendees also continued with the brand’s “Runway Newsroom”, an online portal that opened immediately following the show, once again intended largely for press and buyers. This included everything from a full collection statement to high res images of the line, behind-the-scenes activities and even set design. So too were there sketches from the designer and detailed photographs of the fabrics.

As Avery Baker, CMO at Tommy, told WWD: “There is increased pressure on media and influencers to communicate immediately to their followers. We felt this program would help facilitate and streamline the process for them.”

Two further pieces of digital content were also created for the season:

The first was the result of the brand providing bloggers including Scott Schuman and Susie Bubble with Lytro cameras. These light field cameras allow photos to be refocused after they are taken. In other words, viewers can focus in on the model in the foreground or switch to the crowd behind her just by tapping the screen (see below).

And secondly, it partnered with artist Meagan Cignoli to capture moments in the lead-up to and during its show using Vine and Instagram video (see this one for instance). A separate series of 30-second videos were created by the brand focused on details like the beauty looks, the accessories in the collection and its beach-themed set up.

As with last season, “The Conversation” of the show was captured on a live social media feed displayed in the entrance-way to the venue on 90ft screens.

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film social media

How fashion brands are using Vine

This article first appeared on Mashable

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The fashion industry immediately embraced Vine, Twitter’s 6-second video app, after it launched in February. It was no surprise it was suddenly so popular: The app was released just two weeks before New York Fashion Week kicked off, a time when behind-the-scenes runway shots were readily available to capture and share in 6-second loops.

But Vine is much more difficult to make look beautiful and polished than Instagram photos, and brands quickly discovered that to participate, they needed to relax their typically stringent production quality requirements. Perhaps that’s why, following the shows, most fashion houses dropped the platform altogether, only returning to it, in some cases, for the menswear shows in London and Milan earlier this month.

That’s not to say that Vine’s fashion future is dead — it’s merely getting a slow start. Early data indicates that Vine videos are shared four times as often as other kinds of Internet video, and the launch of video for Instagram, which many brands have already enthusiastically adopted, is creating further incentive for fashion firms to ramp up their capabilities and resources in this area.

Let’s take a look at a few fashion brands using Vine to exceptional effect…

Stop motion art

Stop-motion artists are among Vine’s most popular users. Eyeing this trend, French Connection collaborated with photographer Meagan Cignoli to create a series of highly shareable, summer-themed stop-motion videos. In one video, the brand’s latest collection packs itself into a suitcase for a holiday. In another, various outfits are laid out and rolled up on the beach.

Cignoli tells me that each video typically has between 100 and 120 separately recorded clips. The result is incredibly fluid and eye-catching, instantly negating any notion that Vine can’t be a platform for quality creative work. Online retailer Nasty Gal is another standout for stop-motion inspiration, weaving playful, wiggling pieces of candy in and around products like handbags, shoes and makeup. Burberry, too, has used stop-motion video to showcase product prints and patterns, as well as celebrities present at its last menswear show.

Showcasing product details

The beauty of the French Connection work by Cignoli is that it places products front and center, but it’s so creative it doesn’t feel like marketing. Marc Jacobs is another example of a designer who is doing this, releasing some nice stop-motion work that features handbags on what looks like a rotating conveyor belt.

For others, Vine presents an opportunity to demonstrate the work that goes into making products. Matthew Williamson did this during London Fashion Week in February with his #matthewmagnified campaign, and Oscar de la Renta, through the handle OscarPRGirl, used Vine to detail the craftsmanship that goes into its bridalwear pieces.

Gap is also using Vine to highlight key pieces in-store, but takes a more editorial approach, employing models for its videos. In one, a woman spins around in an assortment of dresses. In another, a young girl plays in the latest DVF GapKids collection in the park. These are much more developed than the clips that debuted during fashion week season: a haphazard amalgamation of garments on hangers and poorly lit models on runways.

Injecting personality

Some brands’ Vine videos manage to be both beautifully produced and full of personality.

Urban Outfitters released short videos that are playful yet stylish at the same time. In one clip, a bunch of balloons float into an office. In another, the contents of a purse are being prepared ahead of a festival trip. In another stop-motion video, makeup carries itself into a bag. It’s worth noting that with more than 40,000 followers, Urban Outfitters is one of the most popular brands on Vine, proving that volume and frequency of posts can be a more successful formula than fewer, higher quality videos — as showcased by French Connection, which has just a fraction of Urban Outfitters’ followers.

Behind the scenes

As mentioned, fashion brands released a great deal of behind-the-scenes content on Vine during fashion week season. This is a trend that’s continued since the shows, with brands and retailers providing windows into their corporate headquarters, design studios and individual stores.

Marc Jacobs has used Vine to take followers on many journeys at its headquarters and stores, from the creation of its latest Resort collection campaign to celebrity interviews during in-store book signings. Using the hashtag #staffstyles, Marc Jacobs frequently showcases the prints and patterns worn by its employees. In another example, Bergdorf Goodman features staffers as they try on different pairs of sunglasses. The video is tied to a message about sun protection.

Puma recently released a series of Vine videos featuring Olympic champion Usain Bolt on the set of his latest campaign for the brand. The quick all-access videos, shot again by Cignoli, frequently allow Bolt’s own personality to come through. Meanwhile, Nordstrom has shown what it’s like at its stores after hours, with shoes whimsically moving about on shelves when customers aren’t there. In another video, a flying shirt leads followers on a magical tour through merchandise.

Beyond the obvious

One thing fashion and retail brands haven’t taken advantage of is the how-to video, which is a popular hashtag on Vine. Bergdorfs has done a beauty tutorial and Nordstrom has used Vine to show how to tie a tie, but there are plenty more opportunities here.

As autumn’s busy event calendar gets rolling and the fall collections hit stores, expect to see more behind-the-scenes footage as well as more close-up product shots. Though some brands’ participation has been impeded by corporate approval processes, there’s no doubt — especially with the recent launch of video on Instagram — that short-form video will become a more central part of the fashion industry’s output.

As Cignoli advises: “Fashion brands just need to let go a little and enjoy Vine 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.”

Do you have any favorite fashion brands you follow on Vine?

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social media

Why and how fashion brands should be on Vine: Meagan Cignoli creative interview

 

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.