The marketing message is getting personal for fall.
In a harsh mediascape marked by sharp advertising budget cuts and play-it-safe campaigns hawking discounts, change is stirring among fashion marketers. They are making appeals to the individual rather than the masses, reversing the pattern of the past 50 years. They are focusing locally and leveraging lower-cost platforms such as store settings and the Internet to reach their most passionate customers. And they are tapping into the public’s desire to escape day-to-day drudgery in the recession and indulge in fantasies — signaled by the rising popularity of vampires, video gaming and some big-budget movies, among other things.
“The days of big, anthemic, conceptual campaigns are over for now,” said John Gerzema, chief creative officer at Young & Rubicam.
Smaller scale, closer-to-home marketing venues or far-reaching, efficient media like the Internet are being chosen as lower-cost, targeted strategies.
Regularly Tweeting into the wee hours with her 6,300 followers, Lisa Gavales, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Express, has been experiencing unaccustomed demands on her time. Many of her followers, she said, “want a window into who’s wearing our clothes — celebrities, models — who’s shopping our stores, what’s going on behind the scenes at photo shoots.” (Express, which operates more than 550 U.S. stores with annual sales of more than $1.8 billion, also addresses these issues in videos, promotional offers and the like to 48,000 of its “fans” on Facebook.)
The second phase of Express’ fall campaign, starting in September, will spotlight the brand’s young, forward fashions — such as strong-shouldered jackets and military-inspired styles — in print and online, including the word from Gavales to her followers on Twitter, people she sees as Express loyalists.
“I much better understand who my customer is, now,” she said of her fellow Tweeters. “It’s having the conversations with the customers who want to know what’s next.”
Paragon, the century-old sporting gear and apparel institution in Manhattan, is using Twitter’s new media messaging to draw people to real-time events. The sports specialist’s Twitter page recently invited people to join in a Nike training run (“...at 6:30! Try the latest and greatest Nike shoes!”); to get discounted tickets to World Team Tennis, and it listed offers of previous days, like that of free 7.11-oz. Slurpees on 7-Eleven’s 82nd birthday, July 11 (...“for everyone! Find a store near you.”)
While enabling companies to take the temperature of “communities talking about [them] in real time,” Twitter’s burst onto the scene, Gerzema said, raises a “big concern” for marketers: “How do you keep Tweets from becoming spam?”
More broadly, he said, businesses are entering a period when their brands “have to connect on a value and values level” — by speaking directly to consumers’ personal values that are consistent with the value of the things brands are offering, such as high-quality craftsmanship, the cachet of a limited edition, or a strong ethical stance.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast