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business Campaigns

3 ways fashion brands weighed in on the US midterm elections

Tory Burch
Tory Burch

Fashion companies used to avoid dipping into politics, but with society facing greater polarisation than ever, consumers are expecting their favorite brands to speak up.

More than half of US consumers (52%) said a brand’s position on social or environmental issues would impact their holiday buying decisions this year, up three points from 2017, according to research published this week by The NPD Group.

“In this midterm election year, political polarization and activism is on the rise in this country, and it’s bleeding into the upcoming holiday season, especially among younger consumers,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor of The NPD Group.

With customers becoming more aware of what they support with their dollars, retailers don’t want to look like another callous corporation, but getting activism-based association right, is a challenge of authenticity.

Check out these three initiatives major brands took in the run-up to the US midterm elections:
 

Political backing from Patagonia
Patagonia
Patagonia

Known for its environmental activism, outdoor brand Patagonia took a step further this election. Not only did it join the Time to Vote campaign by closing stores nationwide to give employees the opportunity to get to their local polling stations, but it also made its first political endorsements in the brand’s history, supporting Democratic candidates Jackie Rosen and Jon Tester.

“The company is endorsing candidates for the first time this year because of the urgent and unprecedented threats to our public lands and waters. Nevada and Montana are two states where Patagonia has significant company history and a long record of conservation accomplishments, and where the stakes are too high to stay silent,” the company said in a statement.

In addition, the brand launched an entire section of its website to help customers “make a voting plan”, with links to information about candidates and polling places.
 

T-shirt endorsement from Moda Operandi, Tory Burch and Carbon 38
Moda Operandi
Moda Operandi

Limited-edition tees with “Vote” signs were on sale at numerous retailers to drive awareness around increased voter turnout. Moda Operandi even created a trunk show called “Vote 2018” dedicated to selling them. Tory Burch’s tee was among those featured on the luxury e-commerce site, with the proceeds going to Yara Shahidi’s Eighteen x 18. Prabal Gurung’s bamboo-cotton tee was also on sale, and sold out, with proceeds supporting Rock the Vote.

Activewear brand Carbon38 created 300 tanks emblazoned with “I Am a Voter”, producing a second run after selling out. All of the proceeds support groups including Democracy Works, Headcount, Nonprofit Vote, Rock the Vote, Vote.org, #VoteTogether, Voto Latino and When We All Vote.

“We noticed heavier-than-usual traffic on our site and likely reached a broader demographic than just our core customer since so many people are proud and compassionate about this,” said Carbon38 co-founder and CEO, Katie Warner Johnson, to WWD.
 

Voting booths at Levi’s
Levi's
Levi’s

Another participant in the Time to Vote campaign, Levi Strauss & Co also went above and beyond to encourage turnout. The brand worked with Rock the Vote to install 40 voter registration booths in Levi’s stores.

According to the brand’s president and CEO, Chip Bergh, the current divided political climate and government’s failure to provide for society are pushing companies to weigh in. “We are a $5 billion company. I have a platform that would be wasted if we are not taking advantage to make a difference in this world”, he said at the Fast Company Innovation Festival in New York last week.

Bergh explained the business operates with a concept called “profits through principles”: every year it gives a certain percentage of its profits as a company to its foundation. “Through the foundation, we execute a lot of goodwill towards the communities and the society.”

With so many different social issues to choose from, brands have a responsibility to pick causes that align with their values. As Bergh puts it: “If you stand for everything, you stand for nothing. We’ve had to be deliberate about the spots we’re going to weigh in on.”

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.

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digital snippets social media

Digital snippets: Michael Kors, Rebecca Minkoff, Vivienne Tam, Marc Jacobs, Zac Posen

From New York to London, and everything in between, here’s a mega round-up of all the latest stories surrounding fashion and tech…

MarcJacobs_mjdaisychain

  • Rebecca Minkoff gives inside look at fashion week with Keek app [Mashable]
  • Vivienne Tam’s WeChat partnership delivers NYFW front-row access [Jing Daily]
  • Marc Jacobs opens fashion week pop-up that accepts Tweets as payment (as pictured) [Fashionista]
  • Zac Posen curated a Spotify playlist for his new lookbook [Styleite]
  • Alexander Wang showed colour-changing clothes during fashion week [Technical.ly]
  • Warby Parker tops list of top 10 retail innovators [Fast Company]
  • London Fashion Week: Nokia and Fyodor Golan create ‘world’s first’ smart skirt [Marketing]
  • Net-a-Porter puts its fashion sense on paper in new print magazine [BrandChannel]
  • Miu Miu unveils ‘Spark and Light’ short film [WWD]
  • Sass & Bide launches 360-degree shoppable ad [PSFK]
  • Bloomingdale’s hosts live-styling event on Instagram to drive interaction [Luxury Daily]
  • The new Moda Operandi app is like Tinder for designer clothes [NY Observer]
  • Instagram is shaping up to be the world’s most powerful selling tool [Forbes]
  • Seven ways retailers are embracing tech, from body scanning to digital wallets [AdAge]
  • What’s so alluring about a woman known as Man Repeller? [NY Mag]
Categories
e-commerce

Red carpet dresses from Met Gala to be sold online via Moda Operandi – will it work?

gala-punk-chaos-to-couture

It’s interesting to hear Moda Operandi is using its sponsorship of next week’s annual Costume Institute’s Met Gala in New York – a foremost date on the fashion calendar – to attempt to monetise the red carpet.

The luxury e-tailer, which started out as a site selling looks straight off the runway, will be making both dresses and accessories worn at the ball available for purchase on its site from the next day. According to Mashable, 10 pieces (in total) from designers including Rodarte, Nina Ricci and Wes Gordon, will be on sale for one week.

This strikes a chord on the one hand – surely there’s a huge market of people wanting to buy looks immediately off the backs of their favourite celebs after they’ve worn them? Ahh, but then you remember the price tag: $5,000, $10,000, $30,000 for the average Met Gala look? Not so conducive to the average online shopper.

But then this is Moda Operandi, the upper echelons of luxury; run, no less, by a team that The Wall Street Journal recently referred to as “society 3.0”. Its customers already spend an average of $1,500 per transaction, with a record single order of $90,000.

There was a great piece about said luxury consumers in The Guardian recently too: “A new breed of fashion obsessed ‘supercustomer’ is challenging retailers’ assumptions about the maximum sums that can be spent at the click of a mouse. Luxury online retailer Net-a-Porter.com is preparing to sell its most expensive ever item – a dress with a pricetag of £32,000. Six of the embellished red dresses by Italian label Dolce & Gabanna have been ordered by Net-a-Porter’s buyers – and the online boutique is confident that all will sell,” it reads.

Ultimately therefore, what all is that different about these pieces from Moda other than the fact they’ve got the kudos of (hopefully) a topnotch A-list star, and if rumours are anything to go by on who wears what, also Anna Wintour’s seal of approval?

As Elizabeth Paton questions on the FT’s Material World blog however: “For starters, are the Moda Operandi A-list clientele – aka women who can drop between $5-50,000 on a single purchase – really the types to be sitting in watching a video live stream on a Tuesday night? I doubt it and imagine (though of course can’t predict) that the sales figures will reflect this.”

She continues: “Secondly, some industry figures say that the ‘celebrity factor’ holds less clout with the 0.1% elite than with the rest of the 99.9% luxury buying masses. In Vanessa’s post-Oscars blog in February, the chief executive of one haute joaillerie brand told her that customers after the really expensive pieces often told staff specifically that they only wanted jewellery that have never been worn before, or even photographed on someone else, which meant they ended up keeping their most exclusive product firmly under wraps. That is to say, in the very upper echelons of luxury spending, there’s no value added from the ‘who wore what’ factor – if anything, it can detract.”

Whether it therefore works next week will remain to be seen. According to Moda’s director of ready-to-wear, Indre Rockefeller, however, a previous similar attempt has already been successful. Apparently the $4,695 Prabal Gurung dress actress Jennifer Lawrence wore to the LA premiere of The Hunger Games, and a dress she wore by the same designer to the 2013 Critics’ Choice Awards were both offered on the site. They attracted interest domestically and internationally, particularly in areas that don’t have access to retail environments that carry those designers, she told Mashable.

So let’s face it, even if just one or two of the items sell post Met Gala, at those sort of prices it’ll be a worthwhile return on extra investment, if not for the additional publicity it will also generate, which is, after all, the entire point of their sponsorship.

Note: The Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibition is open to the public from May 9 until August 14. Moda Operandi is also releasing a capsule collection on May 2 tied to the punk theme, as shown in the video below.

Categories
digital snippets e-commerce social media technology

Digital snippets: Dove, Versace Versus, Hussein Chalayan, DKNY Jeans, Google Glass

A round-up of recent stories from around the web surrounding all things fashion and digital:

  • How those Dove ‘Real Beauty Sketch’ ads went viral [Business Week]
  • But… Dove’s got a new viral video, is it enough to sell soap? [AdAge]
  • And… the perfect parody of Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches… for men (as above) [AdWeek]
  • Versace aims for younger, digital-savvy consumers with Versus rebrand [Luxury Daily]
  • Hussein Chalayan debuts line on a holographic catwalk [PSFK]
  • DKNY Jeans expands social media presence [Fashionotes]
  • Robert Scoble review: I just wore Google’s glasses for two weeks and I’m never taking them off [Business Insider]
  • The click clique: the ladies behind Moda Operandi [WSJ]
  • Farfetch’s new retail plan could revolutionise e-commerce [Fashionista]
  • What the heck is P-commerce? [Mashable]
Categories
digital snippets e-commerce technology Uncategorized

Digital snippets: Burberry, Badgley Mischka, Rebecca Minkoff, Mr Porter

Some more great stories from around the web surrounding all things fashion and digital over the past week:

  • Burberry’s Angela Ahrendts: high tech’s fashion model [Fortune]
  • Badgley Mischka teams up with Bergdorfs to preview resort collection on Pinterest [NY Times]
  • Rebecca Minkoff credits Instagram with 100% spring shoe sale growth (as pictured) [Luxury Daily]
  • Mr Porter and TV show ‘Suits’ team up for digital fashion experience [Mashable]
  • Moda Operandi raises $36m, expands from pre-commerce to e-commerce [BoF]
  • How shopping and fashion apps are taking over Facebook [Venture Beat]
  • To pay or not to pay: a closer look at the business of blogging [WWD]
Categories
Uncategorized

#SXSW Interactive: Fashion’s greatest challenge lies in realigning production with communications

“If I were the CEO of a major fashion brand today, my focus would be on trying to compress the production cycle so it realigned with communications,” Imran Amed, founder and editor of The Business of Fashion, said at SXSW earlier this week.

Speaking on a panel called Who needs a fashion cycle? I’ve got social media, he explained that we’re at the beginning of a seismic change in the way consumers communicate with each other, make decisions, and ultimately purchase.  It’s only by changing the operational side of what we do, he said, that we’re going to be able to catch up.

As we all know, the internet has revolutionised this industry. Where once fashion shows were private trade events, now they’re more consumer facing than ever before, highlighted Michelle Sadlier, global digital communications consultant for Karla Otto International, and moderator of the session.

Designer collections used to only be seen by the public when they hit shop floors six months later – or the pages of the magazines just before. Now they’re viewable in real-time. The likes of Twitter and Instagram, not to mention bloggers and live-streams, mean consumers have the same level of access, at exactly the same time, as those invited to the catwalk presentations.

The issue of course, is that the operational side of the process is still the same. Rather than speeding up alongside, production has remained a lengthy and complicated system. The user is subsequently seeing something online, that isn’t available to buy for a further four to six months.

This gap, said Chris Morton, founder and CEO of fashion discovery site Lyst, means brands are missing out on capturing that “intent to purchase at the point of inspiration”.

He referenced a handful of companies attempting to address this: Burberry’s Runway to Reality initiative – where viewers can shop straight from the catwalk for delivery in just eight weeks – for example, as well as start-up Moda Operandi, which offers a similar solution across a variety of brand names.

Lyst itself launched a Runway Tracking service last September, which at least reminds consumers of the items they liked, by sending them a notification once they’re available to buy.

Amed however, said while each of these ideas is attempting to work around the issues, they’re not actually solving the problem. This is the industry’s biggest challenge, he added, and there’s no easy solution.

One of his suggestions was to create two separate events around the shows. One small and quiet for trade to see the season ahead, and the other a big, all-out affair for consumers, timed so it’s in sync with the actual season. So in other words, shifting the position of the fashion show as we know it today, so it sits at the end of the cycle rather than the beginning.

Of course to do so, would mean skipping a season, something Natalie Massanet, founder of Net-a-Porter, first suggested to Amed in an interview in 2010. No mean feat to pull off…

Which takes us back full circle to the very first line of this post. At the end of the day the company that masters how to realign the production cycle with the communications one, will be the one that finds success. And the likeliest way of achieving that right now, is by focusing first on compressing operations.

Watch this space.

Categories
technology Uncategorized

#SXSW Interactive: a new must on the fashion calendar

I have just returned from the most incredible week at SXSW Interactive, where speakers varied from Al Gore and Sean Parker, to Ray Kurweil, Biz Stone and Dennis Crowley.

I’m in the midst of finishing off a piece on the key thoughts and ideas from the week – to be published elsewhere [UPDATE: if you’re interested please email me for a copy].

In the meantime, I wanted to write one very short and simple blogpost that says, if you’re a fashion brand aiming to achieve anything along the lines of digital success, you need to go next year.

SXSW is the place to hear industry leaders (aforementioned and more) give expert insights; it’s the place to learn about new innovations and source fresh inspirations; and it’s the place where trends and directions for the tech world break.

But more importantly, it’s the hottest place to network with anyone and everyone also working in this space. Serendipity as Mashable calls it here. From meeting new start-ups and coordinating with established platforms, to swapping ideas with those from your own industry, it’s the perfect playing ground for getting your head both in the game and ahead of the curve.

And if that isn’t convincing enough, it speaks volumes to see which brands are already doing it. There this year were teams from Burberry, Victoria’s Secret, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, DKNY, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorfs, Net-a-Porter and Moda Operandi… not to mention fashion-specific platforms including Lyst and publications from The Business of Fashion and WGSN, to Fashion’s Collective.

It was undoubtedly one of the most valuable experiences of my career to date.

I hope to see you there in 2013!

Categories
digital snippets technology Uncategorized

Digital snippets: Dior, Made Fashion Week, Moda Operandi, Bottega Veneta, Michael Kors, Dove

Some more great stories from around the web surrounding all things fashion and digital over the past week:

  • Dior gains most post likes on Facebook during January (see above chart) [WWD]
  • Sound technology enables real-time image sharing in Made Fashion Week’s new app [NY Times: Bits]
  • Fashion start-up Moda Operandi: now opening to the world [Mashable]
  • Behind-the-scenes as artist Jack Pierson works with Tomas Maier to create Bottega Veneta’s SS12 campaign, The Art of Collaboration [YouTube]
  • Michael Kors uses Twitter and Instagram in Valentine’s Day campaign [Luxury Daily]
  • Dove erects Valentine’s Day ‘tweet screen’ in London [Campaign]
  • YouTube beauty: top 10 channels to follow [Mashable]
Categories
digital snippets e-commerce Uncategorized

Digital snippets: #NYFW, Vogue, Oscar de la Renta, Bergdorf Goodman, Ted Baker, Topman, Lyst

Some more great stories from around the web surrounding all things fashion and digital over the past week:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  • How fashion bloggers gain access to New York Fashion Week [Mashable]
  • Vogue collaborates with online luxury retailer Moda Operandi to offer SS12 designer collections straight off the runway [PR Newswire]
  • Oscar de la Renta launches community-driven Tumblr page ahead of #NYFW show [WWD]
  • Bergdorf Goodman invites footwear obsessives to share pics via Instagram for Shoes About Town campaign [5th/58th]
  • Topman enters Facebook-commerce with new storefront on fan page [Media Week]
  • Lyst launches Runway Tracking, enabling users to tag favourite items ready for notification as they hit store [Mashable]