Wednesday, October 07, 2015

High Fashion's Increasing Use of Digital

Luxury fashion brands have been reluctant to adapt to the digital age due largely to concerns about brand dilution. Many refuse to establish an e-commerce channel and digital marketing is kept to a minumum. A large number of the brands almost exclusively distribute through wholesale channels such as department stores and for these brands the focus has been on the buyer community, not the end user. Despite the minimal use of digital sales and advertising by luxury brands, live streaming of shows is now viewed as an integral part of fashion week and celebrities and socialites increasingly share the front row with fashion bloggers. At the latest fashion week 100,000 people watched shows in person while 2.6 million tuned in online. What was once a very exclusive event has been democratized in some sense by the ability to view the action live online. Previously, if you were not invited to a show the only exposure to it was through heavily edited, tightly controlled images and clips developed and released by the brand. Now everyone can view the show start to finish with no filter applied. It is an interesting shift in the fashion industry. Through livestreaming and social media brands that previously relied on an air of exclusivity to maintain brand equity are increasingly engaging with and embracing their customers via social media. There is now a multitude of ways to communicate a brand identity online and the more innovative luxury players like Marc Jacobs are testing the waters to see what works. It is interesting that social media and livestreaming have come ahead of e-commerce and digital marketing but my best guess is that it is just a matter of time before brands figure out how to move in that direction withouth threatening their brand identity and integrity.

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