How make-up swatches became a political battleground [Dazed]
In hype beast homes, Supreme accessories are the hot decor [Fashionista]
How are you thinking about innovation? 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.
River Island’s latest campaign is a twist on popular British TV show, First Dates, designed to capture the reactions of unsuspecting men as their dates switch outfits.
Three female actresses were hired to go on the real dates (from a long term relationship to an actual first meet), but then gradually changed their looks throughout the course of the evening. The responses of their male company were secretly filmed.
“Do you notice the little things that change right before your eyes? Scientists have been studying ‘change blindness’ for decades, and we at River Island decided to throw on our lab coats and put the phenomenon to the test,” the write-up reads.
The campaign is accompanied by editorial helping shoppers find outfits to wear on a date, as well as a competition for them to win a trip to Paris and a £200 shopping spree in the River Island Style Studio.
Donald Trump’s first week as President has been quite something… for this industry, it’s the overhaul on trade deals particularly to keep an eye on, as outlined by Bloomberg below. Elsewhere, the past seven days have been all about British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman stepping down, through to lots more in the way of technical detail from the couture shows in Paris.
Also worth reading is the BoF’s piece on automation, a view on what the store of the future looks like now we have Amazon Go, and the unveiling of the first dress made with graphene.
Nike and Ford caught in crossfire of Trump’s trade overhaul [Bloomberg]
British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman steps down [Vogue]
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.
River Island has become the first UK fashion retailer to use Google’s Local Inventory Ads (LIAs) in an effort to bridge its on and offline presence.
Based on location technology in a user’s mobile device, the LIA will display River Island products directly to shoppers searching for relevant items nearby. For instance, and as per the image below, if the user is on the hunt for a black dress or a bomber jacket in their standard Google search, it will surface River Island product first and foremost (listed as sponsored and also including a map on the ‘shopping’ search page, as well as distance to that particular store).
To achieve that, a retailer must provide a well-organised inventory of product and have set a high enough bid within the Google system. Clicking on the ad for the user will then take them to a Google ‘Local Storefront’ page, where they are provided with further information on the product, retailer, price, nearby location, opening hours and a link to purchase online if applicable.
In searching for the most seamless shopping experience for its consumer, River Island elected to only feature products available both in store and online in the ads. To do so, the company solicited the collaborative efforts of its retail, digital marketing and IT departments, along with the help of inventory feed provider Intelligent Reach for a unity of product offerings.
The project has proven successful thus far, with sales numbers climbing accordingly: 6% of clicks on the mobile-based LIAs resulted in a store visit, an increase of 17% compared to standard shopping campaigns. When looking at return on investment, the numbers were equally compelling with a 15% rise in return-on-ad-spend and a 33% increase in total sales (both on and offline).
Josie Cartridge, customer director at River Island, said: “We’re pleased with the results of our LIA activity so far and it’s good to see targeted mobile activity driving sales in-store as well as online. Mobile offers us lots of opportunity to enhance the shopping experience through location technology and stock information and we’re excited to keep working with Google and developing in this area.”
In an effort to keep the growth consistent, River Island plans to invest further into its LIA strategy. The retailer has expressed interest in using in-store beacons to collect even more accurate store visit data which can be applied towards its LIA automated bidding strategy.
It also recently launched its Christmas campaign starring Caroline Vreeland and Shea Marie of Peace Loves Shea as they get ready for a festive night out. You can also check out the rest of this year’s seasonal films, here.
The Wall Street Journal has a deep-dive story on just what it takes to produce all the imagery for Farfetch’s listed boutiques. Every weekday, it posts an average of more than 1,000 new listings, each with at least five different photographs. Alongside that, perhaps appropriately, comes a new set of stats about Amazon, proving the fact it’s expected to surpass Macy’s to become the biggest apparel seller in the US next year.
Sustainability is also top of mind within the industry of late, with lots of ongoing thoughts around Everlane’s transparency claims and Patagonia’s slow fashion aims. Also worth reading this week are various Snapchat campaigns, not to mention some insights on the pros and cons of retail technology. Don’t forget to also sign up for our Snapchat Masterclass before the early bird rate ends on Oct 31.
Where luxury fashion is a high-speed, high-volume business – on site with the photography crew at Farfetch [WSJ]
Radical transparency: Are H&M and Zara actually more transparent than Everlane? [The Fashion Law]
Amazon is expected to surpass Macy’s to become the biggest apparel seller in the US next year [Business Insider]
Vine video-sharing app to be shut down by Twitter [The Guardian]
Alibaba takes Singles’ Day to global buyers, sellers [China Daily]
Sales surge at Kering’s Gucci, slip at sister brand [Yahoo]
American innovation: 5 questions with Shinola CMO Bridget Russo [BrandChannel]
How Outdoor Voices founder Tyler Haney plans to grow the brand into the next Nike [Fashionista]
In an age of fast fashion, Patagonia is going slow [Yahoo]
Following the screenshots: How Topshop is hacking Snapchat [Digiday]
Everlane’s social strategy: drive community engagement, not sales [Glossy]
Why Snapchat is winning out over Pinterest for River Island [The Drum]
H&M and Kenzo leverage iOS iMessage integration [Glossy]
REI’s ‘#OptOutside’ returns, and other brands have joined to help make it a new American tradition [Creativity]
Target channels Hamilton and The Nutcracker for holiday campaign aimed at Hispanic shoppers [AdWeek]
A few days before New York Fashion Week begins and needless to say much of the focus is on those plans – from Tommy Hilfiger’s carnival to Misha Nonoo’s Snapchat show, not to mention an update on Google that will see fashion brands curating what their search results look like pertaining to the new season.
Also hitting the headlines over the past week has been everything from M&S cutting head office jobs, Smashbox’s virtual reality campaign and our interview with Westfield’s Lindsey Thomas. Don’t forget to check out our full list of upcoming events at the bottom too…
This fashion week, Google gets a new look [NY Times]
Condé Nast’s Style.com is now open for business [The Industry]
Tom Ford makes comeback at Venice festival with his second movie [Reuters]
H&M open entries for 2nd annual innovation grant [Fashionista]
Marks & Spencer looks to cut up to 500 jobs at London head office [The Guardian]
How online fashion companies use data to enhance sales [Fashion United]
It’s been a big week for Snapchat announcements in the fashion space, with new campaigns and some innovative thinking coming out of a very diverse set of brands: New York designer Misha Nonoo, American retailer Ann Taylor Loft, and British high street store River Island.
Here’s a breakdown of what each of them are doing…
Womenswear designer Misha Nonoo is foregoing the typical New York Fashion Week show once more this season and presenting a “live lookbook” on Snapchat via Refinery29’s account instead.
Combining much of what Snapchat has to offer – from stills to videos, not to mention the native illustrations possible on the app – it aims to be a fun interpretation of the designer’s “day to play” ethos. The partnership with Refinery29 also cements the brand’s intention to hit the millennial consumer.
“Our customers lead enriched, full lives, they are constantly on- the-go. I want to reach them where I know they are, on their mobile devices,” Nonoo explains. “Snapchat is a recent discovery for me, and it has put the fun back into social media. I want to inject that same creative, experimental energy into how I present and share my collection.”
The content will go live starting at 10am EST on Wednesday, September 7. Every piece will then be immediately available for purchase via the brand’s new direct-to-consumer site MishaNonoo.com. It marks a significant moment for the brand of exiting from all wholesale accounts in order to focus solely on e-commerce. It also follows a number of experiments by Nonoo using Instagram as a shoppable lookbook.
Ann Taylor Loft
Shoppable is also the focus for Ann Taylor Loft’s new foray into Snapchat. The American retailer is using Snapchat Memories to upload product shots of items it featured in a recent Story, meaning it can save and share further detail on things it has otherwise referenced in a more informal sense.
The brand also includes the style number and the unique SKU on each shot so that it can be Googled to get to the relevant e-commerce product page, reports Glossy. While Snapchat isn’t directly shoppable, this workaround solution has the potential to drive at least some traffic, not to mention trackable data for the brand.
As Thomas Rankin, CEO of social analytics firm Dash Hudson, told Glossy: “You’re never going to remember that style number. But if it’s something you saved and care about, it makes it easier to find it later. It’s better than having no way of finding it at all. On Instagram, there are a couple of different ways to shop, but for Snapchat, this is particularly important, because there is no other way.”
British high street store River Island meanwhile is bringing the Snapchat game into the real world, with a “Snap & Share” campaign that encourages shoppers to engage with the app when in store.
The retailer has developed a number of bespoke branded filters that customers can add to their Snapchat posts and stories exclusively when they’re in one of the 280 UK and ROI River Island shops.
The filters fit with the brand’s new polaroid-inspired advertising campaign (as below), but will vary and update across the season. Customers are then invited to share their images across further social channels to be in with the chance of winning a £1,000 shopping spree and a digital camera.
“When devising a plan for the launch of our new autumn/winter campaign, we wanted to explore new innovation and technology, seeking a fresh way for us to connect and engage with River Island customers. We decided to use Snapchat for its mass reach, popularity and ability to cut through to consumers with strong, creative content,” said Josie Roscop, marketing director of River Island.
River Island is going tech-heavy following the opening of a new Shoreditch, London, facility this month. The high street fashion brand has opened a centre that includes both an office and “digital collaboration space” for 70 staffers.
CEO Ben Lewis said: “River Island has placed technology at the core of our strategy, implementing ground up investment and ensuring everyone within the company thinks and operates in a digital first way.
“This will be our digital collaboration. We are expanding our tech function as a whole. We are plugging into something new as we move forward, positioning our thinking and development against the very best in the tech sector. We want to be renowned in the industry as pioneers, seeking out the best people and nurturing talent.”
Privately-owned River Island is one of the most successful of the high street chains in Britain and also operates globally with over 350 stores in total, several online sites serving its domestic and international customers and a giant design team of around 90 who create all its product in-house. It has also been involved in a number of designer collaborations with higher-end labels such as Christopher Shannon and Sibling.
Last year, when River Island announced that it would open the new tech hub, CIO, Doug Gardner said it was partly about attracting the most talented people to the firm but also that he didn’t want it to be a place where tech projects are worked on in secret without full collaboration with the wider business.
At the time he suggested that different teams would work there on rotation with designers as well as techies. And Gardner also said a lot of store projects would be run from Shoreditch with the retail and marketing teams on-site.
This determination to embrace technology is a reflection of the way m-commerce has grown to be a crucial channel for retailers in just a short period of time and how the industry expects tech to shake up retail and the marketing of retail even more in the future, from chatbot customer service to augmented reality and even to robots in-store.
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]