From live-stream runways to virtual fashion shows, social media is shaping the luxury fashion landscape
The ever-increasing smartphone sales and the explosion of social media, both on a global scale, are prompting industry-changing trends that are also steadily streaming into the exclusive world of high-end fashion brands. The combination of mobile devices and social networks have created a need to document wonderful instantaneous experiences for many. In turn, it has also called for a transformation and a response to a younger, more experiential consumer market which brands cannot ignore.
The change is far from superficial because it cuts to the very heart of luxury fashion. According to Christopher Baily, the CEO and Chief Creative Officer of Burberry, their high-powered clients are beginning to discard the age-old fashion tradition of waiting for the next new line to be displayed by models on a runway, or poring through thick magazines weeks after their release.
“The reality is that, today, we’re bombarded with images, film and music. To try to recreate the energy that you created five or six months ago, you’ve got to just question how relevant it is,” Baily told the Top Tech News.
Relevance and how immediately they can find out more about their product are what’s important to fashion buffs today. Today’s working generation, who have the available cash, and credit limit to spend on the pricey brands, do a lot of their shopping, research, and purchases online. The Business Insider notes that fashion brands which have invested in long-term digital strategies have seen a concrete surge in sales. Burberry is one of those at the forefront. Kering’s fourth-quarter revenue in 2015 rose by 15 percent while Gucci’s increased by 13 percent at the same time. In a related news report by Channel News Asia, YNAP CEO Federico Marchetti admits that smartphone owners using their cellular devices for e-commerce are responsible for 50 percent of their sales; the fashion giant made over 1.7 billion euros last year.
BBC News acknowledges that Burberry is one of the brands that are now leveraging on their social media success. Its social media arm has 20 platforms that promote its line to 40 million people all over the world. Burberry also pioneered the virtual runway, which was a live-streaming service that showed actual models displaying their new clothes over the Internet. Neither was it a one-way street. Viewers who want to buy what they see models wear on the catwalk can click on a link to order.
Instagram and Snapchat have also raised celebrity endorsements to an all-time high. Business Insider notes that one photo of Kylie Jenner wearing a stunning designer brand is immediately seen by millions of her followers. No words are needed to promote it further. Snapchat, with its daily average of 7 billion video clips, is a powerful force to reckon with. Milan Fashion Week has taken note and invited fashion brand owners, models, celebrity endorsers, and customers alike to post their photos on social media.
Information in all its visual splendor will become the main driver of customers of luxury fashion brands. Smartphone users are already making their selection online even before they enter an actual store or mall. BBC News cites a McKinsey study saying that although purchase is still being done at the stores in real life, three out of four shoppers admit that online content influenced their choices.
“The affluent are making informed choices and they search for data on the Internet,” says Dom Einhorn, the CEO and founder of finance and business news app Born2Invest. “Our users are industry leaders, influencers, and entrepreneurs who value their hard-earned money and aim for the highest value especially when it comes to their fashion choices. They check our news reports and trending features every couple of hours to guide them in their purchases.”
Given that a more affordable virtual reality tech is just around the corner, shopping in the fashion landscape would literally bend physical boundaries. According to Top Tech News, the Council of Fashion Designers of America is foreseeing a virtual fashion show where customers “enter” and “digitally try on” the clothes.
Social media will radically transform the ways that the luxury fashion will do business, market themselves, and enlarge their customer base. As McKinsey puts it, “The question is no longer if and when luxury brands should embrace the digital opportunity, but how they should go about doing it.”