Social Media: the Main Runway for Fashion Industry

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Few weeks ago, I wrote an article for Social Media Today on the importance of digital world for fashion. I definitely think it was key during the last Paris fashion week.

 

Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture is just over, and we’re already preparing Fashion Week Ready-to-Wear Fall/Winter 2012/2013 Collection.

Social Media has never been as important as this year. Bloggers are now invited to sit on the front rows, not only focusing on early-days streetstyles. They work closely with brands on the marketing side, but are also more and more involved in the creative process. Karl Lagerfeld regulary meets bloggers. Alexandre de Betak, one of the most famous Art Directors, is now contributing to Caroline Daily’s personal blog. A real revolution in the fashion world.

Because the microcosm was pretty reluctant to this “democratization  of fashion through digital, especially of high fashion“.But few trends changed the rules: Social Media is now the most important runway. An everlasting runway, that changes players, shareholders, reputation and creativity.

A professionalization of digital fashion influencers

Fashion bloggers aren’t just cool guys with cool cameras anymore. They not only shoot themselves in a mirror. They are designers, freelance consultants, copywriters, sometimes wannabe stars. Female AND male. Or so-called “slashers“:

“For the typical member of Gen Y, as well as the soon-to-be working age Millennials, the typical behaviour patterns of immediate pleasure seeking, multitasking and low boredom thresholds (typically all summed into the phrase ‘instant on’) makes slashing particularly appealing. (…) It is no surprise that greater quantities of people under 30 are choosing to have portfolio careers”.

Quality is enhanced: some bloggers now have their personal photographers. New skills are appearing in blog-posts: art direction, production, work with agencies. Talent managers are now targeting these people, booking them with the right brands.

When fashionistas meet entrepreneurs

On eBay France, fashion-related items are the most sought and sold. Some investors decided to dive into these new markets, trying to encourage young platforms to rise. Even if the gap can be huge between creatives and techies, it’s now melting:

“What we know unequivocally is that the momentum fashion startups are having–and this phenomenon of fashion, technology and finance coming together–won’t be slowing down in 2012.”

In France, Ben & Fakto has just conciliated fashion needs and post-crisis reality, focusing on “happy fashion” and social marketing, partnering with Babyloan.

What used to be 2 opposite worlds, is now merging. Because digital culture is now directly impacting the way fashion rejuvenates its ideas, finding new roots to some kinds of digital undergrounds. Main famous brands are now on TumblR, a way to propagate their vision of fashion but also to directly plug with new trendsetters. Trendsetters because they MAKE trends (photography etc.).

From inner circle to pervasive fashion

Communication used to be mastered. Authorized journalists were covering the runways. It was an inner-circle of happy fews. Where brands were only challenged by other brands. This time is over.

Traditional Haute Couture brands need to shape new paths. Because the inner-circle is becoming more and more pervasive. The agenda is challenged; there are now so many Fashion Weeks worldwide that there’s too much noise to only count on them. New media like Refinery 29 are dismantling Vogue or other traditional opinion leaders. Bloggers take the lead and do not hesitate anymore to claim when these editorial pipelines go wrong. The last example against ELLE France (accused of racism) has demonstrated that it’s no longer “fashion top journalists” against “the people”; and convinced us that “Eagles” can sometimes be cheap.

When classic catwalks aren’t enough to emerge

Since Louis Vuitton in 2009, the very first luxury brand to broadcast its fashion show live on Facebook, all the other brands have tried to follow the idea that a catwalk needed to be live. That this catwalk should be broadcast, commented, shared, by online communities of influencers. That the most important thing was to generated weak links, “hyphenated marketing“, that could be activated at the best time. We’ve seen in January that it’s not that easy to organize: during the last Gucci live stream catwalk (Men collection), we were only some dozens to live-chat on the related platform. Not much impact compared to Burberry.

Because it requires many skills (Social CRM, digital branding, Social Media Marketing) that cannot be improvized.

The last stats have shown how important fashion e-commerce is:

“Converting the sale online should be the very next focus for fashion sales online,” noted
Cohen, “Getting the consumer to go from browsing to purchasing takes new information beyond just product photos and price. It takes convincing the consumer to push the purchase button.”

A world in which Social Media is not an asset apart. But the core one.

Laurent “Lilzeon” François is a fashion blogger & photographer. He runs a creative agency in London (RE-UP) which shapes digital stories for brands. He writes with Vu Quan Nguyen for L'Express Styles in France (Le Boulevardier).

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