Hannah Fillis, Ivy Storvik, and Michelle Belcic

This was a year that forced brands — and retailers — to get real, and Matchesfashion was one company that did just that, changing the way it spoke to and engaged with customers.

Ivy Storvik, editorial director at Matchesfashion, and Hannah Fillis, the store’s head of social and digital campaigns, in a talk titled “Content as a Catalyst for Digital ROI” with Michelle Belcic, vice president, international, of Dash Hudson, revealed how the retailer’s editorial content and social teams took a deep breath and let their guard down in a bid to empathize with customers.

“This year, in particular, we’ve spent quite a lot of time reflecting, thinking about how we consider the customer in our ethos, and asking ourselves some tough questions about our customer. What do they really want and need? What’s important to them? What’s relevant for their lives?” Storvik said.

She added that over the past six months the focus has been on “telling stories about our designers and our customers, and giving a platform to emerging designers as well as established ones.” She also said the teams wanted to relay that “there is a healing power, a joy in fashion. It can really help you feel uplifted.”

As part of its storytelling and outreach efforts during and after lockdown, Matchesfashion launched The Innovators Series, which saw it identify 12 emerging designers that it will promote for 12 months. Those designers and labels include Charles Jeffrey Loverboy, Halpern, Art School and Bianca Saunders.

Fillis said The Innovators Series harnessed the power of all the Matchesfashion teams. “We had just come out of lockdown, and The Innovators was one of the first shoots we did. We brought all the teams together, from production to social media, to make it happen. We produced content that was relevant for different platforms and channels and rolled out 100 different stories. Collaboration was key.”

Indeed, during and after lockdown, Matchesfashion couldn’t rely on outside creative agencies for any of its visual projects, so the teams continued doing fashion and social shoots themselves — on the iPhone or over Zoom — something that would have been unthinkable just months earlier when life at the retailer was far more structured.

In the thick of lockdown, the Matchesfashion team also launched an “At Home With” series of videos, offering tips on at-home activities such as flower arranging or dessert-making in a bid to connect with an anxious audience that wasn’t necessarily in the mood for spending money, or dressing up.

The result was spontaneous and sometimes raw — but authentic. Storvik said: “We definitely looked at our tone of voice during this time. I think we all were feeling rather fragile, everybody was feeling very aware of what it meant to be a human. We acknowledged that vulnerability in our tone of voice, acknowledged that people’s state of mind was worried or anxious, and we actively addressing that in our content.”

She added that, with lockdown easing and a vaccine in sight, Matchesfashion has moved on, and “begun to embrace the notion of joy and self-expression” as it speaks to its evolving, and more upbeat, customer base.

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