Balenciaga Creative Director Nicolas Ghesquière recently chose LVMH/Prada alum Katherine Ross as the US consultant. The two met on a Steven Meisel shoot, and Ghesquière was intoxicated by Ross’s charm, elegance and perspective on the industry. With Ghesquière’s creative genius and Ross’s success in the luxury fashion industry, it thrills us to think about what’s next for the brand.
“Balenciaga is poised for significant growth and increased recognition in the U.S.” — Source: Ross in WWD
Until now, Balenciaga has been rather traditional in its advertising, with a concentration on print ads.
“I’m questioning if there is a new way of communicating about a fashion brand,” the designer told WWD. “It could be an art proposal, it could be a movie. [The scope] is very open, very large.” — Source: Ghesquière in WWD
The statement leads us to believe that the fashion house is considering more modern — and likely digital and social — channels of advertising.
Could Balenciaga be following in the footsteps of Louis Vuitton, who has upped the luxury ante with Nowness (in our opinion, the epitome of artistic branded content)? Here’s to hoping! As a matter of fact, we hope that Ross’s appointment and Ghesquière’s desire to express the brand in a new, artistic way leads to innovative breakthroughs that inspire our other favorite brands to connect with us — and entertain our luxurious fantasies.
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.
Last February, I stumbled upon Gregory Littley via data insights from New York Fashion Week and Jennine Jacob’s Evolving Influence Conference. Attensity (the social media metrics software most of you know I’m obsessed with) identified Gregory as a key influencer in driving conversations surrounding the conference and its main sponsor, American Express. When I published the report, Gregory tweeted his thanks and gratitude, and our Twitter fashion affair began that day.
As our company and this website have evolved, I’ve watched Gregory grow as well. Gregory is now Director of New Media at The International Office. Impressed with some of their recent work on AHAlife, Joor and Improvd, I sat down with Greg and the entire team at The International Office for digital insights on how technology is impacting the New York fashion industry.
FMM: New York has become the hub of fashion related start-ups. From indie fashion sites such as Etsy and Fashism, to sample sale sites Gilt and Beyond The Rack to more emerging luxury sites StyleTrek, AHAlife and Fashion Stake. What do you feel this has happened, has Silicion Valley moved east?
Michael Raisanen (President of the International Office): New York is the fashion hub of America, if not the world. I think that it is natural for these new fashion start-ups to incubate and launch here. Fashion as an industry has always been slow to embrace new media and technology so it is nice to see that so many new ventures and business concepts are starting to take root and proving themselves successful.
Also, New York is the media capital of the world so that helps disseminate the new concepts as well as generate the content that so many of these sites live and die by. From a technology perspective, these sites are not close to being as complex as most start-ups coming from Silicon Valley. That in turn eliminates huge initial investments and dependence on the risk capital community that tends to be centered in the Valley. It boils down to a different sort of creativity. Silicon Valley has provided the tools and infrastructure. It is now New York’s turn to utilize these assets through its cultural and aesthetic creativity and commercial savvy. It’s a natural progression.
FMM: A few California based fashion start-ups, such as Closet Couture, has had to move their base operations to New York in order to secure more funding or maintain their funding. Because of VC and investor understanding, or lack thereof, of the fashion industry, is this going to continue?
Michael Raisanen (President of the International Office): The VC community in Silicon Valley is centered around technological innovation. Historically, this is how they have made their money, and continue to do so. So, it is natural for a Facebook or a Twitter that bases its business around proprietary technologies to migrate towards northern California. On the flip-side, fashion start-ups tend to have entirely different value propositions that are not easily understood unless you are acquainted with the ins and outs of the fashion industry, which in many ways is very mysterious to the average engineer or lawyer. After all, fashion is one of the few industries that isn’t driven by real innovation. What governs fashion is trends and the flow of the culture. These things are very hard to predict and I think pretty contrary to the mindset of a typical Silicon Alley VC. New York, on the other hand, is in the business of setting the trends. So it makes perfect sense that the new fashion start-ups come here to be understood and seek backing.
FMM: Conversely, there have been many successful start-ups in California including Polyvore, Moxsie, The Sugar Network, even ModCloth now calls San Francisco home. Is there a formula for fashion start-up success?
Norman Rabinovich (Partner and Creative Director of the International Office): Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet. Ultimately, you have to tap into the cultural zeitgeist and come up with a concept that resonates with that culture in fresh new ways. But in terms of general structure, there are four main components that are are crucial in the success of any fashion start-up: content, commerce, aesthetics, and technology.
FMM: You’ve recently launched Joor, a site that connects fashion designers and brands to boutiques and retail locations. How does this site differ from its competitors such as Not Just A Label or Madison Buyer? The online buyer connection, or extension of traditional tradeshow has proven challenging for sites such as this; was Joor in fact launched because they feel there’s still room in online space for a site such as it to be successful?
Norman Rabinovich (Partner and Creative Director of the International Office): Joor as an online platform doesn’t only concentrate on the upcoming or avant garde, it’s a private network consisting of opportunities for more established brands, peppered with indie newcomers looking for an additional outlet of business and exposure. Part social network, part creator of unique content, part marketplace, Joor is an online solution for centralizing purchasing and product exploration in one arena.
Joor was launched in early 2010, and in some ways was one of the first in this space that offers an opportunity or a complement to the tradeshow experience. Is the market saturated? Hardly. From an offline standpoint, look at the abundance of showrooms representing designers in New York City. Joor is at the forefront of an online opportunity for designers and buyer to connect in an environment that supersedes time and location. As this type of business grows, as will the technology and opportunity for the space to evolve.
Norman Rabinovich (Partner and Creative Director of the International Office): I think the possible advantage to a tradeshow coming to market with an online application is their established relationships and distribution lists. But we can’t forget that even tradeshows have their own personalities and specialties. And those aspects of their business personalities can be both an asset and a limitation in terms of online scalability and success.
FMM: You’ve recently moved into the luxury space as well, having worked with Shauna Mei on the web design and art direction of her recently launched AHAlife. How has technology changed the way the luxury shopper is consuming products online? Do you feel product curation and storytelling is going to become the norm?
Norman Rabinovich (Partner and Creative Director of the International Office): It’s basically a paradigm shift in the way we consume luxury. Gone are the days where the success of luxury is based on the limited and inaccessible. Technology allows for us to have control over the immediate, and when a luxury brand doesn’t offer an immediate opportunity, our lives are way too busy with the everyday to not click on to the next brand that does.
FMM: With such companies as AHAlife, people have these amazing opportunities to be exposed to products and people that are not in their immediate grasp. AHAlife taps into a more transparent take of presenting and selling a product through the use of devices such as storytelling and product curation. At the same time, do you think that storytelling and product curation will become the norm?
Norman Rabinovich (Partner and Creative Director of the International Office): I think it always has been a standard in the success of a living, breathing brand. To truly fall in love with a product, there needs to be a connection, a story, a sentiment, an idea that propels an endorsement. A consumer needs to not only say that I love this product, but they need to say that this product is a representation of my life, what I stand for and who I am as a person.
FMM: As we well know, most large changes in the way we market to consumers start with luxury brands and trickle down into every other facet of the industry. What other trends do you see in online luxury good marketing coming to fruition in 2011-2013?
Gregory Littley (Director of New Media of The International Office): We are seeing more and more luxury companies no longer having hesitations when it comes to reaching a larger audience. This trend shows no signs of slowing down. Sensitivity to strategy separates these brands from your average ‘online’ outreach. What we are seeing now is an astute seriousness being brought to the tone, method and overall voice that a high end brand engages its consumers with via the web. Departments are being created within these companies out of this ‘new’ need – and the rise of a brand’s “Community Manager” will only increase. Basically, people in power have sat up and realized that you must care how your brand is translated through social media. That can’t be ignored. We’ll see more activations and promotions solely powered through platforms like Foursquare, Gowalla, and Twitter.
FMM: You’ve seen an influx of new ways that brands are using technologies to touch consumers by creating open lines of accessibility to ideas and products that were once difficult to attain especially within the fashion industry; how has this idea of customer centricity impact our industry?
Michael Raisanen (President of the International Office): For a long time the fashion industry has resisted new media technology and specifically the power of social media. I think there has been a strong fear of loss of brand control; the perception has been that if we engage with social media our brand will be taken over by the consumers out there and ultimately stripped of the aura and mystique that fashion brands live and die by. In many ways this fear has been propagated among media and branding pundits who have claimed that in the age of social media, your brand now belongs to the consumer. With a bit of hindsight on the social media revolution, we can now see that this clearly isn’t the case. Luxury and fashion brands are plenty more resilient than previously thought and that no matter what, people are still going to chatter and buzz about your brand. Most brands have realized that since the conversation is going on regardless, they might as well engage in it and try to leverage the power of social media to create stronger bonds with their customer base. I really don’t think that the future of fashion brands will be micromanaged by consumers. People will continue to look to fashion brands instruct them in terms of trends, culture and current tastes, not vice versa.
FMM: What are your three most favorite social networks or social platforms? What are three sites (aside from ours) that you read daily?
Gregory Littley (Director of New Media of The International Office): I came from the celebrity weekly world, so the most effective way to educate people on my new ‘social media’ career path was to Tweet about it. Instantly I was able to communicate and broadcast my new work, clients, and links to thousands. You aren’t able to quickly harness that type of influence on Facebook — that is not Facebook’s strength. Whenever I meet a freelancer in the creative world, my number one question is, “Are you on Twitter?”. Right now the tech community is lucky to have so many free platforms for marketing and self promotion — it boggles my mind when I find out brands don’t use these resources. It also shocks me that large companies still (Lego — call me!) do not engage with their audience online.
My “go-to” platforms are Twitter, Foursquare ( playing around with Gowalla), and Tumblr. Facebook is six months away from becoming Myspace. For professional use I’m not a fan of Facebook, but I recognize the importance to remain active across all top platforms. We are operating in a world where your effective worth is measured in ‘follower count’. I’m aware of this and conduct myself accordingly.
My role is based on keeping current with all forms of online media, from social to cultural influencers. Daily, I’m hitting Mashable, Viperchill, JustJared, The Sartorialist, and the newly revamped The Hollywood Reporter.
Saks Fifth Avenue has jumped on the blog bandwagon with The Saks Point Of View. This blog profiles designers, trends, innovative designs and everyday life in New York City to showcase the brand’s unique perspective and take on fashion.
Launching blogs is nothing new for luxury department stores, as Barneys launched its B-Sides blog last year and Bergdorf Goodman launched its 5th at 58th blog last May. Saks POV is similar to these blogs in content, as all the blogs feature designer interviews and showcase items that can be bought at their stores.
What makes Saks POV a little different from the rest is that it’s a mix of insider information, branding and editorial-style writing — sandwiching it in between BSides‘s casual and personalized writing and 5th and 58th‘s formal and magazine-style articles.
According to Denise Incandela, the president of Saks Direct, Saks’ foray into editorial writing and blogging is a response to customer demand:
“We find customers respond very well to that, they look to us as a fashion authority for that. If you look at us now versus two years ago, you will see a big shift there. It’s very well received by customers, and we measure that in terms of traffic as well as sales conversions.”
Moreover, Saks POV (saksPOV.com) has its own domain for its blog, while B-Sides (bsides.barneys.com) and 5th and 58th (blog.bergdorfgoodman.com) are on subdomains of their brands’ main sites. This suggests that Saks is intending that its blog go beyond being an extension of its brand, perhaps taking on a persona of its own.
With Saks’s new blog and its recent incorporation of customer reviews on its website — letting customers have a voice and an opinion about the items they like and dislike — it seems that Saks is truly trying to attend to its customers’ needs and wants online.
Good Customer Service Is IN, Poorly Designed Blogs Are OUT
We can tell you right now, Saks’s new blog is no NOWNESS or Club Monaco Culture Club. While many luxury brands and retailers have been slow in joining the online realm, they’re making up for it in launching their own content and killer creative designs. But Saks Point Of View falls short. Because of the wealth of resources available to them, big names can no longer cite lack of resources for poorly designed blogs. The sky really is the limit today, especially when you have the money to invest in professional web designers, photographers and bloggers.
We hate to be the mean girl that points out the boring/ugly design Saks has chosen for its blogging debut. We honestly expected more from Saks. Like the perfect food and wine pairing, we expected great content and functionality to be paired with great design. We wonder why Saks store events, store locations and online shopping areas are so poorly integrated into this design. We also wonder why Saks followed Bergdorf’s lead in disabling comments on their blog. While you can share information via Twitter and Facebook, it appears that they don’t want to be bothered by readers’ comments (which starkly contrasts with the goals of customer service and social media).
Hopefully Saks POV will evolve in a way that makes its content and its visual elements equally aesthetically pleasing. After all, that is one of the beauties of blogging — if you have great content and a supportive readership, it will only get better from here.
To take it a step further, if you launch a blog on a separate domain, it should be used to drive traffic and engagement back to the main SAKS properties. The main point of a branded blog is ENGAGEMENT. And for Saks, that does equate to online engagement followed by customer purchases, no?
Saks should take a look at NOWNESS and Culture Club. Though they are pure inspiration and editorial style writing, they drive us to the brands’ sites or deeper into their website if the content is connected.
We love it when people say what they mean and mean what they say. That’s why we enjoy freelance communications consultant/blogger Nathan Branch’s blog, which focuses on fashion and luxury, because “looking good is a trillion dollar industry.” Last week, I took the opportunity to talk with Nathan Branch about what makes him, and his insightful blog, worth publishing.
FMM: Let’s start with the question everyone asks, tell me about yourself? How did you get involved in retail; what’s your background?
Nathan Branch (NB): I grew up in a family of retailers. We had a multi-generational family department store in a rural town in Michigan where they stocked almost everything a small-town family could want: kitchen items, perfumes and cosmetics, women’s and children’s clothing, furniture and home accessories, linens and bath towels, etc.
The store was founded in 1877 and finally shut its doors in 1986, no longer able to compete against big box retailers and large shopping malls. Both my parents worked at the store, plus the majority of my aunts, uncles and cousins – I worked there myself from the age of fourteen through my first year of college, so I was raised in an environment where retail shop-talk occurred regularly around the dinner table, as well as being the topic of conversation at any holiday get-together.
Watching the family department store change from the bustling glory days of my childhood (where it was always packed with customers and was considered one of the best places to shop in the city) to the sad, empty-aisled ghost-store it became in the 1980’s was a first-hand look at how market forces beyond one’s control (in this instance, the explosion of new, convenient shopping malls and discount retailers which followed hot on the heels of the difficult stagflation economy of the 1970’s) can throw a wrench into any company’s best-laid plans.
FMM: I’ve read your unique approach to fashion news for over a year now. When I read your recaps and postings, at times I feel like I’m walking through your mind, other times like I’m voyeuristically looking in on a forbidden industry. What’s your method when composing these?
NB: First off, thank you for being a reader. I appreciate my readers, and am gratified that they consider what I’m doing to be unique. Interacting with readers in the comment section of my site (on Twitter and Facebook, too) is truly a pleasure.
But regarding my approach — it starts off with lots and lots (and lots) of web surfing. I have a Google Alerts folder that flows over with thousands of emails a week, I follow brands and fashion critics on Twitter and Facebook, I have a bookmarked list of fashion and luxury news sites, and I have a loyal group of email pals that send me links to articles they think I might find of interest.
So I basically binge read, and then zero-in on a topic when I start to see a pattern emerge. But my biggest concern is that the material presents a broader picture of the fashion industry rather than just who’s wearing what or which famous person is starring in so-and-so’s next ad campaign.
There’s an enormous amount of activity behind the scenes in the fashion, luxury and beauty industries, and these are multi upon multi-billion dollar industries that spread across the globe, so the ups and downs of the industry mirror the roller-coaster ride of the global economy as a whole.
Besides which, the cold, calculated salesmanship of dreams and fantasies fascinates me, and I figured that there must be a lot more people out there who would find it as interesting to read about as I do – but they only have time in their busy lives for the condensed version, thank you very much. So, voila! I oblige.
FMM: What got you started writing your blog in the manner you do, other than a passion for the luxury industry?
NB: I’d been casually following the business and finance aspect of the luxury industry for years, reading newspaper articles and magazine interviews about and with CEO’s and designers, but that was all during the rah-rah bling-bling years when designers could toss a bucket of sequins at a runway and suddenly they were the next big thing.
Then the cracks appeared in the global economy, the ground started to shake under every CEO’s feet and I quickly realized that this was going to be a very special time in the history of retail and manufacturing, that the luxury and fashion world had weathered recession and economic depression before, but never when manufacturing and distribution systems had been this globally far-flung and yet so tightly interwoven and interdependent.
Many brands and suppliers aren’t going to survive the present shakeup, though they’ll all certainly try their best. When you have only 6% of consumers responsible for 70% of all luxury sales, the scramble for that very small demographic is going to get intense, if even somewhat hostile (the present LVMH and Hermes scuffle, for instance). I especially wanted to track and talk about that particular side of the story.
FMM: Why did you add pictures of Sprinkles Cupcakes to your latest blog post?
NB: Well, that was kind of my own inside joke — mostly because the blog post is a back and forth email conversation between myself and fragrance video-blogger Katie Puckrik. The conversation centers around my search for a rich, sweet, decadent perfume, so I used the Sprinkles cupcakes photo to differentiate the emails that were mine from Katie’s, while also reinforcing the idea of the Sugar quest.
FMM: What are three marketing trends that you predict gaining momentum in 2011?
NB: Great, you want me to play marketing psychic. Just don’t quote me on any of this at the end of 2011, okay? Unless I’m spot-on about any or all of them, in which case, quote away!
Low-Wattage Celebrity (or The Compact-Fluorescents of Endorsement): I would expect to see a wider pool of celebrity endorsements, stretching the traditional definition of “celebrity” to include bloggers, YouTube sensations and even locally/regionally popular personalities for more targeted ad campaigns. This already started in 2010, but as more and more brands and retailers are establishing a greater presence on a wider geographical sprawl (online included), this means the one size (or one celebrity) fits all marketing approach won’t be as effective a tool anymore. Besides, a savvy brand could likely afford one thousand Jane Aldridge equivalents for the price of one Uma Thurman, and that’s what I’d call a value purchase.
Baby Boomer Models: Tom Ford just styled a jewelry advertising spread for French Vogue that featured senior citizen models in the throes of passion. I expect we’ll see a lot more of this, as a good chunk of the wealth in the world is controlled by the middle-aged demographic and a lot of brands will come to recognize the wisdom in directly appealing to this age group. Along that same line, we might see a wave of older models hit the high-fashion catwalks and print ads in 2011. Not just the sprinkling we saw in 2010, but a full-on wave.
House Parties: Remember Avon and Tupperware parties? Yeah, neither do I, but I’ve read about them and think that the whole social-network house party method of introducing consumers to new products within the comfort of a trusted friend’s home might just be poised for a comeback. But I’m not talking multi-level marketing schemes – instead, we could see a widespread use of local taste-makers to introduce new brands and products into their established social circles.
Think MAC sponsored slumber-parties at the prom queen’s pad, or an Armani Beauty rep co-hosting a wine and cheese spread at a community bigwig’s home, complete with a buffet of products for all the invitees to test and little gift bags on the way out the door. No pressure to buy, just a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere to encourage product testing and shoptalk. Nothing woos new customers like a pressure-free charm offensive.
FMM: What is one marketing trend you detest?
NB: Celebrity perfumes. The vast majority of them are cheap and awful, which makes the whole endeavor a hideously cynical exploitation of a fan’s genuine sense of goodwill toward his/her favorite star, performer, debutante, whatever. There are exceptions, as always. Etat Libre d’Orange “Like This” is a celebrity fragrance (Tilda Swinton, in this case) that’s arty, unusual and high quality. If all celebrity perfumes were as high quality and creative, I’d happily climb aboard the celebuscent train in a second.
FMM: Now tell me three things you’ve never answered in an interview: Tell me about two situations related to fashion (you may change names to protect privacy) and something totally random.
NB: I’m usually the interviewer instead of the interviewee, so this leaves the answer field wide open! But okay, here goes:
Fashion Situation #1: My mom wore Pendleton suits when I was a child (in bitterly cold Michigan winters), so I have a nostalgic fondness for the Pendleton label and am ridiculously thrilled with its recent resurgence in popularity.
Fashion Situation #2: I worked briefly as a sales assistant at a boutique men’s clothing store in Michigan. The owner sent me to Chicago as an “intern” on a Fall Season buying trip with one of the managers, and it was then that I got a taste of how difficult it can be to predict consumer wants, tastes and/or needs.
We ended up placing orders for what both of us hoped would be a stock of interesting, trendy merchandise that would help the store compete with its mall counterparts, yet the merchandise we brought in didn’t satisfy the shop’s already existing customers, and the store was too small and niche to successfully rope in a gaggle of new ones. Talk about an eye-opening experience.
I still suffer twinges of pain when I walk into stores that have big “Sale” signs posted everywhere — I personally know the frustration and second-guessing behind those racks of unsold merchandise.
Something totally random: The Jurong Bird Park in Singapore is one of the saddest places on Earth.
What can a luxury brand do in one year of carefully curating customer experiences through social networks and social marketing? Well, they can increase their profits 50% and reach over 3 million fans on Facebook.
How long did it take them?
To reach 1 million fans, it took ONE YEAR;
To reach 2 million fans, it took SIX MORE MONTHS;
To reach 3 million fans, it took just ONE MORE MONTH.
Angela Ahrendts, chief executive, told the Financial Times: “The climate profile, gifting culture, young demographics and predominantly male customer base all play well to different elements of our offer.” Through its own social community, Art Of The Trench, and creative content production (that’s spread through outside social networks and social communities like Facebook), Christopher Bailey has designed a creative to thank the fans.
How Did Burberry Get Social Luxury Right?
“Burberry is producing its own original content, in fact Burberry is no longer just a fashion company–today they are a thriving media enterprise. Burberry is now the most widely followed fashion brand on Facebook.
Burberry is successful not just because it makes great clothes, but because it understands the importance of sparking interest in the community and using social media to engage and delight their consumers. Whether Burberry is relating to consumers by promoting indie bands on their Facebook page or celebrating the ideas of the most stylish customers on their site, The Art of the Trench, Burberry is building its brand not simply by broadcasting and advertising to them, but by creating new media experiences for them.” said Joanna Shields , Vice President for FACEBOOK EMEA.
What is important to note is the acceleration, or virality, that Burberry’s consistency generate. It took 1 year to get to 33%, half the time to double that goal and then 1/10 of the time to triple. Burberry doesn’t treat social media like a drive by shooting, it established “social consistency” and made social media one tool that fit into the brand’s big picture marketing and PR strategy; social media didn’t stand alone.
What I love most about Burberry’s social media strategy is that all of the conversations and engagement that the brand take place outside of the brand’s sites, Burberry.com or ArtOfTheTrench.com, are constructed in ways to drive new shoppers and current customers/brand loyalists back to those websites for further engagement or product purchase. This is a strategy that should be at the foundation of any and all social marketing plans a brand or retailer undertakes.
Get down with your social selves!
Fashion Marketing News This Week
- Event: Behind The Seams Conference Los Angeles: On November 20, Afingo ill offer over 1,000 industry professionals a chance to interact with the leading minds of the fashion industry at this day-long fashion industry forum.
- U.S. E-Commerce: H&M Missing Revenue Stream: H&M has a huge online presence, but is losing sales from people in the US and other countries where they don’t sell online.
- StyleTrek To Open Virtual Doors To International Shoppers: Young crowdsourced e-commerce boutique which features independent fashion designers welcomes shoppers from around the world.
- GoldRun Augmented Reality Mobile Platform For Retailers: A closer look at this augmented reality mobile platform, and an interview with its CEO and VP.
- H&M Creates Augmented Reality App: H&M’s new free app allows iPhone users to view, interact with and take pictures of virtual H&M apparel and accessories in front of any of the fashion retailer’s 10 Manhattan locations. Users can also receive a 10% discount on H&M purchases.
Fashion Marketing News Around The Web
- Pop-up Mobile For Luxury Retail v4: The Interactive Mobile Lookbook: The v-commerce FCUK “YouTique” recently implemented by French Connection represents a rich application solution for mobile customers.
- INFLUENCERS Full Version On Vimeo: A short documentary exploring how trends and creativity become contagious.
- Luxury Fashion Houses Embrace Internet: According to the BBC, the big fashion houses are finding their niche online. A look at how a few luxury brands are finding their way online.
- Ten Companies That Will Never Recover From Their Mistakes: 24/7 Wall St. composes a list of businesses that have made errors that destroyed their chance to have a brighter future.
- The Fashion Statement: What Are These Guys Doing In Fashion? New York Mayor Bloomberg announces six initiatives to give the fashion industry a boost. Chad Hurly, YouTube CEO is quitting his day job to work in fashion. Luxist discusses these surprising reports.
Remember that cool site to discover and buy from emerging luxury desginers we talked about a little while back? Yes, you remember the one, StyleTrek. Well, two weeks ago, this amazing site founded by Cecilia Pagkalinawan started selling items from their first round of designers. We spoke with Cecilia on how the site’s community members, known as Style Trekkers, have taken to the designers.
The crowdsourcing site aims to change the way luxury consumers buy luxury fashion by implementing a more social, consumer-centric business model on it’s site by allowing feedback at every stage of the design and production process.
Luxury consumers will have the opportunity to read and respond to designers’ updates, fan reviews, watch collection videos and order apparel and accessories directly from designers’ pages.
In a similar fashion to ModCloth, StyleTrek will not only provide new ways for designers to reach consumers online through social media and eCommerce tools, but also offer a robust eCommerce platform, contacts with manufacturing facilities and regular access to its experienced management team and advisors. Purchase data will be tracked.
“A regular store doesn’t know which items you touched, which items you’ve taken off the rack,” says Pagkalinawan. “We’ll track the items you interact with. If we know you like red, we’ll show you a red bag that’s beautiful.”
StyleTrek predicts that designer revenue will increase tenfold through StyleTrek’s eCommerce platform which will provide regular income for the luxury designers who will receive revenues on a monthly and not pro rata basis. StyleTrek will reach a global audience. What’s even cooler? When someone in New York visits the homepage in the winter, they may see winter coats, while someone in Brazil will be shown bikinis.
FashionablyMarketing.Me: What designers have the audiences gravitated towards most? Can you share any insight to their online shopping preferences or the site’s customer demographic?
Cecilia: We underestimated the market interest we’d receive from outside of the US and Canada. More than 50% of the traffic is international, spanning over 123 countries. I’m excited to announce that we’re bringing forward our international launch date to November when we roll out to 91 countries worldwide. Interest in product has ranged from across the board.
FMM: Tell us about the $1000 shopping spree with a stylist. How many Trekkers entered the contest? Will the stylist provide traditional style advice and add the twist of how to buy investment pieces that will last longer than trends or fashion fashion purchases?
Cecilia: We’ve received over 5,000 entrants. The products will be curated and selected to the needs of the individual winner. The stylist may recommend items to complement her current style or recommend a look that is completely different but looks great on her.
FMM: What provided more awareness for the site, word-of-mouth, community referrals or mainstream PR and marketing efforts? We think it’s all of the above.
Cecilia: We were very lucky to receive great support in terms of editorial prior to launch, which allowed us to generate a strong subscriber list. Media placement through Facebook has also driven considerable traffic to the site. We factor word of mouth into our social media marketing plan via Twitter and Facebook. Referrals have also come in thick and fast. We’re receiving interest through a broad range of mediums reaching out to our circle of friends, bloggers, media, and target members.
StyleTrek raised $1.5M in seed capital from angel investors and venture capitalists including RRE Ventures, Pelion Venture Partners, Primera Captial, Freestyle Capital, Madison Angels, and Angel Hub.