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Going Live: Social Media + The Future of Fashion

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As WWD noted last week, "Gucci is doing it. So are Oscar de la Renta, Donna Karan, Target, Urban Outfitters, Louis Vuitton and Rachel Roy." Once content to thrive behind the decadent curtain of whatever fabric was currently season, social media, like fashion blogging and reality TV before it, has forced fashion into a new level of access. So in today's fashion world, an aspiring fashionista in Kansas can get a glimpse into Betsey Johnson's day, submit a design for a Coach Tote, and tell Teen Vogue via Facebook that they like the latest issue, all with a few keystrokes. It's a world where teenaged fashion bloggers are invited to design shoes for major retailers and limited-edition handbags are hidden across NYC, hints given away scavenger hunt style on Twitter. Pretty remarkable, don't you think?

What is also important to note are the conversations taking place with the laptop powered down and the phone on vibrate at the bottom of a bag, conversations of the face-to-face kind about the future of our industry and opportunities to engage with the innovators and leaders who are shaping it's evolution.  These meet-ups and collaborations are not only contributing to the industry's awareness level and willingness to shift when it comes to social media strategy, but the business world at large is taking note of how fashion is taking up space online.

Recently, at the 140 Conference in New York, fashion entrepreneur  Yuli Z and fashion marketing expert Macala Wright discussed fashion + social media in regards to Twitter. It's worth a listen to hear about how issues of privacy and even trends themselves are being affected by this new form of communication.

Even more recently, 360Fashion, a network of high level fashion professionals using the latest web 2.0 and mobile to create online media, hosted a mixer in New York that was streamed live using the 360Fashion Live streaming Facebook application. The purpose of the event was to bring together top bloggers and fashion professionals to discuss how new media is affecting their professions. Top make-up artist Regina Harris, (she recently did Chanel Iman's cover look for the May, 2009 Bazaar) and celebrity and Vogue stylist Lisa Von Weise (Lindsey Lohan, Penelope Cruz) answered questions from attendees, sharing insight into the fashion industry, how they use online media, where the find inspiration, and trend spotting, in an open-ended discussion.

360fashionLIVE

For those who were unable to attend, I asked Anina, founder of 360Fashion,  to take PR Couture readers through the night. If you were able to attend, I'd love to hear your thoughts and insights.  In Anina's words...

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The audience had some very powerful questions for Lisa and Regina regarding the pressure of fashion week and the resources used when they are planning photo shoots. Both Lisa and Regina rely heavily on the internet for research. Lisa browses blogs and uses style.com for their photo albums. She feels that blogs are more insightful and give her more inspiration and perspective than traditional media. She says that the time frame for job turnaround and planning is very short, so being able to browse the style.com collections in her home in peace is a great service, while being able to read fashion blogs gives her a perspective into what is happening on the street.

Regina on the other hand browses the web for inspiration: photos of bruises, paint splatter, art, are all helpful in bringing reality to her technique. Everything is very well researched and requires often trips to museums, or even walking around on the streets for inspiration.

Risi-Leanne Baranja, Editor-in-Chief  of Palacinka Beauty Blog, gave insight into how Palacinka has built an online audience and how their experience with comments has recently shifted,from comments on the blog itself, to comments on their Facebook page, as a result of sharing a recent post on their fan page, to via Twitter.  Regina agreed, saying that people will often read her blog and then comment on her Facebook page about the blog article. Anina commented on this behavior saying that it was why 360Fashion was integrating heavily with Facebook and Twitter.

Rodney Cutler from Cutler Salon stopped by to be interviewed in the 360Fashion Live stream on Facebook. Rodney says that Cutler is moving heavily into the online media space and already have integrated video screens and fashion week videos that their salon sponsors into their salon decor, and there is hope for the Cuttler blog yet!

Collective Hardware provided the space for the evening and were very accommodating for the event. They announced plans to bring an online art and fashion community to life. Already the Collective Hardware space has integrated video cameras, hifi systems, wifi throughout the floors, a fashion store where they showcase young designers, and a prosthetics lab downstairs that Regina went to see, stating that she was glad to have such a place nearby--normally they are in Los Angeles. Regina intends to expand her business into special effects as her photoshoots are often crossing over between art and fashion.

The discussion of mobile and online vs print media was very interesting. Lisa von Weise, when asked about having her styling shown on a small mobile phone screen, commented that she had long ago given up on the idea of everyone seeing all the details that go into dressing a model for a photo shoot. The layers and the accessories often are fine details that create the overall look so she did not thing that the size of the photo mattered, and that it was more a question of convenience and reaching a wider audience. Regina commented that having every detail of her makeup visible in the iPhone magazines was not really an issue, and agreed with Lisa's comment about how their work is there to support the photographer in getting the best overall image.

Marco La Conte and Davide Cernushi, both photographers who attended the event, had a discussion with Anina about why they were not participating online. Both Lisa and Regina agreed that in their experience it was the backstage information, the how to, or why of fashion was the most interesting for modern readers of the web and that their blogs were there to give this insight. Comments were made about how the concern from high-end media producers regarding quality loss on with digital media and about how having recopied images of album covers and ripped sounds, were diminishing the quality of the artists producing the work. Regina commented that her perfume could not be creative with a more handcrafted, artisan approach, and that she would not be able to mass produce it because she makes everything, from the bottle to the scent itself. However, what she found interesting was that online sales of the perfume way outnumber the sales in Barney's New York--even though Barney's was percieved as far more exclusive and prestigious.

2 Comments

  • Posted July 9, 2009 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    I think it’s interesting how social media has changed the very essence of how any business is conducted and how job descriptions are being revamped. Selling products and penetrating the market has never been this easy! One of the criticisms I have with the mixture of social media and business is losing personal connections with your customers and with yourself too. In a way, you are fully immersed in social media as is the person you are trying to target, that no one takes the time to get to know each other.

    What’s so great about social networking websites is that it puts fashion houses like Chanel and La Rok on the same level of accessibility. Even though one is more exclusive than the other, being a friend on Facebook or following them on Twitter is almost as good as being in the “know.” Fashion has done a great job in integrating social media into its public relations and marketing strategies. This reaches a more diverse set of people who may not have been interested in fashion before.

  • Posted November 5, 2009 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    Hi Christina,
    Thank you for commenting! I am interested in what exactly you mean by social media reducing connections between people – my experience has been the complete opposite. Though, the connections begun over social media are certainly cemented further by meeting in person. I completely agree with you in terms of accessibility – there is something so right to me about this dissolution between high and mighty brand and consumer.

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Meet Crosby Noricks

Hi. I'm Crosby, the founder of PR Couture and a fashion brand strategist. I care about supporting and celebrating fashion publicists as well as helping companies connect with their audiences in more meaningful ways. Recently, iMedia included me in their annual list of 25 Internet Marketing Leaders and Innovators, along with people from Starbucks, Twitter and Volkswagon, which I think is pretty neat. Like Elle Woods, I am a Gemini-vegetarian (that's about where the similarities end). Let's connect: Check out my full bio, Brand Elixer sessions or shoot me a note.