Prada has worked with Lil Miquela, a computer-generated virtual influencer, to promote its Fall 2018 collection via animated GIFs on Instagram Stories.
To announce the partnership alongside the label’s Milan Fashion Week runway show, Miquela posted a series of short Instagram videos featuring the GIFs, and invited her followers to head to Stories and play. The call to action read: “Go off!! #pradagifs are live in stories! Start posting and tag me.”
Over on Prada’s account, the CGI avatar gave followers a mini tour of the show space, a new Rem Koolhaas venue, while flying a drone around, which she controlled with her phone.
GIFs ranged from inspiration of Prada’s current collection, as well as nods to more archival pieces such as the SS10 flame shoe and the SS11 banana print.
Miquela Souza, or Lil Miquela, is a virtual version of a 19-year-old Los Angeles based influencer, who boasts over 600k followers on Instagram, and whose creators remain purposively elusive.
Speaking to the Business of Fashion in February, Miquela explains her success: “Initially, it probably stems from curiosity. I think people stick around because they end up learning more about themselves through the questions they’re asking. I love being able to communicate, learn and talk to everyone from all corners of the world. There is a sense of community to it as well, the people who follow me end up being friends with each other and the communications that it opens up is inspiring.”
Since “launching”, the influencer has been seen wearing the likes of Vetements and Proenza Schouler, while her music track “Not Mine” has been played over 100K times on Spotify.
Tommy Hilfiger launched a “behind the drive” experience as part of the digital content driving its spring 2018 TOMMYNOW DRIVE show; in doing so adding a layer of immersive storytelling to the motorsport-themed proceedings.
Guests at the Milan Fashion Week show could scan QR codes that allowed them access to exclusive video and photo content, such as the evolution of the capsule collection and the process of developing an actual Formula 1 Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport racing car.
The motorsport theme was a tribute to Tommy’s long time love of racing, and a partnership with Formula 1 World Champions Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport. It was also the theme of the brand’s latest TommyxGigi capsule collection with supermodel Gigi Hadid – a celebration of speed, from Tommy’s love of racing to Gigi’s fast-paced lifestyle.
The occasion marked the brand’s fourth in-season runway show, building upon its now signature see-now, buy-now format. All runway looks were available to buy immediately on shoppable channels across 70 countries.
There were also various other connected content experiences. As with previous seasons, the TOMMYNOW SNAP app was employed, using 2D and 3D image recognition technology so users could take a photo of any item (in store, online, on the runway or on the street) and shop it instantly at Tommy.com. For spring 2018, the TOMMYNOW SNAP app was also able to recognize any men’s or women’s style and present behind-the-scenes footage of the item’s deign process.
The 2,000 plus guests were otherwise immersed into TOMMYNOW DRIVE in real-life as well; entering through a futuristic tunnel and portrait station, while being surrounded by real racing sound effects and LED light installations. Guests could also experience an F1 race simulator and an F1 pit stop challenge.
The brand also continued to offer its AI-powered chatbots, TMY.BOY and TMY.GRL, on Facebook messenger, providing celebrity styling advice through video content of influencers sharing their favorite collection looks.
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.
Despite some connected clothing here, a spot of mixed reality there, there’s largely been little in the way of technology in action this fashion week season. Not literally of course – behind the scenes, tech is working harder than ever to push the latest shows out to a widening consumer audience – but the role of innovation has made a serious shift away from big tech hits in recent times.
Over the past few years, tech has been the way to grab attention – we’ve seen everything from drones, holograms, virtual reality, wearables and more making their way down the New York, London, Milan and Paris runways. Who could forget Google Glass at Diane von Furstenberg, virtual reality windows at Topshop or the holographic Polo Ralph Lauren show? And that’s before you think about the likes of Burberry pioneering the way with endless partnerships with tech giants Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter.
Such a focus wasn’t brand new (the infamous robotic spray-paint scene from Alexander McQueen takes us back to before today’s connected age – nearly 20 years ago to spring/summer 1999), but it exploded in the social media era, becoming the defacto way to draw headlines, whether it was for the first live streams or indeed those big budget campaigns.
But in the centre of all that, in some instances because of it, the very notion of fashion week has changed. Today, the industry is battling with an event series that has become consumer facing while it’s still set up to deliver primarily to a trade (wholesale) model. What appears on the catwalks is generally speaking six-months ahead of it hitting stores. The result is supposed consumer fatigue, greater fast fashion copycats and more pressure than ever on turnover, margins and more. The big question now is not only whether that should change, but how. Enter the “see-now, buy-now” movement from those able to be more agile in their production timelines, including Burberry, Tommy Hilfiger, Tom Ford, Rebecca Minkoff, Topshop Unique and more.
But the follow-up question that then brings, is if we start selling to consumers now what does that mean for how things are marketed in real-time?
The simple answer, really, is to step away from the tech-for-tech’s-sake stuff; the attention grabbing initiatives without any substance behind them. That concept can still be achieved in other ways – with set designs, with political statements, with genuinely incredible collections. Today’s focus instead seems to be moving to conversion rates – to selling. And importantly, less on gimmicks.
It’s still very early days with this consumer-facing movement, and we’re just bedding in with the first iterations of it, let alone have any true measurement to compare. But, as one big British brand told me off the record this London Fashion Week: “If you have a line to push immediately, your efforts and budgets are going to go to that – to directing consumers into how to shop, not in something else that’s merely a brand move.”
What we did see in technology this season was accordingly driven by what would indeed impact the end shopper. There were chatbots once more from the likes of Burberry and Tommy Hilfiger. There was also an immediately shoppable initiative on Instagram from Rebecca Minkoff in partnership with LiketoKnow.it.
“Our customers love when we create unique experiences for them. More than just shopping, they get to be a part of our brand and we get to know them in a more meaningful way,” said Minkoff. “Collaborating with LiketoKnow.it empowers us to take that to a global audience by giving them immediate access to the same content and products that those attending in person are seeing, and that’s a very powerful opportunity.” She also introduced connected handbags to draw in certain shoppers to a unique experience of the show via a digital ticket.
Tommy Hilfiger then introduced a visual search tool with Slyce – an app called Tommyland Snap:Shop that enabled users to take pictures of the models to pull up the e-commerce link to that item.
Both Minkoff and Hilfiger, who each showed in LA this season, otherwise focused heavily on the idea of full consumer entertainment as well as a significant influencer plug-in. The recognition here is that it’s about getting in front of the right consumers, and spending money to do it.
And this isn’t just a fashion week move. You can see the same with social media. It’s not about gimmicky campaigns anymore – when was the last time you called something on Facebook an innovation? It’s more about integration. It’s about decent budgets and shifting the needle on ROI.
It’s a similar story at retail, with fewer campaigns focused on technology in the store. That doesn’t mean there’s actually less tech in-store – but there’s a redirection towards the sort of tech that matters.
Speaking at the recent Commerce 2020 summit in London, Malcolm Pinkerton, VP of e-commerce and digital retail insights at Kantar Retail, said: “[In recent years] we’ve seen stores flooded with technology hoping it would digitise the experience, but it was hard to do and expensive to maintain. Now we’ve realised we can build solutions around what people bring in with them – mobile.”
Innovation today is happening in that somewhat quieter fashion. Chatbots might still be nascent, but it makes sense they’re being experimented with – forget drones on the catwalk, why not offer personalised access to it through an AI-enabled smartphone experience? It’s for that same reason we’re seeing virtual reality and mixed reality content continuing during the shows – dipping a toe into where the future of interactive (and shoppable) content is moving.
The fact is, technology shouldn’t be a “brand move” anymore. It needs to work for who your customer is, where she is, and when. On that basis, it shifts from a headline, to a standard part of what you do. All year round.
That’s not to say there’s no place for innovation anymore. Far from it. It’s perhaps more necessary today, than ever. In this sort of market, the question increasingly becomes how do you stand out – especially if you don’t have Tommy Hilfiger-size budgets? And even if you do, how is that sustainable? On that basis, it’s about shifting the very fundamental underpinning of the business, not just the press release topline.
It’s about truly keeping ahead of the curve by disrupting the way you’ve always operated. Innovation today isn’t necessarily about the flashiest moves, but the smartest. Innovating in the supply chain, in the personalised customer experience via mobile, even eventually more and more through the fabrications themselves, is where we’ll start seeing real movements.
So is tech going out of fashion? No, but the thing to remember is that innovation is no longer just a marketing play; it’s an entire business mentality.
It might have been Milan Fashion Week, but the majority of musing worth knowing about in the digital space this past week surrounds the launch of Snapchat’s (now Snap Inc’s) new camera glasses. On top of that has been everything from whether see-now, buy-now fashion week shows are actually driving sales, the fact McQueen and Chanel top a new CoolBrands list, and why LVMH’s digital drive is taking time despite its big Apple hire. Read on for a breakdown of everything you need to know…
Why Snapchat’s spectacles can succeed where Google Glass failed [AdAge]
With the autumn/winter 2016 fashion week season now behind us, it’s time to run the numbers, crunch the stats and crown the social media winners and losers of the month.
Or try to…
Conflicting data and contradictory reports on brand statistics are published daily during New York, London, Milan and Paris, making it increasingly difficult to compose an accurate picture of exactly what’s what. But, equally they enable lots of thought around social media trends in general and which way the industry is moving with what it uses, favours and finds the most success on.
During New York Fashion Week (NYFW), 427,000 images were shared on Instagram, generating more than 113 million social engagements (likes and comments), according to Traeger Communications. Year-on-year, this is a 47% increase in images and a 30% increase in engagements, proving that Instagram continues to be a powerful medium for brands that want to join in the fashion week conversation. Natalie Massenet, chairman of the British Fashion Council (BFC) added during London Fashion Week (LFW)’s launch that “97% of the BFC’s designers questioned in a survey were on Instagram”.
Designers embraced Snapchat to reach Generation Z
Snapchat exploded across fashion month, hitting all four fashion weeks in a big way. Social media uptake usually filters down through New York and London before reaching Milan and Paris a couple of seasons later, but the fashion industry couldn’t afford to ignore this trend. New designers joining included Tommy Hilfiger, Marc Jacobs, Mulberry, Gucci, Dior and more. “11% of social media activity around Paris Fashion Week (PFW) was attributed to Generation Z,” reported influencer engagement platform Zoomph, pointing in the direction of Snapchat particularly. Keen to establish brand loyalty with the next generation of consumers (Gen Z is considered to be anyone born after the mid-late 90s), brands used Snapchat to reach this sought after demographic where they already live. Snapchat’s core users are 13-24 years old.
Twitter is still relevant but sees less engagement
Contradicting general consensus, Zoomph reported that 98% of social media activity relating to PFW was on Twitter and only 2% on Instagram. Business intelligence firm L2 reported a similar trend during the Tommy Hilfiger show at NYFW. The designer posted 51 images on Instagram compared to 197 tweets. Mind you, much of that may be to do with the nature of the platform – fast-paced comments versus more considered images. Backing that is the fact that Tommy’s posts converted into 920,528 likes and comments on Instagram, while the larger number of posts on Twitter only saw a total of 30,971 likes and retweets in return.
Facebook lost ground but innovative product appeals
The social media platform largely associated with Millennials continued to fall out of favour with the fashion crowd. Facebook activity surrounding NYFW has declined year-on-year since 2014 according to the L2 report. The pay-to-play nature of the platform is said to be the reason why, with brands instead opting to focus resources elsewhere. Facebook is however experimenting in new spaces in a bid to garner renewed attention. Its Facebook 360 product allows users to experience virtual content first-hand by controlling the rotation on it themselves. Refinery 29 shot eight shows at NYFW using the immersive technology.
Others opted for a digital detox
While that debate rages on around fashion weeks transforming into consumer-facing events, others have been rejecting social media altogether. This season, Massimo Giorgetti banned social media from his MSGM show at Milan Fashion Week MFW) for instance, suggesting guests simply enjoy the show instead of watching it through their smartphones. A number of others did the same including Jacquemus in Paris and Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s brand The Row in New York. Belstaff also didn’t allow photographs to be taken of its capsule collection with Liv Tyler in London.
Luxury brands were outpaced by savvy collaborations
If they weren’t banning it, they were doing the total opposite and teaming up with celebs in order to hit the biggest numbers of social media instead. Rihanna modelling her own Fenty x Puma collection for instance caused an enormous stir with 140,000 tweets being posted about it, according to Amobee Brand Intelligence. That was nearly 100,000 more than Ralph Lauren achieved in the same time period (47,000) and almost double that of Michael Kors (71,000). By comparison, Kanye West opened NYFW at Madison Square Gardens with his Yeezy season 3 collection to an audience of 18,000. On social media that generated 800,000 tweets.
Supermodels and influencers ruled
Once again the choice of models taking to the catwalk also appeared to be just as important as the clothes on show. High-profile names including Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner shared backstage insights with their own millions of followers – the former also doing a stellar job launching Tommy Hilfiger’s Snapchat account. A shot of the duo swapping hair colours for Balmain also exploded, generating the brand 144,000 likes and 3,500 comments. At NYFW, of the top 10 Instagram images by total engagements, eight were taken by models and influencers, including models and social influencers Jay Alvarrez and Alexis Ren, as well as Russian YouTube influencer Kate Clapp, according to data from Traeger Communications.
Kim killed it… again
One step ahead of younger sis Kendall was publicity machine Kim Kardashian West – who once again topped the social media leader boards across multiple platforms. Her promotion of the NYFW official app garnered nearly 800,000 engagements and was the most-successful image on Instagram during NYFW for instance. Kim also won Paris by posting a number of throwback images from the AW15 season as well as a controversial-yet-censored naked shot of herself that commanded a hefty 1.6 million likes.
While anything new in social media normally hits New York and London fashion weeks first, taking several seasons to finally get to Milan and Paris, Snapchat seems to be bucking that trend.
Yes the platform launched back in 2011, and yes it has been used at fashion weeks before too, but if there’s one thing the past month has proved, it’s how many more brands have willingly taken the plunge.
New York saw new accounts launch from Tommy Hilfiger (in partnership with supermodel Gigi Hadid) and Marc Jacobs, as well as two dedicated stories from Snapchat shared throughout the week. London meanwhile, also saw some exciting work, with a dedicated story created by Burberry for the channel, and further new accounts from the likes of Mulberry and Mr Porter.
Once we hit Milan, much of the same continued, with some great insights behind-the-scenes from the likes of Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci particularly. Over to Paris, and H&M used the platform to get its viewers to help choose which shoes from its show should be sold in store in September (inviting them to take a screenshot to vote). Balmain was also on there documenting its bevy of supermodels and their new hair colours, Stella McCartney playfully added lots of emojis, and Valentino handed the reins of its account over to blogger Bryan Boy.
Dior was a bit of a surprise with its launch – providing another behind-the-scenes tour with further emojis splashed on top (who would have thought it!) And for all those wanting more, Snapchat provided yet another dedicated catwalk story throughout as well.
Here are some of the Milan and Paris brand highlights:
The fashion industry is undergoing significant structural change; from the way it delivers its collections, to how it promotes them to both the industry and its consumers. Where traditionally there are big time lags between fashion week shows and the products then hitting the shop floor, increasingly there’s a race to get items into the hands of shoppers as fast as possible in order to capitalize on the hype the digital era has generated.
The whole debate is an intensely complex one, from the very nature of luxury down to how it affects multi-brand retailers, traditional buyers and more. From a logistical perspective it means big changes on the back-end in terms of manufacturing and supply chain timelines. While on the front end, it also means facilitating the purchases themselves in numerous new ways.
This consumer-facing part of the debate has so far been the one most explored. As brands including Burberry through to Rebecca Minkoff have announced their intentions to move to a real-time model, meaning you can see the collection in fashion week and buy it immediately (#seebuywear), they have introduced interesting tech-enabled initiatives to facilitate it. This is about more than just e-commerce pages made live in the moment after the show, or capsule collections hitting flagship stores (even if that does include newbies like Prada), and rather some valid digital partnerships that enhance the shopping experience.
The key thing here is the shift from designers putting budget into technology for the sake of it at fashion weeks, to rather spending on something that is going to impact the business from an ROI point of view. It’s about entertainment to drive conversions; not just engagement, likes and new followers.
There’s a lot for the industry to figure out in terms of making this a viable move across the board from the operational standpoint (and as yet little clarity as to how those who have said they’re doing it are structurally making that happen), but for now, there’s at least a willingness to experiment with what it looks like for consumers.
Head over to Forbes for an outline of those moves from the likes of Burberry, Rebecca Minkoff, Misha Nonoo and Temperley London.
If there’s one channel that seems to be winning this fashion week season, it’s Snapchat. While Instagram still lives on as its polished and beautiful counterpart, Snapchat is increasingly becoming the preeminent channel to build hype for a designer, if only for the fact it feels so genuinely like you’re getting an inside look at something going on.
Over to Milan yesterday, and next up was Gucci, which used Snapchat to reveal its partnership with street artist GucciGhost, aka Trouble Andrew. You’ll have already spotted the actual collaboration pieces taking to the catwalk – graffiti on skirts, handbags and emblazoned across the back of jackets.
On Snapchat, Andrew was also seen creating his artwork around the show venue; both outside and as a backdrop for the models. Graffiti lives both in the real world and as designs on top of the Snapchat content. Once the show began, he also shared close-ups on his collaborative designs as they walked down the runway.
The relationship with Gucci came following Andrew increasingly using the #guccighost designs – a play on the interlocked GG logo – across his own social channels, as well as in wall art and on vintage clothing. The idea literally sparked from creating two holes in a Gucci sheet and going as the “Gucci Ghost” to Halloween one year.
As Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele, told WWD: “I saw the way Trevor [Trouble Andrew’s real name] was using the symbol of the company and I thought it was quite genius. It’s completely different than the idea of copying. It’s the idea that you try to [take to] the street, through language like graffiti, the symbols of the company.”
Needless to say, it’s representative of the new way of creative thinking and revived spirit Michele is bringing to the Gucci house; all of which is making us obsessed with the brand once again.
“Certainly this is the boldest collaboration of a major brand with an artist since [the Louis Vuitton-Stephen Sprouse] series orchestrated by Marc Jacobs (Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince and Yayoi Kusama following Sprouse), and the flashiest. And it’s the first time a major fashion brand has enlisted an artist that it has so inspired to such an audacious degree,” writes Bridget Foley for WWD.
On Gucci’s Instagram, Michele was quoted as saying: “I took the most interesting things of @troubleandrew’s and I asked if I could re-customize them. I find it interesting that the GG pattern has made this circle around the world. I customized his work and he says I’m like a doctor who treats them, makes them better. He puts in his culture, I have mine. The two things together are good. Diversity always produces something interesting,”
He added: “Trevor’s language is authentic; Trevor is authentic. He lives in Brooklyn, he knows Gucci. The way he used the color, the way he’s translating our power is real. I wanted to put [his work] into the collection to give this kind of language real life; it’s just another face of the brand. And also, I love the idea of what is real and unreal.”
On his work being revealed, Andrew added: “I can’t wait for this stuff to come out. It’s validation for my craziness.”
“If you build a consistent, legible, aspirational brand image, you don’t need a six month media blitz to warm consumers up to a new collection – they already know what they’re buying into. If Saint Laurent – a Kering brand – hit the runway and the shop racks simultaneously, it would sell briskly, and Pinault knows it. His comments indicate a cautious approach to a complex, risky restructuring more than philosophical position,” Wray continued.
He ended on the idea of Pinault wanting to learn from others’ mistakes, a move all too evident from the luxury industry’s initial lack of willingness to embrace all the challenges (and opportunities) the digital era has brought. I have consistently heard – even with every new social media platform – the desire to first know which competitors are already on board before many of them have also opted to take the leap. It comes as no great shock that Burberry was one of the first major players to announce its move to an in-season consumer calendar; it has long been the first on all of these fronts, from its early uptake of all things digital, to its more agile supply chain system influenced heavily by CRM data.
Unsurprisingly over in Paris however, Pinault is not the only one thinking otherwise. The Fédération Française de la Couture du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode is sticking by its guns and will shun the consumer-show shift too, reports WWD.
“As far as we are concerned, the present system is still valid,” said federation president Ralph Toledano.
He previously commented: “The fashion industry is a huge success, our companies are growing very healthily and business is excellent… We are not going to be ruled by technology.” Indeed, let’s not forget that for many brands in Paris, while technology is surely a consideration, such steps into embracing digital have, to this day, still fallen short of actually launching e-commerce; and this is in spite of the fact we know that digital today now influences 60% of all luxury purchases.
The thinking around whether or not to adapt Paris Fashion Week was also taken to a board of broader industry players off the back of the CFDA’s announcement in the US that it had hired the Boston Consulting Group to look into whether to make New York Fashion Week a consumer-facing affair. They included Dior CEO Sidney Toledano, Chanel’s president of fashion Bruno Pavlovsky, Saint Laurent CEO Francesca Bellettini, and Hermès executive vice president of manufacturing division and equity investments Guillaume de Seynes.
Sticking with the status quo is now also being backed by brands including Nina Ricci, Chloé, Agnes b., Issey Miyake, Isabel Marant, Balenciaga, Lanvin, Sonia Rykiel, Leonard, Dries Van Noten, Maison Margiela, Paul Smith and Kenzo.
To be fair, Ralph Toledano does go on to list a multitude of reasons why such moves are so complicated (understandably), and thus at this stage deemed unnecessary – from managing the supply chain and its purposeful scheduling, to balancing embargoes with press and buyers (although that latter part seems very do-able frankly, especially if they’re used to it in other cities).
But, it must be said, and as Wray essentially pointed out, this does also feel somewhat like another case of Paris lagging behind its counterparts, as it has done with so much of digital. The issue is, the case of waiting for the right “me-too” moment may at some point finally catch up with some of these brands.