Social Networking and the Fashion Industry

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The fashion industry is starting to adopt social networking marketing strategies to drive online and retail sales. They are, in increasing numbers, using  Facebook, Twitter and Youtube to develop brand and customer loyalty. The industry has been ‘fashionably late’, at least by geek standards, to the social media party. They did not recognize the ability of social media netizens, to rapidly relay the power of a strong emotional attachment to a particular brand, to friends and peers.

The innovators in this emerging field are companies like American Apparel, a company that never shied from publicity, and other emerging brands that saw the potential led the charge. Soon we had mass retailers like Sears’ and JC Penney and high end brands like Oscar De La Renta and Louis Vitton creating a social networking presence on Facebook and Twitter . These tools are becoming increasingly valuable in gauging clients feedback and understanding what and how to relate to their clientele.

Social Communities

As fashion brands begin to understand the importance of social media, many are beginning to create their own public or private invitation only communities, creating a sense of belonging, which only strengthened their appeal. They have also started to partner with fashion-orientated web portals such as our own MontrealFashionBizvie, or communities like Polyvore that sponsor contests so that they can attract the younger generation and develop brand identity. Some of the recent communities leveraging social networking such as Polyvore , Modepass, and Lookbook Nu are improving customer loyalty while yielding impressive ROI for their investors.

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There’s an app for that

This is one of the areas that the fashion industry adopted rather quickly to. Perhaps it’s the catchy slogan or the fact that a large percentage of the fashion industry are iPhone lovers, but they have flocked to the app store like a designer sample sale at 555 Chabanel St. From Chanel’s runway collections to StyleCaster’s style tips, customized news feed and fashion trends, they have an app for that. JustLuxeis actually using GPS to recommend to its members participating restaurants and hotels within their area. Strangely enough, there are only 41 Blackberry apps for the fashion industry, so it remains to be seen if it is the love of the free iPhone app or the slower development cycle of RIM’s team.

The Year Of The Blogger

Wordpress, Drupal and Joomla have made the maintenance and upkeep of professional looking web sites so much simpler that anyone with something to say the venue to say it. Blogs are changing the way print is being published and the way that Brands are marketing themselves. There are innumerable sites dedicated to fashion all attempting to be the next fashion authority. Gala Darling, Bryan Boy, and even 13-year-old Tavi are receiving world stage recognition in the couture world.

Check out the caricatures created by our artist, to see if you need to catch up on your fashion blog reading. Use the 'Comments' section below to post your answers.

Fashion Bloggers

The social networker has broken down the hallowed walls and allowed the creative writer an opportunity to develop cult status. Of course, the ease of creation of blogs also means that as their numbers grow so will the competition for readers. There will be more questions (even more than now, that is) on the viability of being able to monetize and sustain these blogs for the long run. The face, type and business model of the fashion blogger will evolve accordingly.

Dynamic Web Content

The face of web design has shifted with the adoption of social networking as center stage. Dynamic web content is constantly being updated with unprecedented ease. Facebook, Twitter and blogs have allowed users to follow the brands they admire and are the first to tell their friends. Brands are beginning to understand this power and encouraging it. G-Star, a Dutch clothing company launched a social media campaign to find “reporters” to attend their fashion show at the recently concluded New York Fashion Week. A Montrealer, Cindy Lou of modetrotterblog.com, was one such reporter. Charlotte Russe offers weekly trivia contest on Twitter that channels followers to the website or their YouTube channel for potential prizes. Their “CR Fan of The Week” contest also encourages their followers with a “style assignment” asking them to post a photo to their Facebook wall.

What’s Next?

In 2010 with a better understanding of social media, Brands and Retailers will continue to innovate their message. Newer social media innovations like ‘foursquare’ could further enable the fashion industries ability to enhance their branding and appeal by focusing on hyper local positioning and branding opportunities. The addition of the iPad and other tablet computers will improve content delivery and extend the industry’s online presence. We’ve already seen the rise of streaming and mobile broadcasts of runway shows, and will see both digital and e-commerce launches of new products to reach a more targeted client at reduced costs.

By Allan Diamond of lifeceyecle.com

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