October 15, 2019
By Paul Herrera
It’s been more than a century since some ateliers of the early 1900s in Paris began hiring women to wear their creations in public shows, those were the forerunners of the modern fashion weeks. Even though the number of fashion weeks around the world has been increasing over the past two decades, New York, London, Milan and Paris are still the capitals of the most awaited fashion weeks.
The new millennium brought not only an increase of events, but countless changes. The technological evolution has inevitably and heavily affected this kind of events and the fashion industry in general. The way to conceive, design, showcase and sell clothes has been reshaped.
Digital Media changed completely the audience of such shows, potentially composed by thousands of people and not limited only to editors as before. Indeed, magazines are no longer the filter between designers and the public, whose expectations and hunger for novelty grow and need to be always satisfied.
Social Media opened the doors of the fashion industry to several fashion bloggers and influencers who are daily connected with their audiences and customers by their immediate and steady content. With these new protagonists and platforms like Instagram, fashion became almost completely bidimensional. Hence, it is crucial for emerging and iconic designers to adapt to the ever-changing times and tendencies, especially for the ones who attend fashion weeks in order for their brands to stay in vogue and visible on social media.
Now that the fashion month is over, we can draw conclusions on what emerging and iconic designers did and showcased to impress the public and target the customers.
Among the many designers attending at the “Big Four” Fashion Weeks, Chanel is the one who got more mentions on Twitter during the Paris Fashion Week with almost 119K mentions, followed by Burberry which was mentioned around 88.6K times during the London Fashion Week. These data don’t surprise, given the world renown of the luxury brand. What instead surprises is that more than half of posts mentioning the brand was directly related to the attendance of Jennie Kim at Chanel show as “House Ambassador” (51% of overall Chanel’s mentions). The K-Pop singer stole the spotlight on social media from the catwalk and the show itself.
Considering that 11.4% of the posts were talking about the model Gigi Hadid escorting away a french comedian who crashed the Chanel runway, and the rest of mentions were mostly links to articles about the highlights of PFW, dresses definitely aren’t the element that drives the conversations about fashion weeks on social media and calls the attention of the users.
The most mentioned emerging designers were Marine Serre who got more than 10K mentions through the 9 days of the PFW, followed by the other french designer Koché with almost 2K mentions. Press and users were amazed by the post-apocalyptic scenario of the show reflected in the dark colors of the dresses that recall the petroleum and the rampant contamination.
Marine Serre was not the only designer concerned about the environment. For some years now, sustainable clothing has been a trend at Fashion Weeks, where many designers showcased outfits made by recycled materials. It is part of the big movement called “Positive Fashion” aimed to promote and contribute to a positive change within the fashion industry by supporting environmental protection, inclusion and diversity.
Despite being matters of broad debate on social media, posts about sustainability and inclusion related to the “Big Four” from September 6th to October 1st 2019, were respectively only 9.9K and 12.4K, considering all the initiatives, designers and the other actors involved such as famous guests.
Within the 12.4K post related to inclusion, “NO SESSO” by Pierre Davis, the first trangender designer attending a fashion week, was the most mentioned inclusive label (570 mentions). Its debut at the New York Fashion Week was widely covered by the media and most of the conversations on Twitter were press driven.
The same goes for the luxury childrenswear brand “Lulu et Gigi” which chose as ambassador the 9-year-old Daisy-May Demetre, the first double amputee model walking the catwalk at Paris Fashion Week. She stole the show from designer and dresses and caught the attention of the press and social media audience, generating about 900 mentions on Twitter.
This overall low number of mentions reveals that even though several designers at the Fashion Weeks follow and are inspired by the new widespread social tendencies, probably they do not promote and leverage them enough to create a buzz around their labels on social platforms. Thereby, fashion weeks remain events almost entirely discussed and reported by the press and online magazines.
The right intuition by a fashion designer to gain more visibility and clamour on social media can make a difference in terms of success and appealing of the brand. Various designers tried at the four fashion weeks: for instance at NYFW Tom Ford presented his collection at an old subway station, and Pyer Moss invited an orchestra to play live at his show.
Nobody succeeded in stirring up the massive audience of Twitter, except one: Donatella Versace at the Milan Fashion Week. The renowned italian stylist astonished the public at her show when Jennifer Lopez showed up on the catwalk with a renewed version of the dress she wore to the Grammys 19 years ago.
Almost 100% of Versace’s mentions on Twitter (about 134K) were due to JLo. Most of users in their tweets expressed admiration for JLo’s beauty and perfect shape despite her 50 years. Some of the posts were reminding the curious fact that the idea of Google Image Search was born in 2000 just because of JLo and that Versace dress (12.7% of overall mentions), when the internet broke down because of too many people looking for a picture of her at the Grammys.
Jennifer Lopez just closed the Versace Spring 2020 show in Milan in a reimagined version of her iconic 2000 Grammy dress. pic.twitter.com/aoX2XFlHdz
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) September 20, 2019
In the end the “old” Versace demonstrated to be extremely clever and cutting edge. Perfectly conscious of the great effect this initiative would have generated on socials and internet in general, she showed her talent not only for art but also for marketing.
Nowadays this kind of intuition is the added value of a good marketing strategy. They can be the key for designers to stay relevant and for occasional events like fashion weeks to stay in vogue and avoid the risk to become outdated in the eyes of the public.
The best way to develop the right strategic insights is to understand as much as possible what social media audiences look for and what they consider actually attractive.