If smart garments, environmentally reactive dresses and digital skins sound like a far-fetched future of fashion to some, technology’s role for the changing face of the industry today is undeniable. From the rise (and rise) of fashion bloggers, to decoding data for better customer experiences and the democratization of the catwalks, we looked at the way technology has already impacted fashion.
The panel, chaired by INTERLACED’s Kristina Dimitrova, included Villy Devlioti (Account Manager, CULT LDN), Anton Dvorakovsky (Founder & Editor, Style Division), and Ivailo Jordanov (Founder & Head of Product, Styloko).
The panel kicked off discussing the role of style bloggers in the fashion world. While years ago fashion weeks were only accessible for the selected few media and industry buyers, now an influx of bloggers are taking the front row seats, opening the catwalks for their readers and even becoming brands in their own right. On the other hand, the fashion blogging field has become so saturated that some have declared it dying.
“I remember when the first blogging wave started 10 years ago, with Style Rockie – the 11-year old, who suddenly opened all the doors around the globe to join highly exclusively fashion shows,” said Villy Devlioti, explaining that this whole digital wave has brought democratisation to the fashion world. She also referred to Burberry’s use of Periscope as an example of how brands are actively choosing to open their shows to the world. “It’s not only about keeping exclusivity but also broadcasting to your niche and opening up to new demographics. I think we’re going to see both fashion bloggers and brands diversify in terms of channel usage.“
Our blogger on the panel, Anton Dvorakovsky from Style Division, touched upon the skill of great bloggers to make their readers interested in new topics. “It’s quite powerful if you use your blog not only to say what you’re wearing every day, but rather as a place to input your thoughts about your passions. Technology has made it so much easier to connect with others. We can also use our blogs as platforms to make a new subject more digestible and interesting. Take for example wearable tech. I think bloggers interested in that can make the topic more relatable and exciting to their readers who might not necessarily follow or understand it.”
It’s not only about keeping exclusivity but also broadcasting to your niche and opening up to new demographics.
For retailers working with bloggers is still tricky, said Ivailo Jordanov.”I think there’s a certain level of fatigue because the blogging industry is so saturated. For retailers is still hard to measure engagement and results, even though working with bloggers nowadays is more expensive than buying TV advertising,” said Jordanov, referring to the fact that while some blogs may have built large followings, these followers have become disengaged over time. Styloko’s Head of Product also questioned the authenticity of the very well-known bloggers – “A lot of the successful bloggers we hear about are very commercial. If, when you came across them while they were small and trusted them for their opinion, as they’ve gotten bigger their ‘opinion’ is that of the highest bidder.” While he doesn’t believe blogging is dying, Ivailo thinks there’s definitely going to be “cleaning up and consolidation going on.”
And while some of the most famous fashion bloggers are reaching celebrity status, we have seen models and fashion A-listers turning to blogging, vlogging and overall embracing every social media channel. So much so, that many brands today are turning to models with hundreds and thousands of Instagram followers to front their campaigns, as opposed to seeking a new and interesting fresh face.
Villy Devlioti said the perfect match is someone who is interesting for the brand’s audience and boasts a good social media following. “Kylie Jenner or Karlie Kloss may have a huge social media following but are we sure they’re the perfect face for who we cater for?” asked Devlioti. “We are now transitioning from the area of amplification to microamplification where we need to be talking to a specific niche audience that resonates with out brand message. Of course, the higher the reach, the more successful the campaign. But we also have to track other KPIs to see if the campaign achieved its goals.”
As the discussion progressed, the panel discussed if the democratisation of fashion, and especially fashion shows – makes it boring. Touching on livestreaming as a new communication tactic that brands are exploring Villy said it is still a relatively new and untapped field. “I feel that many brands lean towards livestreaming more out of curiosity without necessarily having a clear strategic plan. It’s still most out of fear about not being first,” said Devliotti. Still, she reminded the audience that even though livestreaming opens up the excusive catwalk shows, “most livestreaming platforms are based on ephemerality, which means that you can watch what’s happening right now but it won’t be there after a day. And this preserves the exclusivity factor.”
We are now transitioning from the area of amplification to microamplification where we need to be talking to a specific niche audience that resonates with out brand message.
“Things like this really bring people into that experience. It’s a much better way of storytelling,” agreed Anton. “Polished campaign videos don’t have that personal touch which you can get with live streaming and platforms like Snapchat, which a lot of brands are trying to get right at the moment,” he continued, saying that virtual reality (VR) is the next tool brands will be utilising to bring consumers closer.
Customer experience doesn’t only mean getting a taste of the catwalk. Making the experience of something much more mundane – such as online shopping – seamless and stress-free is just as important for brands as getting people immersed in their runway shows. One ways of doing this is simplifying the customer choice by recommending products they’re interested in. “We track everything the user interacts with on the site and try to create a fashion fingerprint of the customer to help us understand what they like and what they don’t. The products they look at, the products they click on, the products they spend more time looking at,” explained Ivailo Jordanov. “We then take the data points around those products – colour, pattern, price range within its category, etc. – and apply an algorithm to say this is what this user’s shopping experience looks like. Since we’ve started personalizing the experiences we’ve seen a huge increase in conversion. We do this because with so many products you can’t expect someone to look at everything. We have to understand what are the ten products that we can show the customer with the highest chance of them of buying one of those.”
The panel agreed that user data, when used in the right way, can result in positive experience for both the brand and the customer. “Social media and digital media are the new prime time. When we talk about prime time in the glorious TV era, we could only trace key demographic indexes, such as age, how many viewers tuned in, etc. Now we know not only the age of the people interacting with us, but we also know their behaviour, we can talk to them in a specific way. And that’s okay,” said Villy.
“People are willingly giving this information away,” reminded Anton. “What is a search? When you type in something you’re showing interest, you’re showing intent in the thing you’re searching for.”
For more from INTERLACED 2015, check our video playlist here.