How the Fashion Industry is Embracing Social Media

4 Mar

“People want to feel connected,” says Kelly Cutrone, owner of People’s Revolution and executive producer of reality TV series on Bravo Kell on Earth. Cutrone has orchestrated the campaigns of hundreds of clients, including Donna Karan and Lisa Marie, and has always incorporated a digital strategy when working with them. “It’s one thing if you are a luxury brand and have been around for 60 years and can weather the retail storm we’ve had, but if you are a new brand that’s just starting out — whether you are a writer or a retailer — innovating through social media is crucial. Those that are hidden and guarded will not progress.”

In the past six months, the amount of fashion insiders embracing social media has skyrocketed. On any given day (depending on who you are following) you can learn that Marc Jacobs president Robert Duffy is still pondering locations for their rapidly approaching fashion show. You might know that designer Rachel Roy had an interview with a media outlet, or that designer Tory Burch is hoping to see models with “some meat on their bones” in her show. By letting the public behind the fashion influencer curtain, stalwarts and luminaries have created and connected to an entirely new audience, and capitalized on the 400 million Facebook users and more than 22 million Twitter users. Social media, it seems, has become the hottest trend since skinny jeans and stiletto heels.

“Ignoring the Internet [and social media] is madness,” says designer Diane von Furstenberg who has been advocating for transparency in the fashion industry for years. “We decided to have a presence because it was a very organic way for us to communicate online. And yes, we think about [transparency] but don’t worry too much. We try to keep the focus on the clothes that are in the store, or buy now and wear now, not what is on the runway. But people will always get access to that as well.”

With her following at over 22,000, von Furstenberg is one of the most beloved and popular designers on Twitter. And while that number doesn’t seem high compared to the 4.5 million followers Ashton Kutcher has, von Furstenberg’s followers are loyal key influencers whose voices hold a certain amount of authority not only in the fashion industry but also in high-tech social circles.

 The viral marketing capabilities of re-tweeting by this targeted group is something an advertising budget cannot buy. Within the last year of having a major online and social media presence, von Furstenberg’s online traffic has increased by 13% and sales “have been great” according to a source in the corporate offices of DvF.

“Brands are learning how to humanize without killing their mystique,” says Shiv Singh, VP and global social media lead at Razorfish and author of Social Media Marketing for Dummies. “You look at brands like Chanel, who have pushed designer Karl Largerfeld into the social media sphere to further connect with their customers, or Victoria’s Secret, who has 2.63 million fans on Facebook and 1.7 million for Pink — you are able to see how these brands are able to connect with their customers and monetize on it through awareness, loyalty and engagement.”

Likewise, Burberry who launched the “Art of the Trench” campaign last summer shot by photographer Scott Schuman saw incredible success by having fans comment on the pictures. Schuman, who has launched himself into the fashion stratosphere with his photography blog “The Sartorialist” says he has never updated his Twitter account (he claims it is someone he doesn’t know who is posting) but has upwards of 34,000 followers. “The Burberry campaign was the first of its kind to not use a large budget for hair, makeup and models. They got me, and my style of taking photos, and it allowed us to communicate with the customer on a whole new and very real level.”


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