Last Week’s New York Fashion Week (NYFW), otherwise known as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, is a biannual event exclusive to fashion industry insiders (buyers, editors, stylists, celebrities, press). This recent season–shows for Spring Summer 2011–was remarkably well-covered and made transparent to the general public and its mass of consumers.
Let’s take a look at the variety of media in the fashion sphere.
Fashion’s Night Out (FNO): The kick-off to fashion week, is a collaboration between the city of New York, the CFDA, Vogue, and over 700 participating retailers to encourage consumers to go out and shop, with extended store hours, celebrity appearances, and goodies/giveaways. This time around, FNO included the biggest public runway show in NYC history at the new location of NYFW, Lincoln Center (previously Bryant Park tents).
FNO aired as a prime-time special and through live web-streaming on CBS News. According to the Daily News, CBS News producer Susan Zirinsky described Fashion’s Night Out TV coverage like “going to war,” because of the intensity of required media attention. In addition, the event utilized celebrity spokespersons, musicians, a webpage, a promotional T-shirt sold in stores, a facebook and twitter following, Taxi TV ads—a pretty comprehensive cross-platform effort.
Individual advertisers were able to use innovative strategies through FNO without going near Lincoln Center- for example, Volkswagen, who’s opening a flagship dealership in Manhattan, gave shoppers free rides in new Jettas between SoHo and Midtown, as long as they presented a receipt from a participating FNO retailer.
The shows themselves: the NYFW website kicked it up a notch compared to previous years. The site this season was filled with designer features, video, a facebook link. Of course, for anyone to track fashion week, they could do so meticulously through the twitter tag #NYFW (a microsite sponsored by American Express, mind you) and focus on topics they’re most interested in with minute by minute info. Historically, past sponsors Maybelline and TRESemmé, among others, have also involved social media events/efforts. Other twitter feeds regarding fashion week streamed through NY Mag’s blog, The Cut.
Speaking of blogs—fashion blogging has become a career. The increasing influence of bloggers in the industry is undeniable, even yielding an Independent Fashion Blogger’s Conference. According to NY Times, exclusive shows seats are filling up with more and more bloggers, many even in the front rows of shows (typically reserved for big time editors like Anna Wintour or Carine Roitfeld and celebrities). Some blog sites have traffic surmounting those of usual beauty or style sites. Fashionista, Jezebel, Sartorialist, and Fashionologie are among top ranked sites; Bryan Boy, Tavi (yes, a 13-year-old), Lauren Luke have become well known blogging personalities. Live blogs are not uncommon.
None of this is surprising, given that the ease of updating and the rapidness of social media mirror the fashion industry’s need for change and forward-looking quality.
Brands and designers continue to employ mobile and location-based marketing. There are dozens of and fashion mobile apps, including Celebrity Fashion, Style.com, Fendi, etc. Retailers, designers, style networks, even bloggers have been launching mobile apps. Some of these were particularly relevant to fashion show goers/bloggers/etc. seeing photos of shows seconds after they’ve aired.
Marc Jacobs (partnering with V Magazine) is not only launching an iPad app, but also has employed location-based apps like FourSquare. Since last season’s fashion week, Marc Jacobs allowed Fashion Week attendees to “check-in” at Marc Jacobs stores, then randomly chose four checked-in people to attend his show.
A feature on the Prabal Gurung show popped up in my Taxi TV not even a day after his show. And Taxi TVs can selectively play ads based on the location of the Taxi in the city.
For emerging designers that don’t have big ad budgets for print, these different types of media have served well to propel their lines.
What does this all mean? Traditional media (TV, print) are still important in fashion, since they can establish an emotional connection important to an industry that largely involves aspirational elements. The pages of Vogue and other magazines are never unaccompanied by dozens and dozens of ads. This past fashion week, however, even more supported the growth of the role of social media. The fashion industry functions as a community and requires this constant stream of information and dialogue—buzz is invaluable. As emerging media spawns more and more outlets, the challenge for various fashion advertisers will be to streamline these efforts into a cohesive media plan.
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