As Fashion Week moved from Milan to Paris this week, marketers watched for reactions to the experimental consumer-facing formats that upended New York and London this year, hoping to catch a glimpse of changes likely to affect other industries.
Although fashion brands face unique challenges in adapting to an “instant gratification” world, many of the questions they face as the Fashion Week concept itself becomes passé are also relevant to other brands. Here are three lessons that all marketers can take from Fashion Week 2016:
Embrace Your Influencers
No matter what your industry or consumer base, your influencers are your most powerful allies. Even traditional fashion labels like Chloé and Yves Saint Laurent, brands that opted to keep the six-month delay between runway show and storefront, have made social media influencers a core part their strategies.
Chloé has collaborated with Danielle Bernstein of We Wore What, Natalie Suaraz of Natalie Off Duty, and Julia Engel of Gal Meets Glam. Just this week, Yves Saint Laurent tapped blogger Eliza Wydrych and actress Miriam Hernandez for Paris-focused collaborations. Both of these brands prove that even for the most traditional marketers, genuine relationships with influencers are an enduring (and indispensable) part of reaching consumers.
On the surface, this is the biggest marketing takeaway from Fashion Week this year. If the rules of your industry no longer match the modern landscape, sometimes a dramatic shift is needed to remain relevant. Designer Tracy Reese accomplished this by ditching the runway at New York Fashion Week in favor of a short film, A Detroit Love Song. Diane Von Furstenberg staged her own NYFW runway revolt with a stylized theatrical performance. Whatever your industry’s version of the catwalk might be, reconsider how important it is to your marketing strategy and ask how you can do things better.
…All that said, if challenging tradition is the biggest Fashion Week lesson on the surface, building anticipation is the most important message brands can learn from looking just below it.
If you ask Ralph Toledano, president of the governing body of French fashion designers (Fédération Française de la Couture du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode), it’s not that the Fashion Week calendar is broken — it’s that brands simply aren’t producing designs that make an impact.
“Desire and dreams are part of the process,” Toledano told WWD in a recent article about the Fashion Week calendar shakeup. When designers create looks that consumers can’t stop thinking about, he reasoned, the six-month gap between sight and sale merely builds their desire. With a focus across all industries on giving consumers what they want when they want it, the idea of creating something irresistable can sometimes get lost in a desire to drive sales. Don’t let it. Even as you upend traditions and modernize your marketing strategies, remember what makes your product unique and strive to build a sense of anticipation that lasts.