Gone Digital: PR Implications of Fashion Week in Flux


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Over the past month, our social media feeds were overrun with posts coming in from around the world (New York, London, Milan, and Paris) as designers and their marketing teams worked hard to raise awareness for their label’s upcoming fashion shows and F/W collections.

As Paris Fashion Week comes to a close, there’s no doubt that fashion labels continue to experiment with digital marketing and social media, and that those strategies are often media stories in and of themselves.  With the activation of the fashion world’s expansive blogger network, live-streaming runway shows in real-time, and technology like Google Glass and Snapchat, industry experts have questioned the benefit and purpose of fashion week itself. With digital tools providing designers the ability to quickly disseminate new collections to press and direct to customers, what role does the runway show play in today’s market?

While many fashion executives will undoubtedly be demanding big, digital ideas from their PR and marketing departments, fired up from reading about a competitor’s latest Mashable exclusive, the most telling insight to come out of the recent shows comes from Shelly Socol, the executive vice president and founder of digital agency One Rockwell, who told WWD of the social media mayhem; “there is so much going on that it’s becoming overwhelming.”

When the use of social media tools no longer become innovative but rather expected, brands have to dig deeper into their pockets to secure the proper distribution and amplification of their message, or risk making a simple wave in a tsunami of campaigns, hashtags and user-generated content. Stuart Weitzman’s #madeforwalking Milan Fashion week campaign featured Kate Moss and a multilayered social media initiative including an Instagram contest. A campaign that arguably in months prior would have newsworthy failed to generate expected engagement rates.

A big learning for brands this year has been that, as the novelty of “going digital” diminishes, timing, unexpected collaborations and platform usage emerge as critical to campaign success. As the team at Weitzman shared with WWD in the aforementioned article, the common strategy of capitalizing on a huge fashion event, and requisite media attention, to boost campaign coverage and participation simply could not cut through the excess of tweets, Instagram shots, contests and coverage being driven by the industry.

Is the fashion industry drowning in digital?

How will fashion brands continue to adapt and cut through the noise? Socol believes success lies in brands who “devise a digital blueprint for their online strategy, including social media, e-commerce and marketing efforts..[and] execute these campaigns during a time when the space isn’t inundated” is key.  For publicists, it’s a tough landscape to navigate with clients and agencies at various levels of digital fluency and the function of fashion week changing into a more consumer-focused event. Those who are able to develop holistic strategies that meet the needs and relevancy of consumers and media, harness emerging trends while making full use of the gamut of communication tactics available will find themselves in high demand.

Photo Credit: Jason Hargrove

Christina Goswiller

Christina Goswiller

LA native Christina Goswiller traded palm trees for the Stanford tree, where she studied political science and graduated with honors in 2012. Since her move to San Francisco, she has fallen in love with the entrepreneurial spirit of the startup world. Christina is particularly interested in the growing importance of technology within the fashion industry, which she follow through her work with Tribe Dynamics.