The fashion industry seems to walk a fine line between exclusivity and a much wider reaching appeal. Whether it’s through diffusion lines or private VIP events, different aspects provide patrons of the industry with alternate access points.
The exclusivity typically reserved for industry insiders or top tier customers can, at times, be unraveled and intercepted by the mass consumer. With social media, especially, these access points are changing, and the lines of exclusivity blurred. The global and democratic degree of the recent fashion week in New York begs the question, is fashion week becoming a consumer facing event?Industry people and customers have long been treated as separate audiences. Industry folk are those who create the objects of desire and decide how, when and where to sell them. They craft the brand’s message from the product’s creation and inception through to the distinct story they use to sell it. Customers have been the eager recipients of this story; always anxious to get their hands on the new products and make decisions about the brands they spend their dollars with.
Many tools exist to serve each of the audiences. In store experiences, marketing campaigns and press placements have long been at the disposal of marketers to facilitate the industrial part of the industry, the actual selling of merchandise.
Fashion week, however, has always been a sacred tool of the field, reserved for a select group of insiders, and engineered to appeal to them specifically. Over time, fashion week has changed dramatically from the somewhat mundane business-minded presentation to the full on event that it is today. Fashion week, to many industry insiders and onlookers, is now much more than designers showcasing new creations to buyers and press. Instead, fashion week has a sense of magic, of arrival and excitement. Attending one of the big runway shows feels as though you are bearing witness to a spectacular display of beauty, style and art that’s engineered to ignite lust, inspire awe and entertain.
As brand Facebook walls are bombarded with backstage footage, and as #nyfw takes over as a trending topic, the fascination of customers with an insider event becomes escalated. Much of this fascination has to do with the fact that Fashion Week once felt exclusive to customers. It was a place they weren’t allowed…until now.
Even still, seats at the most coveted shows remain difficult to attain, and seats to any show are still inaccessible to the majority of the population. But through live streaming, twitter and blogging, anyone around the globe can take a participatory role in fashion week.
And the industry has responded. At nearly every major show, there were bloggers in attendance. Over thirty-something shows were streamed live on Youtube.com/liverunway, which was even available in a mobile version. Norma Kamali presented her collection in a fun 3D film that will also serve as a campaign and interactive game for her customers. Oscar de la Renta crowd-sourced a fashion show in real time on a dedicated Tumblr especially for the event. Even J. Crew joined the line up of the official Mercedes Benz Fashion Week this year.
So is fashion week still intended for the private industry business insider and elite member of the press, or has it become fodder for each brand’s next campaign? The answer lies, perhaps, in the choices of each designer.
Photo Credits: The Washington Post
Interested in this topic? We are, too! That’s why we’ve invited top brand marketers and bloggers to speak at FashionForward. Speakers include DKNY, Bergdorf Goodman, Kate Spade, Anthropologie, Edun, and Gilt Groupe. Space is extremely limited and tickets are going quick. Visit the FashionForward site for more info and to request an invitation.