//Has Fashion Adopted Digital in 2020?

Has Fashion Adopted Digital in 2020?

2020 has been a year of dramatic change for the fashion industry. A number of major players have announced the end of the traditional fashion calendar, from Gucci to YSL to Michael Kors. With many believing the traditional runway structure to be out of touch with the commercial side of fashion, the coronavirus pandemic may have been the disruption the industry was waiting for.

The pandemic has meant that IRL fashion shows have all but ended but bodies such as the British Fashion Council (BFC) and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) have moved their offerings online, allowing for a blend of physical and virtual fashion presentations, with interesting results.

On the other hand, fashion labels have had to adapt their sales strategies to maintain interest with a remote audience, while also walking the tightrope of restricting funding due to a fall in sales. This has had a significant impact on the digital marketing strategies of many businesses, including their social media presence and their use of influencers this year.

So who are 2020’s digital winners and who has found it hardest to compete in the new remote landscape of luxury?

Top 15 luxury brands google search volume (2020)

According to Luxe Digital, these 15 brands command the largest share of search volume worldwide so far in 2020. Gucci remains at the pinnacle, most likely thanks to their younger audience of digital-savvy buyers, but there is a range of luxury products on offer in this list. Tiffany & co, Rolex and Cartier are representing luxury jewellery, while Lancome in 15th place is the only brand exclusively marketing make up.

Gucci held onto the top spot and also noted no change in search interest between 2019 and 2020, suggesting their business plan was the most pandemic-proof, but there are a number of brands whose online presence significantly changed this year. Balenciaga and Dior saw a 200% increase in year-on-year search volume, while Louis Vuitton and Chanel saw a 50% increase. On the other hand, Hermes, Prada and Tiffany saw the biggest drop on the Luxe Digital ranking.

Number of posts made under lockdown (Since March 2020)

As is evident from the chart, the frequency of social media posts has little impact on the share of search volume, suggesting the digital presence isn’t everything for a brand and that routes to conversion are a much more important measure of effectiveness in the digital landscape.

Social media has seen generally higher engagement, thanks to the fact that so many of us have been using our phones more often rather than going out, but still brands have invested less in influencer marketing, which is having an adverse effect on many influencers around the world.

The pandemic’s effect on influencers

According to LoveUX, influencers may have lost up to 33% of their income between March and May. This is most likely due to restrictions in movement and hesitation from brands to invest money during an unstable economic landscape. LoveUX also notes that 66% of influencers posted less sponsored content during this period, which is consistent Y-O-Y but suggests that brand didn’t take advantage of a more captive audience during this time to drive higher engagement with their sponsored content.

The effectiveness of virtual fashion shows

The pandemic had an irreversible impact on in-person fashion shows. The traditional fashion calendar may soon be a thing of the past and fashion weeks across the world were staged online, with designers combining a range of media to create an immersive experience in the place of the FROW.

Searches for virtual fashion shows spiked in June, around the time of London Men’s Fashion Week, the first iteration to be presented online. However, other than that, their worldwide search interest for ‘virtual fashion show’ remains relatively unchanged, which could suggest that the novelty has quickly worn off.

The British Fashion Council found success with their virtual offering, though, making use of their digital platform to conveniently combine physical fashion presentations with e-commerce strategies that put viewers in closer contact with the designers they saw before them. Their online-only shows had 60,000 unique visitors and 159,000 overall visits during their first digital fashion offering in June.

Shoppable links between the looks shown and their designers drove 78% engagement. The closer connection between viewer and designer has allowed many designers to enjoy a more direct economic benefit from their shows, which has commonly been a lament of designers against fashion week. While many fashion leaders may not be willing to let go of the in-person experience just yet, there could be a strong business argument for continuing digital shows to allow a more open engagement with consumers in the future.

Congolese designer Anifa Mvuemba, the creative mind behind the label Hanifa enjoyed the newfound digital fashion presence more than most. Her innovative 3D-rendered Pink Label Congo collection gained significant social media and news coverage, appearing on Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, The Cut, New York Times and many more.

Her original Instagram posts of the ghostly dresses, which were created to appear to be walking on their own with no visible model, have been viewed over 354,000 times and each of the six individual looks have been viewed on her Instagram page around 100,000 times each.

Popular digital models

In addition to digital fashion presentations and virtual reality catwalks, the presence of digital models has been growing in recent years, with virtual personalities gaining significant followings and enjoying a number of mainstream successes. Whether that’s Lilmiquela, created by L.A based company Brud, who has a following of more than 2.7m on Instagram, Noonouri, a big-headed digital creation who has starred in promotional videos for Kim Kardashian’s beauty range or Shudu, who was notoriously used in a Balmain campaign several years ago.

These digital models and influencers are attractive as they are able to create the perfect presentation of a brand or product without the pesky fallacy of natural human behaviour. However, especially in the case of Miquela, it’s thanks to their uncanny presentation of humanity that interest in them is so high.

While these influencers have gained major followings and presence in the luxury market, their use is minimal and is likely to be no more than an experiment in how far digital technology can take us.

The future of digital fashion

The pandemic has demonstrated the innovative and creative nature of fashion designers, enabling many to explore new ways of presenting their art and create in difficult times. While digital marketing and virtual fashion shows have proven to be a useful outlet to maintain interest and connect closely with consumers,fashion and the luxury market will not be abandoning their IRL presentations and experiences just yet.

By |2020-10-09T10:17:14+00:00October 9th, 2020|Events|0 Comments