A Passion For Fashion With A Marketing Flair™

Fashion & Social Media Marketing

Bluefly.Com – An Amazing Fashion 2.0 Success Story

Founded in 1998, Bluefly, Inc. is a leading online retailer of designer brands, fashion trends and superior value.  The foremost online shopping destination features clothing and accessories from over 350 top European and American designers – all at amazing discounts.  Bluefly is “the ultimate hookup for the fashion obsessed.”

Under the leadership of chief marketing office Bradford Matson, Bluefly is increasing their brand value by engaging people in new forms of communication, collaboration, education and entertainment.  Matson understands fashion 2.0 and knows how to use it to attract new visitors to the Bluefly website.  Bluefly also knows how to engage those visitors and ultimately how to convert them into customers.

When I visited bluefly.com, among the first things that I noticed  were the variety of media  and social channels available to site visitors.   There were FLYPAPER and FLYTV.  Then as I scrolled down the page, there were invitations to watch Closet Confessions videos, to sign up for Bluefly emails and to play FLY or BYE?.  Near the bottom of the web page were Facebook and Twitter icons.  The things that I noticed on the website are tools of the “Bluefly marketing strategy, broken into three sectors: marketing programs, social media and offline.”

Bluefly website

“The company has also found success in television advertising on the Bravo network, an ideal vehicle for reaching its target ‘fashionista’ demographic,” Matson said, and in social media where it recently rolled out the Closet Confessions campaign.

“The goal is to drive new visitors to the site and increase the engagement of existing customers with videos,” said Bluefly chief marketing officer Bradford Matson. “People like Christian Siriano and Kelly Cutrone have become new-media celebrities. They have fans on Facebook and Twitter, they’re on reality TV; it’s a new world of style celebrities and we wanted to bring out their humanity.”  Bluefly ran online ads and video about the site on Condé Nast magazine sites including: Allure, Vogue, Lucky, W and Glamour; Glam’s network, WatchMojo.com and YouTube.

Blue Tube – Kelly Osbourne, posted with vodpod

Bluefly Closet Confessions - Kelly Osbourne

Bluefly also has a blog, a Twitter account and a Facebook page, not to mention prominent promotions with reality TV shows Project Runway and  America’s Next Top Model as well as the movie Sex and the City 2.

FLYPAPER - Blog

Bluefly Facebook page

Bluefly Twitter network

Bluefly Project Runway

“While one-third of Bluefly’s traffic comes from search and another third from e-mail, social media has been ‘very useful,’ said Matson. “It’s deepened our relationship to customers, increased spikes in traffic, and it catches the interest we create with off-line advertising.”

According to a recent article in Direct Marketing News, “Turning to social media is one way that Matson addresses the challenge of consumers who have snapped their wallets shut over the past few years, in the face of an increasingly painful recession and rising unemployment. In 2009, Bluefly’s revenues fell about 15% year over year to $81.2 million. It cut the marketing budget by about $6 million last year.”

“We stepped back and cut off offline advertising and spent our energies on learning about social and working with the marketing programs,” Matson said.

Bluefly was the first national retailer to use bar codes in its television commercials.  Last month, according to a New York Times article, “From the comfort of their sofas, mobile-phone users can scan a bar code embedded in commercials on certain evening shows on Bravo and instantly obtain additional information about a product and a discount to buy it.  The 45-second commercials by the online fashion retailer Bluefly show snippets of its Closet Confessions interviews with designers and celebrities like Bethenny Frankel, who appeared on The Real Housewives of New York City and the Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir … The commercials were seen on Top Chef, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, The Real Housewives of D.C., Flipping Out, Top Chef Just Desserts and The Rachel Zoe Project through the fall season.”

Screenshot of TV commercial with bar code

“When the cellphone is pointed at the on-screen bar code, the user is linked to a complete closet-baring episode, which can run as long as five minutes, and offered a $30 discount on a $150 purchase at bluefly.com”

Bluefly hopes that the ease and convenience of clicking on a bar code will encourage more viewers to learn about their website.  Online Closet Confessions fans, Mr. Matson said, have increased their shopping orders an average of 50 percent, from $300 to $450.  “We have added new style stars after the Web video series was so successful … We got a half-million page views the first month we launched it.  Closet Confessions, Mr. Matson said, “is custom-made for the fashion obsessed.”

Blue Tube – Christian Siriano, posted with vodpod

The Bluefly website is a delight to visit.  It is not just because of the great values offered on designer fashions.  Besides, there are numerous, discounted luxury brand websites on the Internet.   Bluefly leads the pack due to their creative CMO, Bradford Matson.  His integrated, multichannel marketing approach combines the fundamentals of a successful social media strategy with traditional marketing tactics.

Bluefly learned the basic rules of social media for business well by facilitating communication (i.e., email, Twitter, Facebook. iPhone app), collaboration (i.e., Facebook, FLY or BYE?Closet Confessions) , education (i.e., website, Twitter, Facebook) and entertainment (i.e., FLYTV, Closet Confessions) as engagement strategies to enable conversation and influence conversations.

FLY or BYE?

Bluefly iPhone app

In the end, it’s all about engagement.  Bluefly succeeded at collaborating with and entertaining their fan base.  They found their niche and used a blue ocean strategy that took them to the next level, well above the others that sell designer clothing at discount prices online.

“We all spent years trying to build this perfect mousetrap. We figured that you would just go there, but that’s never going to work,” Bluefly CMO, Bradford Matson says. “What we have to do is know enough about you, so when you land there we can show you paths of shopping to get to where you want. It’s a combination of personalization and customization.”


Louis Vuitton Leads Luxury Brands In Fashion 2.0

On Wednesday, October 6, the 156-year-old Parisian fashion brand, Louis Vuitton, will expand, even deeper, into the world of fashion 2.0 with their latest digital marketing activities.  Louis Vuitton will run its third live fashion show on Facebook in the last year.  The 7:30am ET show will feature the Spring/Summer 2011 Collection of designer Marc Jacobs.  It is scheduled to run for 10 to 15 minutes and will also be accessible on the Marc Jacobs iPhone and iPad apps.   The video presentation and additional footage will be available on Facebook a few hours later.

Louis Vuitton Facebook Page

Louis Vuitton - Facebook

During the last 16 months, Louis Vuitton has attracted 1.3 million Facebook LIKES and 145,000 Twitter followers (US and Paris). Those audiences, along with 26,400 Foursquare followers, will be leveraged to spread the word about the Facebook fashion show.

Louis Vuitton - Twitter

Louis Vuitton - Foursquare

The Art of Travel by Louis Vuitton, your official destination for everything Louis Vuitton, is the theme for an ongoing Facebook campaign used to promote the webcast.  After visitors sign up to be on the guest list for the live fashion show webcast, they will unlock the Louis Vuitton 360° Fashion Badge.  The badge will also appear on their Facebook profile.  Video footage will be uploaded to the Louis Vuitton YouTube channel, which has more than 679,000 views.

Louis Vuitton - YouTube

Currently the Louis Vuitton website features Bono and Ali Hewson, founders of Edun – a for-profit fashion company.   They take website visitors on a Journey To the Heart of Africa. The interactive, international e-commerce site describes the mission of  Edun – to raise awareness of the possibilities in Africa and encourage the fashion community to do business there.   To further celebrate the creative potential of Africa, Louis Vuitton is hosting a temporary exhibition from October 5-17, 2010 in Paris.

Annie Leibovitz photographed Bono and Ali for the Louis Vuitton ad – Every Journey Began In Africa.

Louis Vuitton - Website

The Louis Vuitton website stands out from competitors, gains attention and attracts traffic to the website.  It converts visitors into customers and transforms their past and present successes into dynamic, inviting forces of attraction.  The Louis Vuitton website differentiates itself from competitive luxury brands with engaging, interactive campaigns – The Art of Travel and Journey To the Heart of Africa.

Visualize the Louis Vuitton website as a presentation of fashion with a heart.  It is an awesome integrated marketing effort where e-commerce, fashion and Louis Vuitton core values merge.

Louis Vuitton marketing efforts take fashion 2.0 to the next level.


Fashion’s Night Out – A Fashion 2.0 Party

You may have noticed that the fashion landscape is all a twitter (no pun intended) about Fashion’s Night Out.  There are social media networks, videos, websites, television, print, an online community, etc. buzzing about Fashion’s Night Out.  Specifically, to coincide with Fashion’s Night Out, there is a CBS Special – “The Making of Fashion’s Night Out, Fashion’s Number One Fan Contest, Fashion’s Night Out: The Show at Lincoln Center with live webcast on CBS.com, charitable endeavors and the QVC-powered, Fashion’s Night Out website.

Fashion’s Night Out 2010 PSA, posted with vodpod

Fashion’s Night Out is really serious about digital media and integrated digital technology.  Their social media strategy incorporates a live webcast, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.  Through their social networks, fashionistas experience Fashion’s Night Out in a digital environment and find out everything they need to know to become part of fashion’s biggest night.  The integrated marketing strategy for Fashion’s Night Out partners with the city of New York, CBS, QVC, American Vogue, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and NYC & Company.

Visitors to the website are drawn in to the Fashion’s Night Out PSA video (see above) and a live countdown until the start of Fashion’s Night Out 2010.

Website - Fashion's Night Out home page

It all started last year as a way to revive the downbeat economy. Fashion’s Night Out is an initiative to celebrate fashion and boost the retail industry.   It was launched in 2009 by Vogue, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and NYC & Company.

Fashion’s Night Out begins on Friday, September 10. This year’s event kicks off with the largest public fashion show in New York City history at the new Lincoln Center, featuring approximately 200 models, and live webcast on September 7.

CBS will capture the months of intense planning and preparation, then cover the night itself as it unfolds across New York City, the country and the world.   The show will focus on individuals working in the fashion industry for whom the vibrancy of the fashion business is a question of economic survival.

Fashions Night Out Video – The Show – CBS.com, posted with vodpod

CBS Special

CBS takes viewers behind the scenes of the world’s largest celebration of fashion in a prime time special: FASHION’S NIGHT OUT 2010. The special airs Tuesday, September 14, 10-11pm ET/PT on the CBS Television Network. Top fashion icons, the industry’s most promising new talent and a host of other key players from film, music and modeling are among those to be featured in this prime time special.

CBS website - Fashion's Night Out

CBS website - Fashion's Night Out

Go behind the scenes with US Vogue Editor Anna Wintour as she discusses what’s hot for this fall with her editors and top retail executives from Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman.

Fashions Night Out – Trendsetters, posted with vodpod

The Fashion Show at Lincoln Center and Live Webcast

Everybody will have a front-row seat at the live, CBS.com webcast on September 7, beginning at 7pm/4pm PT.   André Leon Talley, Vogue editor-at-large, will be the webcast host for a spectacular night – Fashion’s Night Out: The Show.

Fashions Night Out Video – It’s A Party – CBS.com, posted with vodpod

Strategic Collaborations

City of New York, CBS, QVC, American Vogue, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and NYC & Company.

QVC website - Fashion's Night Out

Charitable Endeavors

A portion of Fashion’s Night Out: The Show ticket sales and proceeds from the sales of the clothing will be donated to the NYC AIDS Fund in the NY Community Trust.  Long and short-sleeve T-shirts, hoodies and tanks are available on the Fashion’s Night Out website.

American Express is sponsoring an exclusive, cardmember-only viewing event and designer discussion due to the sold-out success of Fashion’s Night Out: The Show.

The Fashion Show - Fashion's Night Out

Fashion’s Number One Fan Contest

Besides airing the Fashion’s Night Out special, CBS has launched a nationwide search to find the person worthy of being named Fashion’s Number One Fan. Prizes include: two round-trip airline tickets to New York City; a five-night stay for two at the Mandarin Oriental, New York; two tickets to Fashion’s Night Out: The Show at Lincoln Center on September 7; two tickets to American Idiot on Broadway; a $500 Macy’s electronic gift card, plus an appointment with a Macy’s By Appointment Personal Shopper and more.  The winner will be selected by a panel of experts from CBS, Vogue, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and NYC & Company.

CBS.com website - Fashion's Night Out #1 Fan Contest

The fashion community definitely knows how to throw a party and Fashion’s Night Out is no exception.  Important Fashion 2.0 strategies are to get the buzz going and engage participation.  Social media marketing tactics help to build outposts for interaction across the Internet where passionate Fashion’s Night Out constituencies gather and self-organize.

Facebook - Fashion's Night Out

Facebook - Fashion's Night Out

Promoting the premium content to visitors from Fashion’s Night Out social media channels through free content, video, micro-blogging, blogging, social media and promotion helps to meet Fashion 2.0 objectives.  The goal is to create a buzz, build relationships and show effect wherever the Fashion’s Night Out presence exists.   The buzz, support and leads will ultimately follow.

Twitter - Fashion's Night Out

The excitement surrounding Fashion’s Night Out is producing amazing results, sooner rather than later.  For example tickets to Fashion’s Night Out: The Show on September 7 are sold out.  There are more than 21,000 followers on Twitter, over 36,000 Facebook fans and a worldwide initiative that is sure to spark retail sales as well as the economy.

Fashion 2.0 is the engine driving the train for this spectacular extravaganza – Fashion’s Night Out.  Climb aboard and join the party!


Fashion 2.0 And The Plus-Size Fashion Revolution

For the first time, New York Fall Fashion Week will include a plus-size only, runway show.  OneStopPlus.com, the premiere online high-fashion destination for curvy, voluptuous women, will produce the show that is set for September 15, 2010 at The Atrium in Frederick P. Rose Hall (home of Jazz at Lincoln Center).  The curvy, Belle Épogue-themed catwalk will reportedly feature plus-size models like Lizzie Miller and Toccara Jones in Spring 2011 collections.  OneStopPlus brand evangelist Emme will also be on hand to host the red carpet.  Brands to be featured will include the best in American and European plus-size designs.

A plus-size runway show coinciding with the high-fashion shows for NYC Fashion Week at Lincoln Center is major.   As a result, I was curious about what the plus-size fashion niche is doing to join the online conversation and fashion 2.0 explosion.  When I Googled “plus-size fashion websites,” I was amazed to find 7.1 million results.

There are many more plus-size fashion websites, blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter networks and online communities than I can write about in this post.  The following are a sampling of the ones that stood out because of their engaging fashion 2.0 marketing tactics:

OneStopPlus.com

(Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, online community)

OSP Website

Positioned as “Your Online Fashion Mall for Sizes 12W to 44W, ”  OSP (OneStopPlus.com) is more than just an e-commerce website.  It is an online community for curvy women.  There is the OSP Shopper’s Club, OSPMag, Facebook page, YouTube Channel and Twitter network.  The entire OSP online community is easily accessible from the website.  Visitors are invited to share and enjoy their OSP experience.

OSP - Twitter

Lane Bryant

(Website, Facebook, Twitter, online community, mobile marketing)

The plus-size market giant, joins the fashion 2.0 arena with Inside Curve.  The web community invites plus-size women to join  Inside Curve – a trilogy for girlfriends of fashion, fun, and friends. It is a new community where trendsetting, plus-size women hang out to celebrate all things fashionable – including themselves!

Lane Bryant embraces fashion 2.0 for most of their online brands with Facebook and Twitter. In addition, Lane Bryant Internet shoppers can get coupons sent directly to their cellphones  as well as be the first to hear about new fashion arrivals and special store events in their area with MSG ME – Lane Bryant’s text messaging program.

Lane Bryant - Facebook

Igigi

(Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube)

Igigi website

Igigi (pronounced ee zhee zhee) began in 2000.  Plus-size women used to be relegated to wearing caftan-like dresses.  Well, no more!  Igigi is a plus-size clothing retailer that offers dresses for plus-size women in sizes 14 to 32. You will not find any caftan type dresses at Igigi. Their dresses cling to all the right curves and are cut to accentuate the positive.

Igigi does carry other items like tops and pants since their niche is definitely dresses (including bridal). Their clothing are comfortable, flattering and fashionable.  Plus-size woman visit the Igigi site because it has one of the best online selections of dresses for work, play and special occasions.

Size Appeal

(Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube)

Clothes should enhance and not inhibit curvy women. Size Appeal breaks the stereotype of traditional plus-size clothing, like the boxy styles that make women look bigger and older.   Instead, Size Appeal follows the curve in body and style.   They strive to achieve the perfect cut and style every time.

Size Appeal - YouTube

Plus-Size Fashion  Moving To Luxury Brands

There is definitely a market for large, lovely women worldwide. Smart designers, retailers and marketers recognize that there is a void to fill.  According to a 2008 survey conducted by Mintel, a marketing research firm, the most frequently worn size in America is a 14.  Furthermore, government statistics show that 64%  of American women are overweight (the average woman weighs 164.7 pounds).   More than one-third are obese. Yet plus-size clothing (typically size 14 and above) represents only 18% of total revenue in the women’s clothing industry. In addition,  a quarter of women are size 18 or bigger – up 45% in five years.   The Mintel Study also shows that the UK market for plus-size clothing has never been bigger, with 45%  growth in the plus-size, women’s wear market over the past five years.

Reflecting the trend, top designers are producing collections for bigger women.   Marc Jacobs is rumored to be entering plus-size fashions.   The Marc Jacobs fashion house is in talks about producing a range in size 14 and up.  Designer Mark Fast made waves when he sent size 12 and 14 models down his catwalk during London Fashion Week and size 16 model Crystal Renn, who has a huge effect in the industry.

Saks Fifth Avenue in NYC will soon add plus-sized garments to its high-end, designer department. While clothes from most luxury labels were previously sold only up to a size 10, size 14 will hit the racks from Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Toula, Akris, Armani, Carolina Herrera, Escada, Donna Karan, St. John, Oscar de la Renta, Max Mara, Valentino, Michael Kors, Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Fendi and Roberto Cavalli.   Some pieces will be available in sizes 16 to 20.  Saks will stock everything from pantsuits to evening wear.  However, there is a catch.   For most items, you’ll find only one of each size.  In addition, if the initiative is successful in Manhattan,  then Saks will stock the plus-size clothes in stores around the country.

Last summer, Target began carrying a line called Pure Energy that translated young, trendy clothes to larger sizes, adding to its more mature plus-size offerings.  “We definitely view this category as a growth opportunity,” said Target spokeswoman, Katie Heinze. After testing Pure Energy in some stores, Target decided to carry it in all 1,740 outlets.  Elie Tahari, the high-end designer, began selling a plus-size line this year and at Full-Figured Fashion Week, more than 25 other designers showed their plus-size clothes to an audience of retail buyers and plus-size women.

The plus-size fashion revolution is here and plus-size fashion 2.0 is in full force.  More brands are adding plus-sizes, curvaceous models are walking the Fashion Week runway and fashion websites, blogs and social networks are embracing plus-sizes.  It appears the fashion industry is finally recognizing the opportunities that exist in a market segment that was not considered very glamorous.  The changing demographics are making a big difference, no pun intended!


Fashion 2.0 Stylists

The fashion media landscape is buzzing about The Rachel Zoe Project and über celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe. What’s a girl to do if she is not a celeb and wants her own, personal stylist?

Well there’s an app for that! Earlier this year in their March issue, Vogue launched Vogue Stylist, an iPhone app to assist users in styling their wardrobes by uploading pictures of items they already own and allowing the app to mix and match those pieces with timely monthly picks from the Vogue staff along with products from Vogue‘s advertisers.  Content is updated monthly and synchronizes as issues release on newsstands.

Here’s a video that shows how the Vogue Stylist works on your iPhone.

Vogue Stylist users can shop any of the looks straight from their phones or locate the closest store that sells the items, as well as share favorite styles via Facebook.   In addition they can unlock exclusive content from the current issue by taking an iPhone picture of select ads which will result in special event invitations, product sampling offers, shopping discounts and exclusive videos.

Vogue Stylist iPhone App

Not only is this an awesome app for consumers, but it also adds value for advertisers and extends their reach.  According to Vogue VP and Publisher Susan Plagemann, “This new app is a perfect example of how Vogue provides advertisers the opportunity to maximize their connection to our reader with an interesting and organic approach.  It gives users a personalized interactive experience that allows them to apply Vogue‘s point of view on the trends to their wardrobes on a daily basis.”

CLICK HERE to learn how to get the Vogue Stylist app for your iPhone.

Another fashion/tech fusion is Harper’s Bazaar Personal Stylists,  an online personal style resource.  At the website you can shop Harper’s Bazaar stylists’ favorite finds, access special offers and giveaways, download exclusive shopping maps and book private New York City shopping trips. All are customized based on your individual needs, taste and budget. In addition, they include insider experiences, offers and gifts.

Harper's Bazaar Personal Stylists Website

CLICK HERE to check out Harper’s Bazaar Personal Stylists

Fashionistas … you will be on top of the latest fashion trends and know exactly where to buy them with these awesome, interactive fashion tools.   In the words of Coco Chanel, “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.”  These amazing innovations will help you to get there.


Fashion 2.0 Thought Leaders – Fashion’s Collective

This week 4Fashionistas recognizes Fashion’s Collective as our next social fashion thought leader and its founder/strategist – Elizabeth Schofield as well as digital strategists Tamar Shamir Koifman and Agata Seidel.  Fashion’s Collective is a resource in digital and social media marketing for fashion and luxury brands.

One of my favorite places online for fashion 2.0 vision is Fashion’s Collective.  Visiting the website is like taking a tour of a museum where knowledgeable curators guide you through the collection of brand profiles and fashion 2.0-related articles.  Everywhere visitors to the site can easily navigate the various sections and also share their findings with friends on Twitter and Facebook.

Website - Brand Profiles

I especially enjoyed the Fashion’s Collective, three-part series (The Facebook Dilemma) about Facebook marketing for luxury brands.  Part I discusses whether to use Facebook or not because the audience interacting with a luxury brand does not always align with the brand’s target demographic.   Part II is about being strategic in finding your brand voice, how should the brand interact and determining what is the  actual audience the luxury brand reaches on Facebook.   Part III, the last in the series,  takes luxury brands into thinking long-term and to always have an exit plan.   In addition, Part III in the series encourages luxury brands to decide if  they have the resources in personnel and budget to maintain a social media campaign on Facebook.

Website

The Facebook Dilemma series provides an astute analysis of how luxury brands can strategically approach Facebook and decide if it is a good fit for them.   What I particularly like about Fashion’s Collective is that the marketing insights are also transferable to other industries and disciplines giving social media marketing a try.

Check out the Fashion’s Collective website and CLICK HERE.


Talbots Makeover – You’ve Come A Long Way Baby!

Talbots is not you’re grandmother’s store any more.  This savvy retailer is boldly moving their 63 year-old company ahead on the fashion 2.0 landscape with an updated, e-commerce website, engaging Facebook page and Twitter account.   In addition, Talbots Inc. is now a favorite on Wall Street, thanks to cost cuts and a complex financial arrangement for unloading its enormous debt.

Photo: Talbots

The Company
“The Talbots, Inc. is a multichannel retailer of women’s apparel, shoes and accessories known for modern classic style. Its signature Talbots brand serves a broad diversity of women within the fast-growing 35+ population through an extensive range of styles and sizes. It operates seamlessly across three sales channels – stores, catalog and Internet.”

The Brand
“Talbots is a leading specialty retailer and direct marketer of women’s classic clothing, shoes and accessories. Established in 1947, the company is known for legacy items like the perfect blazer, trustworthy trench, versatile white shirt, ballet flats and pearls, as well as its fine workmanship, gracious service and welcoming red doors. With a nod to tradition infused with modern flair, Talbots offers an array of timeless wardrobe options to flatter women of all shapes and sizes. The Company currently operates stores in 580 locations in 46 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada. Its online shopping site is located at www.talbots.com.”

Photo: Talbots

To solidify its comeback and boost sales, Talbots must complete a merchandise and image makeover that targets younger customers. Rejuvenating a brand that many women think of as perfect for their grandmothers is complicated.  Talbots must make its clothes more youthful without alienating its core customers during the transition as well as persuade a new segment of women in their 30s and 40s to consider shopping there.

Trudy Sullivan, Talbots chief executive, is attempting to refocus on women 35 and older.    She joined the company Fall 2007 and has introduced some younger items, including slim jackets and feminine dresses.  With Sullivan’s help, Talbots is aiming to make their fashions more hip with looks that include a sequin-trimmed sweater and leopard-print-lined black booties. So far, they have had some hits and some misses. For example, last spring, “ethnic” prints in bright colors including orange and lime green did not work for them.  But this fall, a “pant fit initiative” gives customers a $5 gift card for trying on a pair from the new pants styles. The retailer sold 590,000 pairs in nine weeks. In addition,  First Lady Michelle Obama has been spotted numerous times in Talbots clothing.

Dress by Talbots

Judging by the comments to a WSJ article this year in April about the  Talbots image makeover, some of the core customers are not happy with the changes.  Fortunately there were also those that embraced the change, “Classic can mean timeless, not just dowdy and that, I think, is what Talbots is trying to do.”   It’s a catch-22 situation.  “Talbots not only needs to get its core customer spending more, it also needs to get a new customer,” said Roxanne Meyer, executive director of specialty retail at UBS Investment Research.  Only time will tell.

Another effort to refresh their image is making Linda Evangelista the new face of Talbots.   The 44-year-old supermodel and mother was photographed by top photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott for a glossy advertising campaign which will be launched in September.  According to Talbots chief marketing officer, Lori Wagner, “She possesses this timeless yet spontaneous glamour that’s irresistible in our minds.”

It is obvious that social media is an important tactic in Talbots marketing strategy to reposition the brand. There are 4 key steps to success in social media marketing: LISTEN, SEGMENT & TARGET, INTERACT and NOTIFY & SCORE that Talbot incorporated on the way to re-branding.  The following are examples of how they did it:

LISTEN
Talbot listened and aimed to attract younger customers.   According to Kate Goodman, director of e-commerce at Talbots, “Customers are encouraged to share their insights, advice, wisdom, and humor. This platform (“Pearls of Wisdom”) allows our customers to speak freely to us about who they are and what Talbots means to them … This allows us to create a broader, more relevant community by encouraging customers to share emotional experiences — within Talbots.com instead of some third-party site.”

Talbots website

SEGMENT & TARGET
Talbots refocused on women 35 and older, persuading a new segment of women in their 30’s and 40’s to consider shopping there and making their clothes more youthful without alienating their core customers during the transition.

INTERACT

The Talbot website has an engaging, interactive section, “Pearls of Wisdom,” that is powered by the Bazaarvoice social commerce platform.   According to the company, “Pearls of Wisdom: Your Voice” provides Talbots customers with a place to share their stories, opinions, and style.  They are encouraged to address topics close to their hearts, including summer reading lists, embarrassing moments with moms and their absolute worst Valentine’s Day gifts. Topics are promoted by email and Facebook.    Top stories and writers are highlighted on Talbots Facebook fan page.

Talbots Facebook fan page

On the Talbots Facebook page, there is also an interactive Look Book, link to an article in  WWD about Talbots, exclusive offers for fans and a link to find a store near you.

Talbots Look Book on Facebook fan page

NOTIFY & SCORE
The “pant fit initiative” gives customers a $5 gift card for trying on a pair from the new pants styles. The retailer sold 590,000 pairs in nine weeks.  Promoting “Pearl of Wisdom” topics by email, tweets promote what is going on at Talbots and an opportunity to sign-up for email notification about special offers are other ways that Talbots is using social media marketing.

Talbots on Twitter

Talbots was known as the label for suburban moms.  Now, with the repositioning, “Talbots blends equal parts tradition and imagination to surprise and delight with timeless apparel and innovative experiences that women crave.”  I love the new look and their fashion 2.0 achievements.  Creating “Pearls of Wisdom” and promoting it through email and on Facebook is definitely an innovative tactic.

However, Talbots still has work to do. For example, why not include the Facebook and Twitter icons on the website as well as add a YouTube channel featuring runway videos?  These minor adjustments will expand their reach even further among younger women and ultimately take Talbots to the next level of fashion and retail success.

Talbots.com website home page


How To Be A Fashion 2.0 Diva In 6 Easy Steps

The fashion industry is among the last to grasp and embrace web 2.0 – the social web.   Content push, user-created material and connecting people are key elements of web 2.0.   To push content, web 2.0 marketers use blogs, podcasts, webinars and RSS.  Components of user-created material are the forum, wiki, video and user review. Connecting people is the final web 2.0 tool.  This part involves the social network, community, the virtual world and collaboration.

Fashion 2.0 is about the adaptation of web 2.0 tools into the fashion world.  So … where do you begin?  The following are 6 steps that will get you started:

  1. LISTEN

  2. RESEARCH

  3. TARGET

  4. ENGAGE

  5. SHARE

  6. ANALYZE

Keep in mind:

  • Web sites should be usable, useful and desirable

  • Relationships are built on interactions

  • Work towards creating a positive experience

And … voilà,  you’re on your way to becoming an amazing Fashion 2.0 marketing maven!


Fashion 2.0 Thought Leaders: Gilt Groupe

This week 4Fashionistas recognizes viral marketing phenomenon, Gilt Groupe  as our next social fashion thought leader and its founders (Kevin P. Ryan, Alexis Mayback and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson).

An idea for selling discounted luxury brands online was sparked when Kevin P. Ryan, former CEO of the online ad company DoubleClick, observed a long line of women waiting to get into a Marc Jacobs sample sale in NYC. It was his Aha! moment. Ryan was aware of Vente Privée, the very successful French company selling fashion overstock online and believed that the Vente Privée business model could work just as well in America. According to Ryan, “All I could think was, if there are 200 people who are willing to stand in this line, that means in the United States there are probably hundreds of thousands,” Ryan says. “But they don’t live in New York, they’re busy right now, they just can’t do that. And I can bring this sample sale to them.”

Ryan hired two computer engineers to start building a website and Alexis Maybank as the company’s chief operating officer.  A few months later, Maybank brought in her longtime friend and Harvard B-School chum, Alexandra Wilkis Wilson to leverage her luxury fashion contacts and experience for the company.  Then in November 2007, Gilt Groupe was formed.  What Gilt Groupe does is called a “flash sale” – a virtual version of a designer sample sale.  It seldom advertises.  Instead Gilt Groupe relies on word-of-mouth; offering current members incentives to invite their friends to join.  “What Gilt did, I think it’s a combination of vision and smarts and timing,” says Steven Kolb, executive director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, which has been working in partnership with Gilt Groupe, acting as a bridge between the company and designers.

Gilt Groupe takes the fashion merchandising business model to the next level integrating e-commerce, WOMM and SMM … voilà Fashion 2.0!  It blends social media into the marketing plan with a blog on the website, email, Linkedin, YouTube, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, etc. that transforms data into actions to engage, amplify awareness and generate leads.  Cloud computing, a general term for anything that involves delivering hosted services over the Internet, is the technology behind the Gilt Groupe website.

Gilt Groupe is part of the AlleyCorp network, a network of affiliated companies founded by Kevin Ryan and Dwight Merriman.  It is the leading source for today’s top designer brands for women, men, children and luxury living …  insider prices at up to 70% off retail.

The Guild Groupe vision: “Lead the world to a life more beautiful.”  And, what a beautiful life it is with discounted designer brands, 70% off retail, at a click of the mouse.


Fashion 2.0 Thought Leaders: Daria Shualy

This week 4Fashionistas recognizes Daria Shualy as our Fashion 2.0 Thought Leader of the week.  Daria is a “devoted fashionista, thrift shopping addict, web entrepreneur and blogger for HuffPost Style.”

As founder of Sense of Fashion – an online networking community to shop and blog for independent fashion, Daria is out to revolutionize fashion on the web. She’s been a creative director for TV, print and web.  In addition, Daria has made clothes.  She loves snowboarding and classic literature … and likes Lucy from Peanuts.  According to Daria, “She doesn’t want any downs, she wants just ups and ups and ups.”

You can contact Daria Shualy on Sense of Fashionwww.senseofashion.com/daria, on Twitter – twitter.com/darshu and LinkedIn.

The following is an excerpt from one of Daria’s blog post in HuffPost Style:

Daria Shualy: RIP Alexander the Great | February 11, 2010

“I can’t tell you anything about McQueen you don’t already know or can’t read for yourselves. As a lover of indie fashion, I’m usually not that much into high fashion. I love a good runway show as much as the next person, but for the most part it’s people’s personal style and new young talents which fascinate me the most.

Having said that, the thing I do love about high fashion is the extent to which it is art. And in this aspect, for me, no one was more of an artist than Alexander McQueen (Lee McQueen).

And if I had to choose what kind of artist he was, I’d have to say an architect or a painter. And not just any architect or painter – but a ground breaking brilliant one.”

CLICK HERE to read the entire article and Daria’s innovative approach to the subject matter.


Berlin Fashion Week And Fashion Week In General

Berlin Fashion Week is until Saturday, July 10th.  An article caught my attention in the Life & Style section of the WSJ yesterday about Berlin Fashion Week.   After reading it, I was curious about how FASHION WEEK- the impresario of all fashion – uses social media marketing.

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I Googled Fashion Week and at the top of the list I found Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week » New York » Fall 2010 » Home.   From the web site , I clicked The Daily and voilà … everything that I needed appeared when The Daily Front Row web site opened.  BTW, on the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week web site, there was a link to their Facebook page.

According to Brandusa Niro, Editor in Chief at The Daily,  “This is where fashion happens, 24/7, 365 days of the year … every week is Fashion Week!”  Not only did The Daily Front Row offer seven RSS feeds for its main sections, there were also Twitter, Facebook and YouTube icons positioned above the fold on every page of the web site.  The Twitter Report rocks!

The company behind the awesome FASHION WEEK events is IMG - connecting brands to global opportunities in sports, entertainment and media.  IMG partners with leading designers and marketers to reach fashion-centric consumers.  With their global network of media partners, IMG also gives audiences worldwide front-row seats to the world’s hottest fashion events through online and on-demand live streaming video.

I must say that Fashion 2.0 is definitely a part of the marketing mix for FASHION WEEK.  However, I’d like to see more creativity on the social fashion channels.  For example, using customized Facebook pages will help welcome and engage customers.  I expect more creativity from the fashion industry.  After all … isn’t CREATIVITY fashion’s raison d’être?


Building An E-Commerce Fashion Business

A recent article in The Business of Fashion (BOF) provided a case study about how Company of We built a strong online sales channel.   CLICK HERE to view that article.  Their web site, Facebook page and Twitter account take Company of We to the next level of Fashion 2.0 ferocity.

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4Fashionistas is about social media marketing in the fashion industry. The following are tips to move your online, fashion business ahead on the road to becoming fierce in Fashion 2.0:

7 Tips To Becoming Fierce In Fashion 2.0

1. A Consistent Online Brand Identity

Customize your Facebook page, Twitter background, YouTube channel, e-mail messages, etc. to be consistent with the look and feel of your web site.  It will strengthen and enhance your brand message.

2. Engage

Be imaginative, ask questions, monitor conversations and then respond promptly.  You can be the first to answer your own question to get things moving.   As people become interested in the discussion,  everyone will want to give their opinion.

3. Share

Remember social media is not about tooting your own horn. You have to give to get. You cannot provide something of value to others if your top priority is selling more of your product. Approach your online consumers with the attitude that you have something of value to provide, free of charge (i.e., newsletter, whitepaper, promotion). In exchange for that, you hope to build and strengthen relationships. Over time, those relationships, will equal a much higher return on investment than one-time customers.   Finally, offer advice as well as ask questions.

4. Interact

It is very simple to answer questions from customers, potential customers and those that haven’t yet become potential customers. When you respond to questions, you are providing many people with instant gratification. When people interact, they discuss matters that are important to them and topics of interest to them. Many times that includes speaking about products and services that are on the market … including yours.

5. Be Human

Personalize your conversations with people and improvise based on where the conversation takes you.  Speak in the language that people understand.   Sincerely flatter your subscribers, friends and those that leave a comment by responding to them.  This nurtures your growing community.  Actively reach out to people you admire using social media and pay them a compliment by commenting on their blogs, following their tweets, linking to their content, etc.

6. Listen

Listen for and respond to both positive and negative comments.  This multiplies the good vibes around your brand.  Pay attention to what your competitors are doing, which trends are important to follow, which new products and services might help you in your business, what is going on with pricing and of utmost importance … what people are saying about you and your business.  Then talk about what people want to hear.

7. Measure

Each social media community has different types of measurements.  Decide which ones best help you define your success or failure.


New Focus For This Blog – Fashion 2.0

Since I am no longer a Carlisle Consultant, the focus for this blog will change … slightly.  FASHION will remain the primary direction.  However, the Carlisle and Per Se Collections will not be previewed here anymore.  Instead I will talk about how FASHION uses social media marketing and the Internet to get their message across.

My Tweets and Facebook comments that are fashion-related will be included here.  There will be information about FASHION thought leaders that are doing awesome things in the digital world. In addition, I will ask you to share your best 4Fashionistas comments and perhaps become one of my guest bloggers.

I’m developing a new look for this blog … so look out 4Fashionistas and stay tuned!   The best is yet to come :-)


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