Welcome to the world of glitz and glamour, or in other words - Fashion Month. Each week of September is spent in the "Big Four" - New York, London, Milan and Paris – the fashion capitals of the world, where press and media gather to see what’s going to be big in the fashion scene. Fashion month is also an enormous opportunity for brands to re-engage with existing audiences, reach new ones, as well as inspire and influence trends.
That said, standing out could be a challenge during this crowded period. So, the importance of cutting through the clutter among the best in the business is a priority. In order to attract attention, you can’t rely only on the pieces of clothing, regardless of how amazing they are. You need a strategy in place! Knowing and utilising the USPs of your brand in a strategic way can help you create a memorable experience, attract new fans and ultimately, drive sales. So, how can you get that increasingly disappearing customer and influencer attention? And what should you focus on to make a splash? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Don't be afraid to embrace technology
Think you’re a fashion brand? Think again. Technology is the future and, technically speaking, ever brand today is a technology brand. Yours just happened to be focused on fashion. And learning to embrace the tech tools at our disposal can work wonders, if used with a plan in mind.
For the Tommyland Spring-Summer 2017 fashion show, Tommy Hilfiger partnered with visual search app Slyce to turn each aspect of its fashion show a piece of marketing. The TOMMYLAND SNAP:SHOP app allowed users to purchase their favourite looks as soon as they see them on the runway or are recognised at any pop-up shop, billboard or print ads. This moved potential customers from the discovery to the purchasing stage much quicker than usual. The results were great! One-third of the app users were first time visitors, the average time browsing on the website and visiting additional show content like social media feed and videos, increased. Embracing the format, creating each piece of content into a piece of marketing is essential.
Another brand that’s embraced the see-now-buy-now concept is Rebecca Minkoff. The brand partnered with app Zeekit during New York Fashion Week Fall-Winter 2016 for a “virtual try-on” which allowed customers to upload a full-body picture and see themselves with their favourite items, immediately following the show. They could also use the app to scan models models they see online, in-stores or print media.
The app also allows users to mix and match the Rebecca Minkoff products with other brands’ items such as Michael Kors and Calvin Klein, share them with friends and purchase through the app. This showed that the brand recognised that there’s no full customer loyalty and the importance of giving people choice for an improved customer experience.
Collaborate and partner
Collaborations and partnerships can help brands reach more potential customers and new audiences. This could be either by teaming up with fellow businesses or, even better, influencers and social personalities. It’s no wonder that influencer marketing is on the rise, with 80% of fashion and beauty brands leaning on bloggers as part of their marketing.
Emerging fashion brand Sabinna, for example, partnered with 14 influencers based in both the US and UK to launch her new line. The designer gave each blogger one full look from her new collection. During fashion month, each day a different blogger posted a look from the line on Instagram Stories, encouraging their followers to Swipe up and purchase it. This created an avalanche effect and a win-win situation for Sabinna and fashion lovers around the world - rather than doing a single 10-minute fashion show, the activation made Sabinna and her collection relevant during the entire fashion month. The fact that the pieces were available to buy straight away also make it accessible to fans of the brand. This is a cost-effective way to showcase your pieces and engage with a broader audience that goes beyond a physical space.
Designer Misha Nonoo, on the other hand, worked together with Instagram to create the first “Insta-show”, presenting her entire Spring 2016 collection through a live stream during New York Fashion Week. In order to showcase the whole collection, when customers turned their phones horizontally during the show’s live stream, they could swipe left and scroll through all the looks. The fashion show had no physical audience – everyone was invited to join online! The unusual catwalk led to higher conversions for pre-orders and existing collections.
Excite and entertain
Creating a memorable experience, especially involving the audience, can help turn a fashion show from a passive presentation to an interactive event.
Known for its extravagant and bold designs, Gucci applies its creative thinking to its fashion shows as much as it does to its clothes. During the 2018 Milan Fashion Week, models were carrying accessories such as dragon puppies, iguanas, faun horns and even 3D printed replicas of THEIR OWN HEADS. Can you believe it? Despite the whole replica-making process taking 6 months, the results were mind-blowing (literally). The memorable show inspired a creation of many memes and the hashtag #GucciChallenge dominated in social media space, creating further shout-out to the brand.
Rag & Bone gave another type of experience at the 2019 New York Fashion Week. Guests wearing the brand’s latest collection were invited to an unusual dinner where their conversations and actions were monitored and filmed by an Al robot. All of the footage was fed into a system called ‘A Distinguished Guest’ which recorder and identified the objects it was seeing. “After it finished identifying those things it would continue writing about what it sees,” Aaron Duffy, creative lead and founder of SpecialGuest, told Vogue. “That was probably the part that was most abstract for the people there. Ross has trained the AI on prose and poetry... After it would identify that the table was made from wood it would continue to say something poetic about it – something pretty abstract.”
Make inclusivity an imperative
Fashion has always been seen as an exclusive club, with one of the many reasons being the lack of representation and inclusivity. However, as consumers are voting with their wallets and calling out brands that don’t reflect EVERYONE in their marketing and products, designers are increasingly having to rethink their “exclusive club” approach. Brands that create with everyone in mind receive not just praise but loyal client base.
Take Rihanna’s Savage line, for example. During New York Fashion Week 18/19, the whole Savage x Fenty lingerie fashion show screamed inclusivity - from the diverse set of models (think ethnicity, race and size) to the lingerie line itself (bra sizes range from 32A to 44D). Rihanna even featured the heavily pregnant model Slick Woods, to walk the runaway (Woods gave birth shortly after the show). The goal of the line is to “encourage confidence and strength”, as Rihanna says herself. After the successful fashion show, the US and UK retailers increased the number of size-inclusive lingerie styles by 34%.
The same way, Chromat – a bodywear and swimwear brand - offers sizes XS-4X to customers with an empowering message that “everybody is worthy of love and acceptance”. Their New York Fashion Week show featured models with varying appearances including women in hijabs, a breast cancer survivor, girl with an amputated leg and LGBTQ+ models. The show generated lots of media attention and portrayed as a celebration to one diverse world, that is not scared to praise and accept differences.
Combining your brand message with the customers’ wants and needs using innovative methods, is the perfect way to stay relevant and stand out. Because
“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
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