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Why fashion is behind the social curve

3 min read

Digital Technology

Today’s post is by SmartBrief Sales Associate Mary Kate Slattery.

For an industry that survives by championing what’s out, what to have now and what’s next, fashion has proved a slow-moving, Chanel-clad beast when it comes to the adoption of social-media tactics.

In last week’s “Fashion Goes Social” panel at Social Media Week, panelists on the cutting edge of technology and fashion spoke about the woes facing the industry, how social media can help and their thoughts on the next steps.

Why is the industry slow to adapt?

  • Sandals in the snow are not an easy sell. In a few days, fashion’s elite will descend on Manhattan for New York Fashion Week, where editors and buyers alike will look forward to fall. What happened to spring? Those clothes debuted in September, and therein lies a crippling disconnect between brands, retailers and consumers. When retailers are reliant on this backwards schedule, they have less room to be nimble and innovate.
  • Industry leaders aren’t taking charge. Vogue, famously technophobic Conde Nast’s behemoth print publication, still stands as the fashion industry’s great power. It has the media, the resources and the personalities to make a big move towards mainstreaming social media for fashion. While the company’s dabbled in digital, it has yet to roll out a compelling plan to push fashion beyond the pages of magazines.
  • The problem of luxury. The success of some fashion labels is due, in some part, to their exclusivity. Opening up to the crowd through social media threatens this exclusivity. How does the fashion industry balance the need to stay exclusive with the goal of giving the consumer greater access?

What’s next?

  • A radical restructure. Focus on getting clothes from runways to retailers and matching up production schedules with actual seasons. It’s a tall order, but the Council of Fashion Designers of America actually met on this issue last year. A move such as this would be a huge nod to consumers and would open all channels for dialogue.
  • The rise of the blogger class. Bloggers have stepped up to become the bridge between runway fashion and everyday clothing. They have the power of instant access to consumers that magazines lack, and blogs provides a more dynamic platform than straight print.
  • Brands have the chance to establish a unique voice. Panelist Yuli Ziv cited DKNY’s Twitter presence as a success story. “DKNY PR Girl” handles — you guessed it — PR for DKNY, providing backstage peeks into cool events and runway shows while capturing the youthful urban spirit of the brand. Consumers get a dose of insider knowledge, and DKNY maintains a clear brand presence.

The challenge for fashion is that clothing itself doesn’t translate well to digital. A pair of pants is not a song, and it’s hard to replicate the feeling of a fabric or the fit of a shirt online.

What can the online experience of fashion provide that is unique for consumers, retailers and brands?

Image credit, alvarez, via iStock

“Today’s post comes from SmartBrief Sales Associate Mary Kate Slattery.”