How Luxury Fashion Brands are driving change in the Luxury Sector
Amber Coleman, New Business Senior Executive at VERB, looks at how luxury fashion brands are driving change and disruption in the 300 billion luxury sector. She looks at three examples, Balmain, Teflar and Balenciaga, who are leading the way.
Keeping up to date on what luxury fashion brands are doing in the digital and media space is challenging as innovation is happening at an incredibly fast pace (and its showing no sign of slowing down). Perhaps this change has accelerated because of the global pandemic, forcing brands to think differently like never before and engage with the virtual online consumer in more creative ways? Or, perhaps brands have just simply felt the pressure to disrupt after years of similar marketing initiatives and campaigns? We all know how luxury brands can be quite the same.
But right now, for luxury fashion brands to stand the test of time and break through a very saturated “same same” market (whether that be through social media or brand campaigns) they need to take risks and think out of the box, but also remain authentic and true to their own story and values.
Here are three of my favourite examples of brands doing something different…
TV Production: The Balmain 5-Part TV Series
Balmain recently quoted entertainment was a new strategy for communicating its values. Not only this, but the brand believes “scripted drama is the future of brand storytelling”. The luxury fashion house is hoping to turbocharge its marketing and set new benchmarks for the broader luxury fashion sector by creating a scripted entertainment series, which it says will shape future relationships with customers. Txampi Diz, the CMO of Balenciaga explains “Other projects from luxury brands always have a fashion approach. In order to do a project like this we really need it to work from an entertainment perspective. Fashion is in the background”.
Balmain has worked with Channel 4 on it’s series drama, Fracture, a five-part short-form drama series. The content will be available to view on demand on All4 and via the Balmain website. Diz says the ambition extends far beyond Fracture and will see it using entertainment as the pillar to support an entirely new strategy communicating its values and outlook. Interestingly, TikTok (the video sharing social platform), is the space where luxury brands are beginning to tell authentic stories and push boundaries beyond the current norm, but Balmain push this form of video entertainment further.
Of course though, this is not just TV. Other marketing materials have been derived from it and will be used in a layered approach to drive visitors to Balmain’s ecommerce site and physical stores. Such as an Instagram account for Le Rêve Motel – the fictional motel from the series – where audiences can ‘book’ a room, listen to character voicemails and watch additional content.
Similarly Gucci launched ‘The Gucci Beloved Talk Show’ earlier this year, but rather marrying a talk show format instead (inspired by The Late Late Show with James Cordon). Gucci wanted to celebrate their most iconic bags with a campaign launched on Instagram that sees seven famous people – Harry Styles, Serena Williams and Sienna Miller to name a few – hosted by James Cordon. This additional example is another entertainment led social media launch that has worked brilliantly too.
Teflar : App Build & Shopping “Drips”
Teflar, the Brooklyn based genderless fashion label has launched ’Telfar TV’. The platform plans to randomly broadcast QR codes that takes viewers directly to a web link for them to purchase new merchandise. Think of it as a sort of Netflix for all things Teflar, viewable on a dedicated website and app, as well as on Apple TV and Roku.
The idea is to slowly “drip” product into the shopping sphere — selling to fans who are truly invested in the label — rather than “drop” a large amount of merchandise on Telfar’s site, where bots have been known to buy up hundreds of the label’s renowned shopping bag at a time. By forcing customers to watch Telfar TV and wait for QR codes to appear could theoretically make it even harder to game the system.
The app is a bold effort at community building, creating an intentionally separate digital zone far from social media. The platform is encouraging an interactive approach as it welcomes user-submitted content. Viewers who download the Telfar TV app and watch video footage from both the brand and the public – the channel is a creative hub for collaborators and fans. Anyone can upload their own videos featuring Telfar products through a QR code that, if selected, will appear on the channel (and the chance to win a Teflar bag).
Balenciaga: E-Gaming Collaborations
The worlds of luxury fashion and gaming have been getting more collaborative as people spend more of their time and money in virtual worlds. Louis Vuitton was a pioneer in establishing sponsorship ties with gaming a couple of years ago. But recently Balenciaga and Fortnite (the giant online video game with 400 million registered accounts) have teamed up to bring the physical and virtual worlds even closer together. This partnership between the luxury fashion house and Fornite is a first, but not surprising since globally, 2.7 billion people are gamers, according to an estimate by Accenture. (https://hybrid.co.id/amp/post/games-as-a-socializing-tool)
Both companies unveiled a collaboration including virtual clothes, accessories, and an immersive destination within Fortnite inspired by Balenciaga’s design, as well as a physical line of products that will go on sale at Balenciaga’s stores and e-commerce sites. The in-game clothing will include outfits for four of Fortnite’s popular characters (Doggo, Ramirez, Knight, and Banshee) inspired by real-world looks from recent Balenciaga collections. Unlike the real-life originals, a few of the digital clothes react in the game, changing colour in response to damage inflicted during battle for example.
Additionally (think OOH) in New York Times Square, real humans can find a Doggo billboard and travel up Madison Avenue to the Balenciaga store, where they’ll be able to shop a fully fleshed-out collection of Fortnite and Balenciaga products
For Balenciaga, a brand known for pushing boundaries under creative director Demna Gvasalia, the collaboration is a way to engage with audiences in the gaming world. The gaming audience has become a key part of modern society, especially in the midst of a global pandemic, games have become the bridge that connects friends and people alike around the world. This is not a pricey NFT and it’s not a secretive Bitcoin item or an exclusive augmented reality experience. Balenciaga’s Fortnite partnership puts the brand into the hands of millions of dedicated players with a relatively low barrier to entry.
Entertainment is Driving Luxury Marketing
Luxury fashion brands continue to lead innovation in the luxury space. Balmain, Teflar and Balenciaga are not the only brands transforming brand campaigns, but are great examples to show how luxury fashion brands are pushing boundaries in unique ways.
At VERB, we are here to support your brand strategy. If you are looking to disrupt the digital space in an authentic, meaningful and ownable way drop us a line here, we’d love to hear from you! Drop us a line here.