A guest blog post by Ashley Laurel
Sure fashion brands still need to have stylish forward thinking designs and create enough marketing content to start, but consumers are devouring brands’ content and repurposing it in new ways across the social web at astonishing speeds.
Early last summer I blogged about the curation trend where I recognized Club Monaco’s CM Culture Club, a place where brand employees could share their favorite styles, food and people. I also recognized e-tailers including Rue La La and ModCloth who were allowing some of their pieces to only be sold by popular vote.
Today, social curation gives online users the ability to actually choose favorite fashion finds and share them on sites like Polyvore, Everlane, Pinterest, and Tumblr (the early site for social curation). Though it’s easy to get hung out on trying all the latest and greatest technologies, remember not every fashion brand needs a Twitter handle or Facebook page or to partner with bloggers. As usual in life, less can be more if done well.
Here are four things that incorporate the curation trend that could be used in a fashion brand strategy.
1. Build out your site to include user curated content.
A brand should let users do more than write reviews about items of clothing. Let brand consumers upload photos of themselves or create inspiration boards using your brand’s pieces. By doing this, you’re sparking creativity in your consumers with in a sense giving them a competition. Consumers will generally be more innovative as to how they put outfits together to try to be seen and talked about once others jump in too. And many fashion consumers love to say “look at me” once they’ve bought something new. Why not give them the ability to do this right on your site? ASOS, an e-tailer located in Europe is a great example of how a fashion brand can go about this. The only thing missing that another brand could expand upon? Making sure users who are curating content are actually focused on your brand.
2. Partner with startups.
This is an oldie but goodie, and means that brands must stay in the know about new online platforms and mobile apps hitting the markets. Polyvore, a digital collage like site that’s basically a veteran to the fashion social media scene at this point, is well known for launcing brand based contests, including partnering with such fashion brands like H&M. Polyvore technology is also available for brand websites (Charlotte Russe has incorporated it) and brand Facebook pages (Bergdorf Goodman has implemented this).
The next thing to remember is that many fashion startups are actually mobile based apps. With the drastic increase in mobile fashion apps in recent years like ShopNear.me and Snapette, fashion brands have even more resources nowadays to reach out to consumers. ShopNear.me, an app that lets retailers list their merchandise and any upcoming sales or other updates per location, really giving a true integration between brick and mortar stores and new technology. Snapette, another mobile app, gives users the chance to upload photos taken at retail stores to show other shoppers their local finds. This app too is building the link between traditional retail and technology.
3. Work with bloggers not against them.
Integrating the newest thought leaders in fashion, the bloggers, will only strengthen brands’ relationships with consumers. Why? Because many bloggers started blogging as a hobby and have already generated their own reader base. What brand doesn’t want to reach more consumers? By choosing to partner with a fashion blogger, a brand is giving those blog’s readers a taste of how their brand fits into the blogger’s life. With the staggering number of bloggers out there, fashion brands can have their pick at the type of online voice they want a blogger to have as well as choice audience that’s already in place! Rebecca Minkoff is a great example of how to partner with fashion bloggers, having done so for a few years now. After initially reaching out to a few bloggers, the Minkoff brand began calling this group of thought leaders “Minkettes” and has since built a blog on the brand website that gears toward the true fanboys and fangirls of this brand. Now “Minkettes” is a cute term that everyone in fashion correlates with the Rebecca Minkoff brand.
4. Embrace social curation.
What’s the most fun you can have second to having fun? Talking about it. With technologies from startups like Pinterest, there’s a whole new way of sites that let users sign up and share any images they want from the web in their own collections. Social curation is definitely the perceived golden ticket to social media success for fashion brands this year, with brands like Kate Spade, ModCloth, Michael Kors, and Kmart. The true standout from this list of brands is Kate Spade. It’s the Kate Spade brand who’s quickly updating photo boards on Pinterest with behind-the-scenes glimpses and inspirations of the new Spring 2012 campaign. Social curation sites (forget exact site names for a moment) give socially curated content a place to thrive. Within seconds of posting, fashion fans and consumers are able to glimpse into their dream world and to curate their own content using brands’ content in ways that make sense to them.
Why all the hype of fashion and new technologies now? The hype isn’t really that new. Sites like Mashable, the New York Times, WSJ, and WWD have been coving this growing convergence for a few years now. New technologies just continues to really leveling the playing field in terms of who is a fashion trendsetter or even thought leader in this space and it’s really anyone’s game in terms of online popularity.
Ashley Laurel is the founder of Pretty-Innovative, a blog about the convergence of fashion and technology that covers topics like digital marketing trends in the fashion industry, related event recaps, and wearable technology.
She’s worked in online marketing for more than three years and is currently a social media analyst at IDG focused on top tier B2B technology clients.