NEW YORK — Wool-industry executives from around the world attending the “2012 Fashion + Retail Market Report: What’s Working Now and Why” seminar were given wide-ranging insight into the U.S. market.
Presented by Woolmark International and WWD as part of the 81st International Wool Textile Organization Congress, the event included fashion and business trends for the wool growers, spinners, weavers and manufacturers that filled the theater at the MillenniumBroadway Hotel in Times Square, but the overriding topic was social media.
Speakers at the May 8 seminar discussed how social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, is changing the way brands and companies market themselves, how designers interact with their customers through it and how goods can be sold on it.
Designer Christian Siriano said, “Social media has definitely become a part of my everyday life over the past few years. I constantly share news and thoughts with my fans and followers on Twitter and Facebook several times a day. Doing so has been such an amazing new way to connect and converse with my customers.”
Siriano, a “Project Runway” winner, said being a fashion designer in this age of digital sophistication has afforded him the luxury to connect with customers on a more personal level and on a daily basis.
“I love being able to share my journey and give a behind-the-scenes look at what we’re doing and working on through my social-media networks,” he said. “For those keeping track, I currently have over 324,000 followers on Twitter and over 72,000 fans on Facebook. In addition, social-media channels are also a great way for me to learn what my customers want to see, what they are loving and what is trending. It has certainly been helpful for me as a designer, and is such a quick and easy way to gather information. Most all of the fashion magazines, blogs and writers are on Twitter as well, so it’s an amazing way to connect with them, keep them updated on what I’m working on, and also for me to stay updated on what they are looking for and responding to.”
Siriano said he finds the most responses are generated when he shares something personal with followers, gives them a preview of his collection or engages them by asking a question or for their opinions.
“The point of connecting through social media is that it’s a conversation, and if followers feel like they aren’t being heard or acknowledged, they will lose interest,” he said. “In addition to wanting to follow the news of a brand or designer, people really utilize social media in order to feel a direct connection to a person or brand that they love.”
Siriano said he also relies on in-store experiences such as trunk shows at Neiman Marcus, noting that he “always attends the trunk shows, as well as the sales meetings, so that I can get to know the managers at each store carrying our line.
“Events like these are still so important, and I feel that they are just as valuable as ever, but it is the combination of these in-person interactions and social-media conversations that make my experiences and relationships with customers that much more powerful,” he said. “For example, as a result of promoting a past trunk show on Twitter, I ended up connecting with a new customer, and she showed up to the trunk show and purchased her first dress from my collection. It is instances like this that prove to me the incredible role that social media plays in continuing to grow our loyal customer base.”
Rachel Roy also emphasized the important role that social media plays in her company and in helping her understand what her customer wants.
Roy said starting a secondary line for Macy’s presented challenges because it has many more deliveries and style choices than her designer line, yet she doesn’t want to create anything that is not inspiring. Roy said she gets vital feedback on both her collections from personal appearances in stores and from social media such as Twitter and Facebook. For instance, customers let her know what fabrics work within their lifestyles, and the prices they want to pay.
“The customers need value, and for that garment to work for them in various situations, to be versatile,” Roy said. “The wear and tear of fabrics is important — does it travel, does it wrinkle, does it need to be dry-cleaned?”
Chris Pyne, chief strategy officer for advertising agency MediaCom, said, “Because of the impact of the financial crisis and the continuous rise of digital marketing, firms are pressuring their marketing organizations to ensure that investments in all marketing channels are more measurable, accountable and transparent. More than ever, senior marketers have to demonstrate a direct link with business results and positive ROI for their entire marketing budget.”
Pyne said nearly two-thirds of chief marketing officers think return on marketing investment will be the primary measure of the marketing function’s effectiveness by 2015, based on a recent IBM study. But he warned that it’s as difficult to measure that ROI as it is to choose the best channel for the brand’s marketing.
“With new digital channels comes an abundance of rich but complex data sources that marketers need to translate into coherent metrics,” he said. “In 2009, individual consumers created more data than in the entire history of mankind through 2008. Vendors need to integrate current and emerging data streams into their mix models and help marketers interpret them to inform actionable business decisions.”
Pyne said there are a number of interrelated factors that influence a brand’s marketing success.
“It is everything from your nonmedia drivers, such as seasonality and holidays, to media tactics and even competitive spend,” he added. “The complexity required to gather all of the various component data feeds and conduct analysis leads us to develop a scaled data and analytics solution.”
Linda Fargo, senior vice president, fashion office and store presentation, at Bergdorf Goodman, gave a slide show presentation featuring important looks she identified for the upcoming season.
In colors, Fargo cited dark greens, dark blues and purples as keys for fall, as well as a group she called “iced pastels” for the more daring woman. In shapes, she noted peplums, high-neck looks and volume were important, while head-to-toe prints and engineered motifs could come into play for those looking to be more outgoing.
Overall silhouettes that should be strong for fall included military, “romantic heroines,” “borrowed from the boys” and “crossover looks that mix contemporary styling with designer sophistication and fabric selection.
Asked by one audience member if wool was important for fall, Fargo said it was part of the mix but challenged the wool industry to come up with lighter-weight fabrics and to work more closely with designers, brands and retailers on product development.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews