At PR Couture, one of our favorite organizations leading the charge when it comes to fashion & technology is Third Wave Fashion. TWF, in partnership with Stitch Factory and VegasHack, recently published the “State of Fashion Tech Report” in support of its recent Hackathon event in Las Vegas. In case you aren’t familiar, the Hackathon brings together innovators who aim to “collaborate, compete and pitch new code and technology solutions both great and silly,” and sounds like a pretty enjoyable way to spend a weekend.
The report is a wealth of expert insights and trends to get excited about (3-d printing and wearable tech are certainly on my list), but I’ve summarized three with the most relevance to the digital fashion PR space below. Anyone with a soft spot for the fashion industry can benefit from these insights, and I urge you access the full Third Wave Fashion State of Fashion Tech Report here and share it with your colleagues.
The Current State of Fashion Tech
The number of web-based fashion companies within the startup world has grown exponentially. While increased competition for investor dollars could be seen as a reason not to get involved in the pace, there is actually a great deal of stability and growth being experienced among these companies. According to Third Wave Fashion, the healthy relationship that has grown between the fashion and tech worlds shows no signs of slowing down given that both industries are “future-driven, product focused, and populated by young and passionate consumers.” Fashion Brands Excelling at the Intersection of Fashion & Tech do the following:
Create Opportunities for both Online and Offline Engagement
It used to be a boon to get a fashion brand to go e-commerce. Then, it was to extend that digital footprint into social media, and then back to the website through content strategy. However, these days the most successful fashion start-ups have learned to combine technological advancements with more traditional in-person experiences in order to engage with consumers both online and offline. The combination of digital campaigns with corresponding live parties and events allows brands to develop closer relationships with followers.
As fashion publicists understand all too well, a mark of the changing times is the evolution of media as gatekeeper and the rise of the Direct-to-Consumer Movement. As Forbes predicted at the end of 2012, “building and distributing a successful brand in the Internet era is about addressing the new behaviors of an evolving customer base by leveraging the changing landscape and its new dynamics.” Brands that have been the most successful in the e-commerce space are those that have created an online experience that speaks to the customer’s interests and closely mimics the intimacy of the offline experience. Storytelling marketing techniques have received a great deal of attention as one of the most powerful ways companies can communicate appealing brand storylines through digital campaigns. When it comes to monitoring and measuring these efforts, brands are taking advantage of the tech platforms like Olapic or software like Tribe Dynamics to manage efforts to drive consumers to continue to create and share content (aka earned media).
Companies to watch: Everlane, Moda Operandi, Stitch Collective
Act Like Publishers
While not a new trend, one way that fashion brands continue to combat the change in editorial opportunities is to become content creators themselves. These days, many fashion brand websites resemble independent publications, publishing original content for consumers on recent trends, style suggestions, and designer news. These companies make themselves more trustworthy in the eyes of consumers by turning their websites into a resource for information in addition to being a vehicle for making purchases. This makes sense, considering the growing consensus amongst marketers that consumers are looking to be told what they want, whether it’s a product or specific brand/style. Articles and endorsements on these sites in addition to customer reviews have an incredible impact on consumer choices.
Companies to watch: NET-A-PORTER, ModCloth, Asos
Make themselves available to customers on-the-go
In 2012, Mobile generated $8 billion in retail with smartphones, and it’s already surpassed this number for 2013 hovering at $12 billion of late. It’s hard to argue with numbers like these; mobile will be occupying an important place in fashion retail in the future. Even more incredible are the statistics for tablets, quickly becoming the shopper’s preferred tool. According to Fast Company, tablets have officially surpassed smartphones in web usage, with 70% more page visits.
Companies to watch: Sephora, Free People, Aerie
The web as afforded a wealth of places to align with like-minded individuals. In fashion, startups are empowering niche communities, focusing on community-building and charting new territory for companies that put their consumers at the heart of marketing decisions and business growth.
For a little extra inspiration, check out this TED Talk from Seth Godin that has been a constant source of inspiration for me, in thinking about how to engage with brand communities.
What tech or media trends are you on your radar?
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Photo Credit: stephenvance