London got together in a packed house on Thursday to talk fashion for almost an entire day for #SMWLdnFashion. Partnering up with Nokia, major topics included:
Fashion is becoming highly data driven and some of the numbers are leading to concerns that fashion as we know it might be being killed by the speed of social sharing and influencing. High end fashion is now experiencing the what the publishing and music industries went through years ago with regard to information dissemination. Word of mouth has always been a part of fashion hype and in fact 90% of fashion word of mouth still happens offline, but the new tools people are using with the rest of the 10% are throwing some designers and luxury brands for a loop.
The democratization of information is all well and good but there are some concerns that all of the “sneak peeking” done by bloggers and media at fashion shows is ruining the surprise element of collections. Fashion week catwalk’s have become entertainment and people have already tired of the spring collection by the time it hits stores. Catwalk attendee’s now want to shop the collection the day of runway, no matter the seasonal confusion. This is leading some designers like Donna Karen and Tom Ford to ban bloggers, tweeters, and even media all together. With luxury brands will the lack of accessibility to consumers make it more special? Or will brands like Burberry, who have evolved from just a fashion house to a media powerhouse as well be the new normal?
Only 4% of people don’t research a buying decision online before purchase. That’s a staggering 96% of people who are seeking out influence online and on social. For brands, how they seek out those social influencers is changing. Popular fashion bloggers have reached almost celebrity status and some in the industry worry that this over exposure could be killing the shelf life of creativity in fashion all together. If everyone is looking so ‘cool’ then what is really ‘cool’ anymore? Companies are now turning to key influencers, and its not always about the Klout, Kred, or follower numbers. Its more about the vertical area of WHERE the influence occurs that is important. The key to transition from blogger celebrity to real world grass roots advocates is creating not competition but partnership.
When it comes to the future of fashion, companies are having to rethink their strategies online and off. Finding out more about your consumers while they’re in your store will help drive traffic online, and creating encompassing mobile experiences will in turn bring consumer’s in store. Even evolving the traditional brick and mortar shop to more of a showroom situation where people buy and interact with the product through their tablet device while in the store. To successfully connect and build a relationship with the consumer brands will need to connect with fans directly. Alexander McQueen believed “Clothes should deliver emotion.” The emotional element and connection is what will transcend the diluted social sharing and seasonal confusion.
Today’s social consumer is more aware, informed, and conscious. 10,000 items of clothing go to the landfill every 5 minutes in the UK. This overconsumption of fashion is being counteracted by companies like Marks and Spencer and Oxfam that have launched a “Shwopping” initiative with their brands where you bring in unwanted items when shopping for new and swap them out. Donations logged in store with the mobile app earn points for giveaways and discounts.
The future of fashion should aim to be more connected socially and emotionally. Connecting with fans directly builds a connection and finds those real word influencers. But outstanding obsessive customer service will always beat data and discounts for consumer loyalty and positive word of mouth. With marketing engagement yes, go big, go targeted, and go realtime, but in the end you must deliver a quality product and outstanding service for true consumer bonding and devotion.
Beckie Stravers is a New Yorker, lifestyle blogger at Cubicle57.com, and a social media pusher at MakeYourMediaSocial.com. She loves tweets and the internet, and hopes to see you around the world wide web. You can follow her on twitter @cubicle57blog. She is one of our four Official Correspondents covering SMW12 for Crowdcentric.