As of two days ago, it can now be said that the fashion industry has made its mark on social media. Because of this great immersion, Internet entrepreneur Jeff Pulver has decided to include the first ever Social Media Fashion Panel at his #140 Characters Conference that he founded. The event, named “Fashionably Connected: How Twitter is Changing How Customers Shop, Dress, and Think in 2010”, will be happening in New York on April 20th. The panelists include several marketers, editors, founders, and will have a social media expert to moderate them. Based on the SmartBrief article 1st Social Media Fashion Panel to be held during Jeff Pulver’s #140 Characters Conference: New York City 2010 on April 20th at the 92nd Street Y, Pulver says that throughout 2009 they have observed the impact of Twitter among celebrities, the media, advertising, politics, music, education, public safety, and public diplomacy and with the #140 Characters Conference events, the Twitter community around the world will be able to listen, connect, share, and engage with each other while simultaneously checking out the impact of live Internet on business.
Everyone attending will examine “The State of NOW” and how social communication platforms have changed many industries. These conferences have become well-known social media events and those who come can connect to other social media leaders. Los Angeles, Barcelona, London, and Tel Aviv are just a few of the places where the conferences have been held. The panelists are of course devoted Twitter users and use it as a means to connect to designers, magazine editors, stylists, bloggers, beauty artists, and models who provide critical input in how the fashion business works. Even the format of the conference reflects Twitter users in that individuals will only speak for 5-10 minutes, keynotes will speak for 15-20 minutes, and panel discussions are limited to 20 minutes. One of the panel discussions will be Twitter and the Fashion Industry.
2010 is really the year of the firsts for social media in the fashion industry. Style Coalition and ideeli in partnership with Lucky Magazine hosted the first annual Fashion 2.0 Social Media Awards this past February, according to StyleCoalition.com. The categories included Best Online Video, Best Twitter, Best Facebook Page, Best Website, Next Big Thing, and Top Innovator. While 200 industry representatives were there, hundreds more watched it streaming live online. Even the award presenters were top fashion bloggers including writers from shefinds.com, secondcitystyle.com, and fashionpulsedaily.com. These awards acknowledged the top members of the fashion world for their exceptional achievements and cutting-edge communication strategies across a medley of social media channels, networks, and blogs. Winners with the most awards included Chanel, Diane von Furstenburg, Dolce and Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, Christian Louboutin, and Tory Burch.
Finally, fashion is being seen as part of social media, and a significant part at that.
About a month ago, Zara was the most popular fashion brand on Facebook. You know what that means. Zara is using social media and it is working extremely well for them. According to The Independent article Weekly Facebook fashion index: most popular mass retailers, Zara has over 2 million followers on Facebook and is beating expensive designers such as Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Gucci in number of fans. This is all according to the Stylophane Facebook Fashion Index. Stylophane is an online marketing and design company that has created this page to monitor the growth in the world of social media within fashion brands. The Fashion Index includes Fashion in general, Footwear, Jeans, and Cosmetics. Users can check previous month listings and can see the amount of fans the brands have. The number of fans are in the categories of Platinum (100,000 plus fans), Gold (10,000-100,000 fans), Silver (1,000-10,000 fans), and Bronze (10-1,000 fans). The rankings are updated daily and users can request new brands to be added.
Stylophane works with search engine marketing, Facebook marketing, e-mail marketing, and web design & e-commerce. It also does product photography as well as offers Sales Analytics Software. It considers itself in having the best user-interface design for the fashion industry, creates profitable web sites, and supports all services needed for your website. You can see how Zara has become so popular on Facebook just by looking at its page. The Wall is consistently referring users back to the website in its statuses and shows the new designs in photos on a monthly basis. Not only can users comment on these photos and statuses, but Facebook provides a “Like” button where users can tell Zara that they like what they see. The page even has promotional videos for Zara’s all over the world and of course users can comment on them too. At last, the page has an event section where there is a list of opening parties. Notably, Zara’s Facebook page is completely different from its website and neither contains aspects of one another.
The Next Web‘s article Style.com Launches Fashion Feed- Fashion News Just Got Real-Time and Social shares that Style.com has created Fashion Feed to bring up to the minute news on designers, models, celebrities, and labels moving the world of fashion. The page is divided into Most Buzzed About, Latest, News, Beauty News, and Street Style. These are lists of blogs that include thumbnails of pictures that can be read right on the page and staying within the Fashion Feed navigation. Users can search for more intimate details about specific models, designers, labels, and celebrities that are not included in the blogs. The Fashion Feed is updated several times a day and posts tweets on the very same page.
First the fashion industry fears social media and now brands are fighting to be Number 1- how ironic.
Perhaps the fashion industry is catching on with the use of social media and this time it’s Burberry. With its new artofthetrench.com website, Burberry lets anybody star in its campaign. Just take a picture of yourself in a Burberry trench and submit it on the website for community judgment states The Times article Burberry’s artofthetrench.com checks out street-style fashion. This provides free advertising for Burberry as well as an ego boost for the people uploading the pictures. It even promotes a new form of brand loyalty. Consumers can see how regular people wear these trenches in different combinations as opposed to looking at unrealistic models in distinct ways of wearing the trench. Burberry has the largest amount of Facebook followers of any fashion brand and has joined the FTSE which is an index of the UK’s 100 most highly capitalized companies on the London Stock Exchange.
Burberry is setting the example for luxury brands and has moved 25% of its advertising budget to online media. It jumped on the social media bandwagon after experiencing an 8% sales decline in 2009 to 138 billion pounds. Seeing this, other big brands have started using the internet to promote their products instead of relying on their boutiques. In this way, the brand brings the product to the consumer instead of waiting for the consumer to come to them. Prada and Bulgari are examples of designers recently creating online stores. The relocation to the internet is being directed by photographer Nick Knight, who is a favorite of fashion magazines. At the end of the article the writer provides five examples of sites that also use images from the street like Burberry to inspire consumers.
My favorite of these sites is The Sartorialist because not only does it share pictures of everyday people on the street, it also shares where these people do their every day errands such as the dry cleaner, the tailor, the hair salon, and shoe repair. The people in the photos are in natural poses in clothes they normally wear and most are not even posing for the camera. The photographer’s images are from a few of the fashion capitals of Milan, Florence, New York, and Paris. Guests can comment on each image and can see where The Sartorialist has been featured. It can be seen anywhere from GQ and Vogue to Ready Made and Metro. What makes The Sartorialist different is that it is in blog format, instead of just a website of pictures. It is not a photo album but an ongoing story of spontaneous pictures from the street.
One leader of the fashion industry can start a social media revolution simply by taking a few random pictures outside.
Hugo Boss used social media to recruit aspiring models to star in this year’s Berlin Fashion Week fashion show. It used only its Facebook profile to search for models and even used the site’s community to help by asking them to vote on their favorites. The article Brands still relying on ‘citizen models’ in 2010 found in The Independent tells us that Hugo Boss also streamed the fashion show live on Facebook led by other brands including Louis Vuitton. The Kooples, a French hipster label, has been selecting regular people part of the nightlife in Paris to feature in their catalogues. Victoria’s Secret has the best example in that they used a contest winner for the first time in a runway show after training her for several weeks in model boot camp. More and more, brands are taking into account the importance of social media and have realized how much participation boosts their sales.
Fashion shows featured online are beginning to become a trend because Ralph Lauren is doing the same. It will be streaming for the first time the Ralph Lauren fashion show on its website while featuring live commentary from four famous fashion icons next week. They have even made the collection an iPhone application. Besides the fashion show, the website contains a “Create Your Own” section where consumers can customize their polo’s, hats, and totes to include their names or distinct flags. Its Rugby store also contains a “Create Your Own” section which has even more options of customer customization including a patch, embroidery, and your name. The products range from dresses, to cardigans, and even to ties. The Rugby store has a blog that talks about anything ranging from certain products to music to charity events. A small pop up appears in the bottom corner asking users to share their input for a better experience on their site.
Ralph Lauren treats charity events highly and has a Social Action page consisting of all their events. It asks users to sign up and apply to host a charity event at one of their Rugby stores. Guests will receive 15% off their purchases and the charity will receive 15% of the profits. Rugby has created the Match Rugby Fund donation where Match Rugby shirts will be sold in efforts to raise money for young social entrepreneurs. Users can visit the blog anytime to read about the winners. Rugby has also teamed about with a few foundations including Feed Projects and Toms Shoes to support and donate money to children in developing countries.
It’s about time us real people had a say.
Luxury brands may be consistently fashion forward but their marketing ways are not so up to date. They are used to buying ad space in magazines where they control what is seen by the world. Dana Gers in Forbes.com article Social Climbing: Luxury Fashion Brands Must Embrace Social Media mentions that 96% of luxury brand customers are part of Generation Y and are using social media. These luxury brands strive for passion in their designs and social media does just that. This passion is exhibited through the conversations between the designer and the consumer. Without this, brands risk letting the consumer create a passionate presence online on their own. The brands must be the ones to initiate the conversation.
Gers goes on to provide luxury brands a few tips on how to use social media properly. The first tip is to find the right brand “voice” which means finding the most personal way to communicate to customers. When using Facebook and Twitter, communication should be less formal and transparent to show users who you truly are and that you are on the same level. The second tip is to commit to consistent communication. Figure out how often the brand can communicate and stick to it. This shows users that the brand is active and stays connected with its consumers. The third tip is to make it easy for customers to find your brand on social media. It is crucial to have “Follow us on Facebook/Twitter/Myspace” links on your website. Fans should be able to update their own status with news of a recent purchase on your website to share with the world what they just bought. The fourth tip is to expect a conversation and therefore criticism. Feedback will always be either positive or negative. Fifth, is to create original content for the social media outreach. The content found on your website should be different from the content on your Facebook page. And finally, use the 80/20 rule which means devote 80% of your content to inform, inspire, amuse, and connect with your fans and 20% of content to product-driven messages.
StyleHop is the final site of the “Six Social Sites” and provides fashion forecasting to capture value currently lost in markdowns.
With its MarginFeeder, merchants can see which styles customers prefer and which ones they do not. They can also get a feel of exactly what the customers will buy–something traditional research cannot do. This MarginFeeder is used by a fashion panel that creates predictive consumer analytics in a quick and cost-effective way. Your brand can come up with a study and see the results 3 days later. StyleHop even has a blog that talks about social media not just in fashion but other famous organizations that also use social media.
With that said luxury brands need social media to maintain their status and to predict the future of fashion.
Looks like social media has joined the catwalk with the help of Bluefly and Women’s Wear Daily, says SmartBrief’s article Fashion Powerhouses Bluefly.com & WWD.com Break Down the Most Important Fall 2010 Trends in Exclusive Viral Videos. Both have become partners in marketing to present exclusive videos from the fall 2010 runways in New York, Milan, and Paris on Bluefly.com. Bluefly’s CEO says that their customers love interpreting catwalk trends for their own closets and with these videos they can receive expert advice on the best looks. While watching the videos, viewers will also be able to access live commentary from the Bluefly Style Experts who will be tweeting from New York’s Bryant Park (twitter.com/bluefly_com). Experts will also post pictures only available on Facebook and talk about the shows on Bluefly’s blog FlyPaper. Now everybody can see what happens at these exclusive fashion shows, not just the VIP’s.
Besides providing exclusive coverage of fashion shows through videos and a blog, Bluefly is the leading online retailer of designer brands, fashion trends, and superior value. While shopping online, users can even chat live with a Bluefly Personal Shopper who can assist them with any questions. Products are available below retail value price. Women’s Wear Daily is also known as the fashion bible and serves as the official authority, an international newswire, and a means of change for the fashion, beauty, and retail industries. WWD’s website offers interaction of the users through questions of the week, The Conversation- a place for discussing topics, videos that can be from instructional to promotional, and blogs that have enabled comments. The section WWDCareers allows the user to search for employers and recruiters for jobs or internships in any industry.
Est. Today is number five on the list of “Six Social Sites”. It is an online fashion studio that enables tweens to create, showcase, and buy clothing they design themselves. The founders were inspired by their own daughter and wanted to give everyone the ability to bring their designs to life. Instead of the grown-ups creating the clothes at the mall, these tweens can create their own clothes at their very own computers. Girls can also interact by submitting their designs for contests, keeping up on the blog, and by voting for their favorite designers. The site is very age appropriate and hence easy to navigate. For the peace of mind of their parents, there is a For Parents section explaining what Est. Today is, safety precautions, and most importantly if it will cost them any money. Both tweens and parents can easily see the benefits of Est. Today.
The fashion industry only used to bring designs to us. Now we bring the designs to them. It takes two to tango.
As I keep mentioning, the fashion industry is slowly merging into social media. They see the many benefits but are not sure how to represent the emotions of styles from fabric to a page online. They are also afraid of losing their luxurious appeal as well as giving the customers too much power. One brand decided to finally be the first to allow users to have a say. In an article on SmartBrief, Social Media Goes Fashion- JUSTPROUD Launches First Community Driven Fashion Brand, Business Wire writes that JUSTPROUD was the first to join the social media community in 2008. Members can contribute their opinions, knowledge, and talent through design, modeling and photography as well as sell their clothes and accessories. Now, ordinary people can use this community to become well-known instead of struggling to reach the level of the famous designer brands. The best part is that these ordinary people can found a fashion community for free and invite their friends to create a network. Anybody can upload their designs as well as comment on others. The brand’s three values are transparency, respect, and creativity- aspects that are crucial to a fashion community.
JUSTPROUD invites all opinions about the site, from fashion tips, people who sell things well, and general suggestions on improving the site. The brand emphasizes that members are both the user and the producer. Members not only share their work but they also create a profile in which they can tell the community about themselves and show their portfolios. The production of their work depends on the number of votes of the members. Only members can buy from the stores and the brand creates widgets to promote sales in their communities. The home page automatically plays a video for the users to see the different areas of the site without having to necessarily read the “About” page. The site is available in languages all over the world and enables a discussion page where members can share their thoughts for specific topics. The designers, models, and photographers can include a small description of their motivation with their works.
Sense of Fashion, number four on the list of “Six Social Sites”, is an indie fashion online home for independent fashion designers, trendsetters, fans, and shoppers. Clients are live and have access to transparent communication with buyers. Sense of Fashion recognizes the shared need of indie designers and fashion fans and shoppers to reach each other, to gain access to a large selection of unique fashion items from all over the world, and to be exposed to a diversity of consumers from all over the world. Designers and Boutiques can sell their products, upcoming designers can create an online portfolio, fashionistas can show their style, and bloggers can promote their blogs. Users can read the Sense of Fashion blog, participate in polls on favorites, and search for people, events, cliques, etc.
Just be proud to use social media for your sense of fashion.