With their stores closed and operations drastically reduced due to the coronavirus, fashion brands are communicating with their consumers in new ways, keeping them busy during the forced self-isolation at home and making them feel part of a community.
Social platforms, once cluttered with products, are now giving way to quizzes, online conversations, styling challenges, cooking and fitness classes, and even invitations to color, draw or write letters.
“Playing with technology is key right now for brands to find new opportunities to stay in touch with and engage their customers,” said communication consultant Matilde Carli.
“Now, more than ever, in order to elaborate winning strategies and capture the attention of consumers, companies have to communicate not only in an emotional way, as already demonstrated by recent marketing strategies, but also including a strong fun and interactive component. This is key to create an exchange rather than a one-way communication,” agreed Filippo Richeri Vivaldi Pasqua, managing partner of FSB Group, a network of integrated communications agencies. “This moment when the final consumer is accessible only online will be crucial to establish a long-term, solid relationship: a moment when creating storytelling, in an entertaining dimension, that will be further enhanced in the stores hopefully in the near future.”
Some offering pure distraction, others more instructional pieces, here an array of new initiatives by European brands during the pandemic.
Balmain’s creative director Olivier Rousteing, already hyper-active on social media, is corralling famous friends and other members of his Balmain Army to share stories, inspiration and creations as part of an initiative tagged #BalmainEnsemble (ensemble is the French word for “together.”)
His fall 2020 men’s show was prescient in its use of a dance ensemble linking limbs and moving as one, a spectacle that served as the visual YouTube teaser for the program.
On his Instagram feed, which boasts 5.9 million followers, Rousteing has been laying out vintage sketches and imagery, foreshadowing The Archives segment: a romp through the Paris house’s history as it marks its 75th anniversary this year.
For The Intermission, Rousteing plans to reach out to his friends, muses and “inspiring creatives” for online talks “about how to best rely on beauty, art, sport and friendship to guarantee that this new stay-at-home period can be as interesting and productive as possible.” First up is a live chat with singer Maluma on April 1 at 9 p.m. CET.
Input is welcome, up to and including “the selection of the songs, themes, fabrics, cuts and colors for future Balmain runway presentations,” according to the house.
Rousteing also plans to conscript stylists and designers he works with to “issue weekly creative challenges” for home-bound followers. And for pure distraction, he plans to upload black-and-white sketches for coloring.
The Florentine luxury fashion house is banking on its own heritage and rich storytelling to engage with its audience on social media. To entertain its community, the company launched the Trivia digital project inviting users to rediscover and test their knowledge of the brand’s history and key products via anecdotes and quizzes. The program has been developed in five episodes, scheduled on Wednesdays and Saturdays until April 4 on its Instagram stories.
Keeping in touch in such a difficult moment is crucial for Red Valentino to continue nourishing its loyal community. The brand is unveiling today a digital project, developed in collaboration with three friends of the house — artists Charlotte Farmer, Ollie St Clair Terry and Matteo Giuntini. In particular, launching a digital epistolary challenge, Red Valentino created a letter template which participants can use to write personal letters. These can be decorated with the stamp-shaped GIFs conceived by the three artists taking inspiration from the vibrant decors of the brand’s spring collection. The best letters and messages uploaded with the hashtag #DearestRED will be shared on the brand’s Instagram Stories section.
MC2 Saint Barth
The Italian beachwear label, which operates 43 stores, including a recently inaugurated unit in Miami, launched a creative initiative on Instagram offering the opportunity to download the template of swimwear pieces and beach bags to decorate with customized patterns. “Many of our customers are kids and this project was particularly addressing them. Our iconic symbols, including the Vespa scooter, the Cinquecento car, ducks and crabs bring children’s memory to the seaside and the sunny days spent on the beach. In this moment, when they have to stay home, we liked the idea of giving them some freedom,” said Massimiliano Ferrari, MC2 Saint Barth founder and creative director. “Paola and Federica from our social media team had the idea for the project, which has been super successful. We are receiving hundreds of drawings and many of them are really great and very smart commercially…we are considering producing some of them and the proceeds from the sales will be destined to the fight against the coronavirus.” Ferrari also said that mothers were also enthusiastic, since they found a fun way to keep their children busy at home. “Of course, our biggest dream is to see our youngest customers running free and playing on the beach as soon as possible,” Ferrari added.
The Indie denim contemporary brand has been offering its fans and customers a full show schedule on its Instagram account since March 25, when it debuted a range of mindfulness retreat sessions in partnership with Berlin-based collective She She. Originally slated to take place in Berlin with friends of the house, the event was adapted to the digital channel in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. “Basically, as a brand, you have to ask yourself how you currently want to communicate with your customers and what you are using your reach for. Of course we want to continue to sell our products online as long as we can, but there are other topics that are becoming more and more relevant these days, including offering some entertainment and needed distraction,” noted Gordon Giers, one of the company’s cofounders. “On top of that, we want to support our network — freelancers and longtime partners — and get them in front of the camera,” he added.
The program of activities included cooking lessons with Julia Heifer, the chef behind Berlin’s hip neighborhood eatery LOK6, teaching how to make malt bread, jam and pesto sauce, and vinyasa yoga lessons with She She’s Steph Cusack. Banking on the buzz around the partnership, Closed stepped up the game, continuing to provide its clients with inspiring and amusing content on its Instagram channel under the #WeAreClosedTogether moniker, a pun on the social distancing the health emergency has imposed. The brand is posting videos to its platform inviting different guests each day, including Patrick Maschke. a professional trainer who shared 20 exercises to stay fit during the quarantine, and Johanna Dumet, a French-born painter currently based in Berlin, who offered a studio tour and taught the audience how to paint a cat in her signature brightly colored brush strokes. On Wednesday, Closed is inviting Australia-based writer and influencer Courtney Adamo, who will share her tips on how to manage a quarantined life with five kids.
Since late March, the eco-friendly contemporary brand has been offering a weekly schedule of activities through live sessions on Instagram that include yoga lessons with international trainers and cooking classes, for both adults and kids — the latest with Barcelona-based chef Jordi Cruz Mas, who explained how to avoid food waste. In keeping with its green mission, every Sunday the brand is also sharing tips on sustainable-related topics, including book suggestions and documentaries to watch to stay informed.