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Vogue’s Forces of Fashion event hosted some of the biggest names in fashion and technology, from Vogue Editor-in-Chief and Condé Nast Editorial Director Anna Wintour to Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom. We attended the conference alongside our brand partner and event sponsor HP and walked away with an inside look at what's happening right now in the fashion industry.

Here’s what can’t be ignored: Social media has directly impacted consumer behavior in the fashion and retail space, and social media influencers represent a winning strategy for the increasingly difficult challenge of reaching modern shoppers.

The digital era has changed the pace of the fashion industry.
Social platforms have nurtured a consumer culture that craves “retail immediacy.” High-end fashion houses must compete with fast fashion and the lightning speed pace at which trends rise and fall. 

Ten years ago, Fashion Week was an insider event where industry stakeholders, press, and top trendsetters had exclusive access to next season's collections. Coverage was shared in a very controlled way, and the clothes hit the stores months after that first showing.

Today, the entire week is live-streamed, tweeted, and shared by digital influencers to millions of consumers who are ready to buy now. The world of high fashion must now compete with a world where garments are produced, marketed, sold, and disposed of at the speed of digital clicks. One can easily purchase a sweater almost instantly after seeing it on Instagram, only to recycle it on an app like Poshmark months later.

Social strategy plays a major role in how brands adapt and succeed in the new market.
Designer Stella McCartney exclaimed, “We’re looking to tech and apps for the future of fashion.” Meanwhile, Demna Gvasalia, Creative Director and Designer of Balenciaga proclaimed, “We need shifting and surprising methods to move fashion forward.” Socially-led marketing techniques offer a solution for brands.

Digital consumers don’t rely on glossy magazine features for fashion inspiration. They’re scrolling through Instagram, saving their favorite photos, and clicking-to-buy looks that their favorite influencers are wearing. For luxury brands, shifting consumer perception from unattainable to within reach is a challenge that social influencers can help solve, as they have the power to affect the purchase behavior of their audience. When done right, influencer strategy can foster brand affinity among new potential customers online.

“This is the intimate generation. This is a time of disruption and fulfilling your dreams/passions.” Demna Gvasalia

Inclusivity is cool: Consumers want to participate.
In today’s market, shoppers are empowered to make their own decisions – relying more heavily on peer recommendations and less on traditional advertising messages. Luxury fashion brands must develop credibility among today’s savvy customers who are using social platforms to discover and connect with brands that draw them in. 

An interview between designer Marc Jacobs and Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom revealed that the most powerful forces in fashion and tech are dedicated to meeting this new cultural norm. Jacobs reflected on social media as a new standard for how we experience the world and each other, and Systrom revealed that Instagram is developing more integrations that foster participation and interactivity, like the Instagram Poll feature.

Advertisers are responding with campaigns that celebrate real people and create moments for interaction between customer and brand. We’ve seen fashion and beauty brands, like COTY, Old Navy, and Sephora work with social media influencers to design interactive campaigns that promote inclusivity, humanize their messages, and thus, widen their reach. 

Real-life experiences bridge the gap.
Today’s consumers don’t trust traditional ads – they follow and trust social influencers, relying on them to keep them up to date on what’s new. As fashion brands continue to accelerate their seasonal collections, capsule collections, and ready-to-wear lines to meet customer expectations and compete with fast fashion, real-life experiences are an effective strategy to amplify these initiatives.

"Now is the time for growth. There's a major shift happening in fashion and tech right now. We want experiences." Anna Wintour

Inviting fashion influencers to participate in exclusive branded experiences builds relationships and advocacy among key trendsetters. Influencers capture the moment via Snapchat and Instagram Stories, bringing their own audiences along for the ride. 

Storytelling is still central in connecting with customers.
Designer Dries Van Noten, in conversation with fashion journalist Hamish Bowles, stated, “The beginning of a project, or opportunity, should start with an idea, concept, smell, etc., and end with a full story.” We couldn’t agree more.

One of our most fundamental human traits is our drive to tell and experience stories. It’s how we learn, and often how we connect with one another. Digital influencers have built audiences on the strength of their ability to do just that – to weave engaging stories that people genuinely love and continue to stay engaged in over time, which is why they’re powerful brand advocates.

In our recent work for HP, we partnered with influential voices in fashion, photography, and tech to help tell the story of HP’s partnership with Vogue at the Forces of Fashion event. Creative director and photographer Zanita took over HP’s Instagram account, while NYC fashionista Krystal Bick and small business owner Chasing Paper captured Instagram Stories. Content illustrated the power of HP’s innovative technology for capturing the moment and printing images in real-time while spreading awareness of Vogue's 125th-anniversary event.