As fashion starts to warm to the idea of digital fashion shows, San Francisco-based, tech-powered Betabrand is seizing the quarantine mood to host a “Work From Home Fashion Show” and social shopping event on its web site April 15 at 5:30 PT.
The interactive runway show will feature professional women from around the world wearing Betabrand’s signature Dress Pant Yoga Pants, and incorporate live chat, multiple live video feeds, polls, purchase events, GIFs, emojis and other bells and whistles for viewers.
“Social distancing has made the world wonder what fashion shows of the future will look like. Same goes with shopping in general. This event may provide a glimpse of what both will look like,” said Betabrand founder Chris Lindland. “Imagine if malls are closed, how can the Internet create the same social energy? We have all the technologies in place today, we just have to mash them up.”
The live WFH show will be an extension of the company’s live “Friday Specials,” which it has been hosting weekly over the last year to drop new product, using homegrown technology “blending interactive ingredients of Twitch, Peloton and QVC,” explained Lindland, adding that the work-from-home restrictions “have forced us to learn how to broadcast from many locations at once, making us well-prepared to broadcast a fashion show from many locations.”
Lindland founded Betabrand in 2010 with the idea of building a social network to crowd-source designs, and made headlines two years later with a Mark Zuckerberg-inspired, executive pin-striped hoodie that came out with the news of the Facebook IPO. Over the last decade, he and his design think tank have gotten people talking with such offbeat, social media gold garments as the “caperon” (combination superhero cape and barbecue apron), and a “suitsy” (an adult onesie made to look like a business suit).
But he found his sales niche with women’s pants, functional enough to wear for yoga, but with sophisticated styling details, buttons and pockets for casual workplaces. To date, he’s sold two million pairs of the Dress Pant Yoga Pants, which since the coronavirus pandemic he’s been marketing as Work From Om pants. And Betabrand was on track to sell upward of $70 million in Dress Pant Yoga Pants and other athletic workwear products this year before Covid-19 hit.
“The show is absolutely still going on at Betabrand,” Lindand said, offering that the company, which employs 68, with manufacturing and shipping from Hong Kong, is putting new product on the web site every day. “We have recast our yoga pants as work-from-home product, and with good fortune that’s worked. Especially since people on social media are debating whether pants are even required. Fortunately, there are enough people who like to switch from sleep sweats to something resembling professional attire before they sit down to work.”
While Betabrand’s growth trajectory has flattened for the moment, Lindland said he continues to have at least 1,000 customers a day coming to the site, and 1,200 at any given second tuning in for the weekly live drop events. He expects 10,000 to 15,000 viewers over the course of the one to one-and-a-half-hourlong WFH fashion show with concurrent viewing peaks of 1,000 to 1,500.
To cast the 20 to 25 “models” for the WFH fashion show, he turned to the brand’s closed Facebook group of 2,000 super fans, who sent video clips of themselves doing their best “runway” walks at home. Some of the Ph.D. candidates who helped model his first women’s collection in 2014 will be returning, Lindland said. “Our fans tend to be doctors, lawyers and nurses…it will be a high IQ set of fashion models.”
Musing on the future of fashion in the post-coronavirus, digitally empowered age, he added, “If brands use this kind of tech, it could be fashion week every week…there’s no shortage of creativity, but they should be looking to translate it into a multi-medium thing that’s more interactive — so fashion shows are less the one big event and more the physical part of an ongoing online event.”