Fashion and luxury brands still grappling with Facebook and Twitter should brace themselves: Foursquare and Google Wave are among new tools on the horizon with potential applications for brand building and e-commerce.
Experts are still counseling measured and clear-headed steps into the digital world, which continues to be unfamiliar and tricky territory for brands accustomed to tightly controlling their image and information about their products and business.
“Fashion has struggled a lot with the acceleration of everything,” said Lucian James, founder and creative director of strategic consultancy Agenda Inc., based in New York and Paris. “Whether they like it or not, in the new environment, luxury brands are also publishers. They will need to find new kinds of information and new ways to deliver it.”
James said “real-time” is poised to be one of the buzzwords of 2010. Suddenly, “the amount of information that marketing and public relations teams can generate is an increasingly small percentage of what is being said,” he said. “And because of the way search engines work, it is the most popular voices that rise to the surface. That’s the power of the blogger.”
He characterized the shift to social media as “just an extension of the democratization of fashion” that has gained momentum in recent years.
Still, the rush of new technology and media is unsettling for brands accustomed to delivering a monologue rather than engaging in dialogue, and imposing large-format images rather than 140-character tweets.
“You have to embrace it and not fear it,” said Antoine Arnault, communications director at Louis Vuitton, which ranked number one in the apparel category in LuxuryLab’s annual ranking of 109 luxury companies according to their online competence, called the Digital IQ Index. “It’s a way of being closer to your customer.”
Arnault is certainly hands-on with digital communication, even tapping out impressions on Twitter last June when he traveled to New York to present Vuitton’s creative director, Marc Jacobs, with the CFDA’s International Award.
“If Kanye West comes in our store on Rodeo Drive, we’re going to Twitter about it,” he said. “[People] want instant information, not only on products but who’s wearing it.”
Yet there are hazards and challenges on the way to online resonance.
For example, using a cocktail party analogy, James said sending out facts and figures about a brand’s heritage on Twitter, as Vuitton does, is tantamount to “announcing your birthday without being asked. It’s not wrong; just not the most comfortable or most interesting thing for everyone else to hear.”
“Online information transmission doesn’t work in the same way as offline: You don’t drop 30 ad spots on a Web site just as you would do on TV,” added Uché Okonkwo, founder and executive director of Paris-based Luxe Corp. “Today’s Web is about exchanges, connecting and dialoguing, and all these things are new to luxury brands.”
@kering_official is spinning off its stake in puma in an effort to focus on its luxury brands, the brand operator announced yesterday. “We are proud to have supported the turnaround of Puma, which now has unrivaled capabilities to take full advantage of the specific dynamics of its global markets and is poised to achieve substantial growth,” said François-Henri Pinault, Kering’s chief executive officer and chairman. Artémis will become a “long-term strategic shareholder” of Puma with a 29 percent stake. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
The fashion world mourns for celebrated street style photographer, Nabile Quenum, who died at age 32 in Paris.
Quenum, creator of the fashion blog “J’ai Perdu Ma Veste,” was a fashion week fixture, and regularly shot for New York magazine’s The Cut, among other outlets, and brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moncler and Adidas. He was also actively involved in the #NoFreePhotos initiative, which kicked off in the fall. Read more about Quenum in @kbsmoke's story on WWD.com. #wwdnews
@verwanggang and @maisonladuree have teamed up on a dessert collab called Vera Wang Pour Ladurée. The collection, which launched this week, features a specialty macaroon, as well as a wedding cake inspired by one of the designer’s gowns. “I could not imagine a more delicate or sophisticated creation to grace any couple’s celebration,” said Wang. #wwdfashion
“I’m Russian and I love to use all these little tricks that I got from my grandma or my mom. We didn’t have a lot of money for creams or anything like that so we would use a garden as a beauty treatment regime. We’d put cucumber in the fridge and do a cucumber mask,” says model @irinashayk on one of her beauty hacks. WWD asked celebs what their go-to self-care rituals are. See what Naomie Harris, Freida Pinto and more said on WWD.com. #wwdeye #wwdbeauty (📷: @zefashioninsider)
Exclusive: @viktorandrolf are teaming up with @Zalando on a collection made from leftover clothing. The lineup, which lands at the retailer February 1, includes 17 pieces adorned with sliced up and repurposed overstock from the retailer’s private label collection. Pictured here is a look from the collection –– see more on WWD.com. #wwdfashion #wwdnews
@duewestnyc is the newest bar joining the collection of intimate neighborhood-focused spaces in the West Village. The cocktail menu, which includes bitters and syrups made in-house, offers a “Build Your Own Old-Fashioned” – like the one pictured here – where guests can choose from a list of spirits and unexpected sugars and bitters. #wwdeye
Spotted at last night’s National Board of Review gala in NYC: Angelina Jolie. Jolie – along with Meryl Streep, @lupitanyongo and more – continued the all-black dress code from Sunday’s Golden Globes. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)