Blog : London Fashion Week

When Style transforms into a Story

When Style transforms into a Story

Today marks the start of London Fashion Week (LFW) which can only mean two things for the week ahead, stylish consumers will be glued to their phones and fashion brands will be working a lot of overtime.

LFW is the opportunity for journalists, consumers, buyers, celebrities and influencers to catch a glimpse of the next season’s collections six months before they hit the shelves – unless it’s Nicola Formichetti, then you can receive it within an hour from Amazon. But do not fret, if you are without an invite or ticket, this season, fashion brands and influencers alike will keep the FOMO at bay. And if you are within the 150,000 who are attending then well done, you’ve essentially made it.

Thanks to its audience of more than 500 million users, Instagram Stories has evolved to become the top choice for fashion brands to trial instant content. According to Instagram Advertiser statistics, 75% of Instagram users take action after viewing an Instagram sponsored post, and the number of brands using Instagram Stories is expected to rise to 70.7% by the end of 2017.

But how do Instagram Stories actually provide long-term value for a brand with content disappearing after 24 hours?

Fashion brands will benefit from this platform in a number of ways; whether it’s providing a countdown or showcasing their garments in action, it will create an impact. By inviting their followers to witness behind-the-scenes action of models getting fitted or practicing their walk pre show, this will provide an in for fans to what was previously an exclusive experience. This indoctrinates the viewer to become invested in the brand, becoming encouraged to view future posts and establishing longer term brand affinity.

You may have seen organic posts with ‘swipe up’ at the bottom that are reserved for users/brands with 10k+ followers. Most brands will have these verified accounts, enabling them to link out to their websites, landing pages or blog posts from within their stories – helping to provide a ROI for their short-lived stories.

A study from Rakueten Marketing has found that premium fashion marketers will pay up to £93,000 per post, showing just how powerful influencers and their stories are to an event like LFW. This year Topshop have invited actress Sophia Brown and Women in Fashion co-founder Lily More to take over their blog and to involve them both in a live streaming via Topshop.com.

For the social media spectators like myself, it’s a long term benefit to the brands to provide access into the behind the scenes of the event and are exposed to every aspect of this season’s collection, developing brand ambassadors and fans and fortunately Instagram Stories provide just that.

Fortunately London Fashion Week lasts a full 7 days, unlike Insta Stories – which can only be a good thing for fanatics like myself! So before you tap through those #LFW posts, take a second to think about the lasting power of Instagram Story.

Feuding in the Front Row: Vogue vs. Bloggers

Feuding in the Front Row: Vogue vs. Bloggers

I normally take Vogue’s word as truth; its latest move however, is not one I’m sure I agree with. In an article commenting on Milan Fashion Week, a selection of Vogue’s top editors and directors got together to criticise the new residents of fashion week, the bloggers, calling them ‘pathetic’ and ‘embarrassing’. Cue a lot of very angry fashionistas…

Sally Singer, Vogue Creative Digital Director said; “Note to bloggers who change head-to-toe, paid-to-wear outfits every hour: Please stop. Find another business. It is beyond funny that we even still call them ‘bloggers’ as so few of them even do that anymore.”

And Alessandra Codinha, Vogue.com Fashion News Editor, remarked: “Rather than a celebration of any actual style, it seems to be all about turning up, looking ridiculous, posing, twitching in your seat as you check your social media feeds, fleeing, changing, repeating. It’s all pretty embarrassing.”

Ouch.

 

The story so far

So, what is it about the fashion bloggers that has got Vogue’s back up? Many suggested it was jealousy or that these influential members of the Vogue team were reluctant to adapt to the constantly evolving fashion landscape. Rewind only a short few years and fashion week was absolutely the playground of the editors, stylists and buyers. Now, there has been an obvious shift and it’s clear that this new wave of young, hot, in-demand style icons are taking over.

Fashion Week FROW
One editor expressed her distaste at the amount of time a blogger spends on their mobile either documenting the runway or checking social media feeds. Although, they probably do watch the entire show via their iPhone screen, that is what’s required to give followers what they want. And you can bet there will be a Vogue photographer at the end of every runway – isn’t that the same thing?

The nature of blogging has certainly changed a great deal over the last couple of years and a blogger’s social media channels have become just as important, if not more so than the blogs themselves. Social media allows bloggers to share their experiences instantly and allow avid followers to experience these events alongside them. Bloggers provide an instant access to the fabulous world of fashion week; they capture the hustle and bustle pre-show, give us a first-hand look at who made the cut and who didn’t and, often, showcase the runway show in its entirety, all from the FROW. This means we no longer need to wait for a magazine to come out, or even online platforms to be updated – we see it in real time.

But, are the bloggers really to blame? Shouldn’t Vogue be pointing the fingers at their friends, the designers? It is after all, the designers who will select the lucky influencers that they wish to show off their clothes and attend their shows. In recent years, successful fashion bloggers have amassed a staggering social media following and considerable influence so it’s really no wonder the fashion designers are turning to these social media moguls to showcase their brands. Fashion week is changing and at many shows this season, these millennial influencers, a mix of models, actors and the insta-famous, populated the front row and even the catwalk, leaving the fashion editors, literally, taking a back seat.

Carla FerragniVogue is extremely powerful, but so is the blogging community and I can’t help thinking that Vogue should embrace the changing face of the fashion industry, rather than trying to bring down their online counterparts. In a way, what Vogue and the best fashion bloggers do isn’t all too different. They promote their favourite brands, and they are paid for it. Perhaps most confusing, Vogue Spain’s latest cover girl was none other than super blogger Chiara Ferragni (The Blonde Salad). So it seems like Vogue are happy to use these influencers to sell magazines, just not so happy to welcome them into the world of fashion week.

 

What happens next?

There’s no doubting the fashion bloggers are here to stay and they have done a great job of establishing their role in the industry, securing attendance at the hottest events and partnerships with the best brands and cultivating a loyal and dedicated following. Perhaps Vogue needs to learn to share the limelight and feel assured in its own position and contribution to the world of fashion, it is Vogue, after all! At Stripe, we work closely with both online influencers and traditional print media and see the benefit and value of these platforms both individually and, even more so,  when they are integrated and a campaign or message can be communicated via the two.

Although, all being said, I’ll still be picking up the November issue this week…

AW16: JUMPING ON THE DIGITAL BANDWAGON

AW16: JUMPING ON THE DIGITAL BANDWAGON

LFW2-Article ImageAmidst the topical ‘broken fashion system’ debate flooding trade news since the end of last year, it appears that the fashion industry is now undergoing a major shift to meet the demands of the digital age – or more specifically: generation Z. Fashion brands are currently trying to work out where they fit into this digital world and how they can meet the expectations of the modern consumer in order to stay relevant (Final Fantasy x Louis Vuitton Spring / Summer ’16 anyone?). During a time where technological advancements are allowing us to download, live stream, and process information as-it-happens, how are fashion brands responding to a world that simply wants everything now?

As Kirsty recently discussed on the blog, Burberry has been quick to jump on the digital bandwagon as a way to raise its profile and introduce the heritage brand to a wider, younger and social media-savvy audience.  But Burberry hasn’t stopped there: the British label’s creative director, Christopher Bailey, has most recently announced it’s plans to make all collections immediately available for purchase online and in-store from September, with shop window displays and media campaigns changing the moment the show is finished. Following the news, Tom Ford, Tommy Hilfiger, Proenza Schouler and Rebecca Minkoff have all been quick to reveal plans for a similar shift into direct-to-consumer shows.

LFW1-Article Image

If this ‘see-now-buy-now’ experiment wasn’t enough to satisfy consumers, fashion brands worldwide, including Burberry and Tom Ford, have said they will start showing seasonless men and women’s ready-to-wear collections together on the catwalk, twice a year.  This new strategy takes place not only to take some pressure off the business, but also as a result of new digital trends evolving around gender fluidity. Paul Smith and Vetements have also confirmed they will begin showing their collections in this format.

The purpose of fashion shows and presentations used to be so that designers could show their collections to the industry’s journalists and buyers – in the hope of good press and placed orders – and were (and still claim to be) trade-only events. But since the introduction and popularity of live streaming, social media, mobile apps, street style, and blogging welcomed a completely new and commercial way to consume fashion, the fashion world has gradually allowed itself to become more widely and instantly accessible to its consumer.  Having gradually moved to a more consumer-led approach, the industry now finds itself in a position where it is no longer deemed reasonable for its consumers to preview collections seasons in advance, and then have to wait six months for said collection to be available for purchase.

The British fashion industry is contributing upwards of £26 billion to the UK’s economy alone, yet we still seem to be looking at an industry that is so desperately looking at ways in which it can realign itself with the digital communication cycle. I don’t know about you, but if technological advancements and consumer acknowledgement are pushing brands to change the face of fashion as we know it, be that moving the focus from trade to consumer, then Autumn / Winter 2016 has already established itself as a season like no other. Watch this space.