It looks like branded content continues to be all the rage in the fashion industry. This morning, in an effort to track down news on Net-A-Porter’s real-time, social shopping tool launched at DLD, we stumbled across a new fashion business blog called The High Low.
A tastefully designed website, we started digging around it, as many of the topics written about are similar to those covered by independent fashion business sites like FashionablyMarketing.Me, Signature9 and Business Of Fashion.
What we discovered was that The High Low is a new blog funded by Liz Claiborne. The about us page says:
“The High Low is here to celebrate the great democratization of fashion. We cover the latest trends in retail with a focus on e-commerce, and we’re here to bring you the latest news on how the fashion and apparel industry is evolving to fit today’s consumer, and today’s marketplace.”
The site also stipulates that the editorial content is independent of Liz Claiborne brands. Most of the RSS feeds integrated into this site are from major publications whose stories are often inspired by independent sites such as the ones I mentioned above.
While we’re honored to part of the inspiration of this new big brand web project, we can’t help but wonder: Why would Liz Claiborne launch a branded site about the business side of the fashion. Any thoughts or ideas?
Moreover, why would a brand like Liz Claiborne not ask an independent fashion writer to contribute to something like this, much like ShopBop has successfully done with Eat, Sleep Denim?
Hopefully, if The High Low does discover a story via our website, as we often break news, as do Signature9 and Business Of Fashion, they’ll be courteous enough to link to us and cite us as a source as they’ve done with other major news sites. I could already make the argument that the article on Google Boutiques The High Low published in January was inspired by our in-depth analysis of the project.
Another budding web trend is fashion designers and brands starting to copy independent fashion professionals in order to gain faster notoriety for themselves. Hopefully this isn’t true of this new resource.
With the launch of ‘The Choo Connection,’ Jimmy Choo is holding a competition for the most touching Choo story. The winner will receive her 15 minutes of internet fame and an exclusive pair of shoes from the red carpet inspired, 15th Anniversary Crystal Collection.
The lucky winner will be announced in April of 2011. Browsing through the current entries, we see everything from a proud US soldier wearing her shiny red Choos to a doll-baby of a little girl peeking out of her mommy’s Jimmy Choo shopping bag.
The competition is already fierce (in a sweet and fashionable way), so we can’t wait to find out which story is selected.
Entries will be accepted via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Visit Jimmy Choo on Facebook for details.
This has been a week for catching up, checking in and coordinating. After reviewing all of the emails I saved six months ago to follow up on, I realized that the most common question I’ve been asked in 2010 is: “How do I become a success in the fashion industry?” The question came from bloggers, designers, students and professionals — individuals who wanted to become social media consultants, start an agency or become the next top blogger — they all had voices that wanted to be heard.
Here are my 11 insights for moving towards a more successful existence in the fashion industry in 2011 — in no particular order:
1. LOVE: You have to LOVE the what you do. You have to LOVE your business, your blog, your company and your talents. LOVE is the only constant through the ups and downs you’re going to experience as your move forward in your life and career.
2. LOYALTY: A successful business is built on LOYALTY. If someone helps you move forward, seize the opportunity to help him or her when you’re in the position to return the favor; do it no questions asked! Be cautious about burning bridges; as you grow older, you’ll find that rebuilding those bridges becomes harder and harder to do. But remember, never allow kindness and LOYALTY to be mistaken for weakness. Stay away from relationships that contain one way streets, no reciprocity and parties who think your kind intentions make you a door mat.
3. GUT: You’ve got to trust your GUT — the inner core of your being that contributes to your success. Unfortunately, we sometimes give our LOYALTY to the wrong person or alliance. Learn from these mistakes; if your GUT tells you no, stirring those familiar feelings of deceit or anxiety, move gracefully and swiftly away. This is a necessary art to master in your personal and professional worlds.
4. PASSION: Closely interwoven with LOVE, you need PASSION. Do you know how Margiela was inspired by 17th century Japanese footwear? Do you find that website code creates fashionable, poetic haiku? Do you Tumblr towards ecstasy in search of fashionable online content? That PASSION is fueled by your LOVE of fashion. That PASSION enables you to stop following trends in fashion and business and become an expert — a person who is a trendsetter and adviser within a specific niche.
5. SELF: Can you remove yourself and analyze a problem from a non-biased point of view? Do you follow the latest trends that the Internet and magazines are raving about, or are the trends they’re introducing already old in your mind by the time they’ve reached your ears? Learn to transcend the now — stop living your life in perpetual beta or real-time; take some time to focus on teaching your SELF to transcend being reactionary and become a visionary. The evolution of SELF is something that only you can do.
6. MARCH: You have to MARCH to the beat of your own drum. It’s important to cultivate this practice, as opposed to mindlessly marching along with the masses. Working on SELF will help you MARCH with confidence on your path. I would also recommend taking up a Yoga practice of your choice.
7. RISE: A few years ago, I experienced career epiphanies through slight intoxication with a well known figure in technology (It was SXSW – you kinda have to drink in Texas). Not realizing the impact and truthfulness of the conversation until later, I’d like to share it now.
This person told me, “Macala, cream rises to the top. Stop paying attention to your perceived competition, because you know what? It’s exactly what I said, it’s your perception. Go create your own world through the content you produce. Tell your story and your industry’s story from your perspective. If you’re right, you’ll RISE. The people you can’t get to to will come to you.”
8. INVEST: I’ve always said that FashionablyMarketing.Me and my other properties were companies or ideas built on Open Source and Broken Dreams. There’s a commonality in everyone that works for any media property or company of mine. They love fashion and they’re hungry. Their PASSION drives them to work for what they ultimately want. What’s more, open source software and social platforms enabled me to find them.
Once I found them, I got to know them, and interestingly enough, found that each of us had a story that had caused our lives to shatter in some way; leaving us with broken dreams and hearts. But our PASSION and sense of SELF caused us to rebuild and MARCH towards our dreams. I’ve INVESTED in every partner or employee related to my business. I’m a firm believer in the “hire for attitude, train for skill” approach. All that glitters is not gold; it’s better to mold what you need than to find a pre-made, perfect (or what seems to be perfect) person to fill a role.
9. RELIEVE: Sometimes after we’ve INVESTED, we realize we’ve made the wrong choices. It’s okay — to err is human, to forgive is divine. But once you realize that you’ve made an error, you have to RELIEVE that situation. In order to grow the right way, hire people and partner with other companies slowly and smartly. Build long term relationships instead of one night stands. If you make a mistake, dissolve the relationship quickly and tactfully.
10. RISK: Sometimes you have to trust your GUT and take a RISK — whether calculated or simply crazy. If you don’t investigate or implement those ideas you just have a hunch about or that idea that took you from your sleep at 2AM on Tuesday, you can miss valuable opportunities! The Internet is a digital experimentation playground. Go for broke – why do you think VCs invest in so many technologies?
11. FREE: I hate the model of FREE, but in paying your dues, you are going to do things for FREE. But here’s the key to FREE: always do things for FREE or for profit, but never do them for cheap. After you’ve paid your dues, make sure you get your value.
If you’ve been on the wait list like us, you recently found a holiday gift in your inbox — the announcement that The Polyvore Blogger Network is finally here!
But, don’t worry if you weren’t on the list. It’s not too late to join in the fashionable fun and sign up for the Polyvore Blogger Network.
Polyvore is a useful tool for brands and retailers, as well as bloggers. And with the launch of The Polyvore Blogger Network, bloggers can receive some great perks by creating fashion sets and interacting within the Polyvore community.
“We love our bloggers and appreciate your support over the last few years. Polyvore is dedicated to supporting and growing the blogging community. Today, we are introducing the Polyvore Blogging Network which offers you exclusive access to insider tips on using Polyvore, special events and money making opportunities for your blog.” — Polyvore
We kinda love Polyvore for that statement. It sounds like Polyvore is committed to working with bloggers and implementing programs to thank bloggers for their participation (as opposed to Google, who…well, you know what we think about that whole Boutiques thing).
We are particularly interested in watching these trends as they gain momentum in the new year:
- Pricing Pandemonium: Thanks to technology and brands’ increasing willingness to hop on board the modern times train, group buying, niche market club memberships, flash sale sites, local discounts and dynamic pricing will make buying and snagging the perfect deal more gratifying than ever in 2011.
- Social-Lites And Twinsumers: As a way of personalizing their consumer experience, people are becoming increasingly invested in brands by associating themselves with people with similar likes and dislikes as well as talking about and curating things they are interested in. With the evolution of social media and e-commerce, the customer is becoming more powerful.
- Emerging Generosity: Giving will become more than the trendy thing to do, becoming an expectation for any person or brand who has the ability to give back. We look forward to seeing more companies and people implementing an embedded generosity mindset.
- Eco Superior: In 2011, we’ll no longer be satisfied with green products; we will buy products that are not only greener, but made better than their earth-harming alternatives. This is an exciting point in history because humans have been dedicated to making it happen. People have created the technology necessary and brands have heard the message loud and clear: green is beautiful and can be better.
- Owner-Less: Another sign that we humans and the businesses we create are becoming globally responsible, we will strive to buy less, opting for fractional ownership and leasing when possible. Expect to see more car leasing, handbag borrowing and runway design renting in 2011.
These consumer trend forecasts offer a positive outlook for 2011. Amazingly priced products and services, customer satisfaction, philanthropy-focused people and businesses, eco-fabulous essentials and global responsibility…could we really pack much more greatness into one year?
Photo: mili on Sense of Fashion
The Impact Of Social Media On Trend Forecasting
After the Behind The Seams trend forecasting panel and Erin Weinger’s insights, I found that the panelists had only scratched the surface on the impact of digital media on trend forecasting. I wondered if online trending services and real-time forecasting were making traditional mediums obsolete.
Digital Vs. Traditional, WhoWhatWearDaily Vs. Vogue, street Style will not replace a highly stylized photography. We have to learn to be friends. – Shane Cisneros, Celebrity Stylist
With the exception of the Erin, most of the panelists respected online technology, but didn’t embrace them. Fran Sude said, “WGSN and Stylesight have color files, but they don’t have tangibility.” I wanted my response to be,
“Tangibility and feeling something is one thing. Yes, I love to feel and touch certain fabrics and materials, but technology has event made texture accessible via my iPad. I’ve seen shoppers in West Elm and CB2 take out their iPad, load Gilt Home and lay the iPad on a couch to decide if they’re going to buy something online while simultaneously purchasing in a store! That’s impactful!
Do you use Polyvore or have you crowedsourced opinions? How have sites like Style Sight impacted your business? How have you used raw data, mined it, and put it back together in a way that makes sense for you customers to forecast online sell through? Did you know this could be done?”
My feeling is that digital has a positive impact on many traditional business to business services; including trend and merchandising services. How to retain your audience is the same question, but is now: How do I retain my business’s customers? The answer is the same: great customer service and provide a services that brings them back for more. You listen. Your business and its services have to evolve with your customer in order to remain relevant. Use technology for that.
Fascinated by the panel, I turned to two fashion industry fashion forecasting experts for West Coast and East Coast insights on fashion and technology.
Industry Expert Ruth Staiman on Technology’s Impact On Forecasting
Technology IS The New Fashion: Fashion and trend forecasting is a process that begins with color and fabric predictions, trend selections and comes full circle with trade show and fashion show attendance. Add in a global view of film, art and popular culture and you’ve got it. Before the internet, Fashion Direction was based on instinct. We gathered all the information by hand and presented it to our buyers in packets labeled “For Your Eyes Only”.
The internet and sites like Stylesight, Stylelist, MyPantone and Polyvore are tools we never dreamed of having that add more information and data to the process. Polyvore allows consumers and experts to work with “current” fashion to create new trends. I’d like to see more influencers on Polyvore creating and sharing to push the envelope. Stylesight is a microcosm of a process that used to require traveling around the world. Information that was only available to Retail executives is now in the public domain. This will push Trend Forecasting to a new level.
A Trend Forecaster could be gobbled up into the black hole of this virtual fashion world for eternity. Technology does add infinitely to the process, but “being” in the real world, in the street, and at the designer collections is still the driving force behind great retail and editorial Fashion Direction.
Trend Forecaster Industry Interview: Wendy K. Bendoni
Wendy Bendoni is a Professor of Fashion Marketing at Woodbury University Professor and Fashion Forecaster and European Correspondent for StyleLens for the past 20 years. Bendoni is also the creative director of the Lifestyle prediction service Design-Options and fashion software developer of SnapFashun: CAD .
FMM: How has Technology impacted Trend Forecasting?
WB: Tracking fashion trends used to mean traveling abroad five times a year to review runway, retail and street fashion. It would take two weeks for the team to research and another two weeks for a team of 10 to pull the complete report together. The report would then be published and sent to our clients for review, direction and inspiration. The total process would take over a month.
Today we have reporters around the world that send us up-to-the-minute footage of what is being worn on the streets as well as what retailers are showcasing. We receive 10,000 to 15,000 images a month from Tokyo to Milan that are tagged and categorized for our clients.
Technology has created a platform for us to take the information given by our reporters and used to track trends though social media. It’s fascinating how walking the streets of Amsterdam only gives you half of the story of why a trend is popular. To completely understand the significance of a particular trend, it is important to fully understand how and why that trend came into existence. After visiting social media communities, I can usually pinpoint where the trend originated and where it is heading. My days of strolling the local fashionable hangouts has been redirected to visiting the local blogs or social-media communities.
The job of ten has now been replaced by the job of five who have multiple platforms of information streaming at one time. No longer are there set launch dates for our trend reports. Trend analysis reports are done on a daily bases. Digital sketches are drawn with our software program, SnapFashun, and downloadable for our clients to immediately use in production or online trend presentations. Technology has given trend forecasters tools that seem to change daily. I value the research process of determining the next big trend but also look forward to new ways of tracking future trends.
FMM: What is the value of real-time data?
WB: Real-time data is my secret weapon for researching new trends at retail. There is an overwhelming amount of real-time information available today to track consumer shopping habits. Yes, you can monitor live feeds of shopping behaviors but you better know your fashion theories to really determine how this will effect the trend direction. I find that real-time data most useful when researching a particular trend in the market place. Real-time data that can be immediately collected is truly revolutionizing trend forecasting. Today, new divisions are being created in forecasting firms to best track and evaluate the data collected.
Fast Fashion is the other important advance for technology in the fashion industry. Fast Fashion used to refer to throw-away fashion you would find at Forever 21. Now this term refers to the speed a collection is first introduced to their customers via technology. Burberry is a key player in this movement of Fast Fashion. Their shows are shot as a film and broadcast in private pre-views in select Burberry stores. After the shows, the customers are given an iPad to immediately shop the collection. Fast-Fashion is now born!
The consumer is evolving and expecting immediately gratification after previewing the runway collections. The new need for Fast Fashion is changing the supply and demand of products and services. This in turn has forecasters looking to see who is next to use technology to supply their clients with Fast-Fashion options.
FMM: What’s the future of technology and forecasting?
WB: Technology and forecasting are forever joined together. Retailers demand trend information at a moment notice, while manufactures are in search of key selling silhouettes. Forecasters are open to new technology and have fully embraced new tools for tracking and monitoring the consumer. Technology continues to unlock new explorations from aviator societies to new technology driven materials.
As technology continually evolves and impacts the fashion, apparel and retail industries faster and faster, how has your business or services adopted?
- What CEOs Can Learn From Fashion Designers: We ask the founding managing director of Martens & Heads executive consultancy what makes fashion designers good business models.
- Fashion + Retail: Marketing + Consumer Trends For 2011: We share 11 factors for marketing success as identified by Brand Keys, an authority on retail insights and customer loyalty.
- The Making Of The New Rachel Roy “Girls Night Out” Video: We take a look at what it takes to make a hip fashion video advertisement.
- Book Review: About Face By Dan Hill: We review this new neuromarketing book which explains some of the secrets of creating emotionally effective advertising.
- Interview: Polyvore’s Melissa Crounse On Bloggers And Social Sharing: We delve into Polyvore’s relationship with bloggers, designers and other companies.
- Do You Know What Makes Gen Y Buy?: We summarize the recent “Why Gen Y Buys” conference, which was held in Los Angeles.
Fashion Marketing News Around The Web:
- How To Become A Style Blogger: Refinery29 shares a snarky (yet oh-so-true) flowchart explaining what it takes to become an A-list style blogger.
- How Fashion PR Agencies Use Tumblr: PR Couture examines ways in which PR Agencies are using this uber popular micro-blogging platform.
- 4 Ways To Wear An American Apparel Shirt: Creative fashion blogger, Ioana, illustrates how to wear a basic American Apparel top four different ways.
- A Blueprint For The Mobile-Enhanced Boutique: Mobi.luxe explores mobile services as a channel for the luxury retail industry.
- CEO Talk–Stephanie Phair, Director, TheOutnet.com: Business of Fashion investigates the quick success and future hopes of Net-a-Porter’s little sister.
- Fashion Statement: Is Customisation The Future Of Fashion?: Guardian.co.uk notes that luxury consumers are no longer happy with having what everyone else has and wonders if the industry will follow Burberry’s lead.
Brand Keys continues to prove itself as an authority on retail insights and customer loyalty, measuring the direction and velocity of consumer values 12 to 18 months in advance of the marketplace. As brands, designers and retailers prepare for 2011, Brand Keys identifies 11 trends which it believes will have direct consequences to the success or failure of next year’s branding and marketing efforts.
11 Factors For Marketing Success
The number 11 is significant in the year 2011, according to Brand Keys. In symbolism and spiritualism, the number 11 is said to represent intuition, honesty, understanding and the ideal. The number 11 is said to provide both insight and inspiration.
- Value Is What The Consumer Says It Is: Excessive spending will continue to be replaced by a reason-to-buy at all. The appearance of ubiquity will be trouble for brands with no authentic meaning, whether high or low-end.
- Brand, Meet Value: Brands will increasingly become a surrogate for “value.” What makes goods and services valuable will increasingly be what is wrapped up in the brand and what consumers believe the brand means.
- Zappos-ification: Marketers will have to comprehend what drives their category, know what consumers expect, and where to focus both process and brand efforts. Zappos sells shoes, but their brand equity lies primarily in the emotional driver of “service” (how they get shoes to customers and accept returns).
- Ethosnomics: Brands increasingly must stand for something beyond just rational items. Brands cannot just “stand for” the cause. Doing what others do and just because they’re doing it won’t work very long or very effectively. Corporate social responsibility efforts will need to be believable, sustained, and engaging. Some of the strongest will come from the brands that connect the public and the personal in today’s financially-strained world.
- Differentiation Can Be Emotional: Differentiation remains critical to brand success as the proliferation of products and services available to consumers continues. While true innovation exists when it comes to the offerings available, differentiation will come from what the brand offers emotionally to consumers.
- They’re Talking To Each Other Before Talking To The Brand: Social Networking and DIY media-exchange of information outside of the brand space will increase as consumers become more comfortable with their power to get the true story on products from total strangers. Brands will need to drive positive feedback out in the virtual world like never before.
- Friendtelligence: Influence by friends will also increase. If consumers trust the community, they will extend trust to the brand. Not just word-of-mouth, but the right word-of-mouth is what matters. Look for more websites using Facebook Connect.
- Putting The Brand Into Their Hands: It is increasingly handheld technology that facilitates transactions. Brands that make it hard to buy on the small screen will suffer. Watch for promotions and coupons to continue to explode, especially if the brand can customize that experience.
- Prolifetition: Look for increased competition, and not just from traditional brands. Ubiquitous awareness is replaced by strong word of mouth and positive viral sharing. Knowing what drives a category, what consumers expect, and what creates loyalty can give you a meaningful advantage when entering new and uncharted categories populated by strangers to your brand.
- Exponential Expectations: Brands are barely keeping up with consumer expectations now. Every day, consumers adopt and devour the latest technologies and innovations, and hunger for more. As app technology becomes more entrenched, brands will be expected to deliver in that space. Look for more apps in 2011.
- Engagement Is Not A Fad: It is the way today’s consumers do business. Marketers will continue to use engagement methods like the right platform, program, message and experience. But there is only one objective for the future: brand engagement.
These trends will require changes on the parts of how individuals and companies measure, manage, and market their brands. But after all, isn’t that what the dawn of digital has been prompting retailers to do all along?