For accessory brands, content trumps product – WWD
PARIS – The excitement reached a crescendo with the return of the physical Parisian catwalks last week, but outside of the catwalks the accessories market has not been so quick to come back to life.
For accessory brands, which cannot take advantage of the popular catwalk format, there was less tendency to revert to the status quo and more willingness to rethink the way they do business.
More and more brands have chosen to no longer host Paris Fashion Week showrooms and have continued to digitally connect with the press and buyers. Contemporary labels in vogue like By Far and Manu Atelier; the Georgian shoe brand of the moment Mach & Mach; Malone Souliers, Delvaux and Paris Texas are just a few examples.
Continuing uncertainty and travel restrictions related to COVID-19 were the obvious reasons for their decision to stay digital, but designers also recognize that they would be better off spending their time and money elsewhere, especially on content.
In an oversaturated market where heritage names still dominate – shoppers are jumping into new accessories like Chloé, Givenchy, Loewe and Saint Laurent – with a compelling history, a constant flow of Instagram-worthy visuals and the right influencers carrying your shoes or bags in the street have a much higher return these days than a fancy presentation, a showroom at the Ritz Paris – or even a new seasonal product.
This is why a large majority of accessory labels remained focused on their basic forms and used their budgets to shoot campaigns which were then distributed wildly in the streets of Paris; to host events. or to interact with influencers and other influential creatives. It’s a better formula for success for attracting buyers, who watch street style and social media feeds for what’s hot or, in many cases, actively participate in the influencer scene themselves.
“Social media has established itself as one of the sources we turn to to determine which pieces will generate volume in the next cycle,” said Lisa Aiken, Neiman Marcus’ new fashion director.
Cassie Smart, Head of Women’s Clothing Accessories at Matchesfashion, echoed her thoughts, explaining that as important as a strong new collection is, “with that, you need inspiring creative content to generate that emotion. and this commitment “.
Libby Page, Market Editor at Net-a-porter, added that branded content and online communities help Net teams determine popular styles to buy and singled out Parisian shoe designer Amina Muaddi as a good example of someone using content for it. advantage.
Muaddi has never attended a fashion week or hosted a formal presentation, but instead keeps the momentum going with strong campaigns, limited-edition collaborations, and plenty of personalized content. During fashion weeks, she is her own ambassador and attends catwalks, from Prada to Loewe and Balenciaga, in runway looks and her own shoe designs, all cleverly documented on her social feeds.
After the lockdown, more prop gamers see the value of content and want to learn from Muaddi’s playbook.
Gherardo Felloni at Roger Vivier chose not to bring the Vivier hotel back and instead launched a film that told a story about the power of dreams. Other than the flashes of some sparkling new spring 2022 rigs, there was hardly any product to see – the focus was on Felloni’s message, the fantastic storyline, music, and the gripping performance of the guest star Isabelle Huppert.
“It’s important to respect the audience, who may not be 100% fashionable. You have to invite them to follow you and tell a story beyond the product, ”said Felloni.
In the contemporary space, brands that are strong on online content, engaged with the best online personalities in fashion, and able to create the kind of visuals that attract likes and shares are the ones that have managed to hold onto their relevance despite the backsliding of the market. upscale luxury and classic styles.
“Luxury heritage houses are at the heart of customer concerns right now, especially in handbags where identifiable branding and styles are incredibly desirable among a new luxury buyer. That said, there are a few ‘disruptors’, who have created a hype thanks to scarcity and social media over the past few seasons, which are rapidly gaining ground, ”said Aiken of Neiman.
“Everything we do is content. We are constantly shooting our own content and working with influencers in the broad sense of the term i.e. celebrities and other creatives. This was a major driver during the lockdown and the reason we were able to keep our sales strong, ”said Luisa Dames, founder of Berlin-based shoe brand Aeyde.
London-based Miista also said artist interviews and humorous videos the brand started producing during the lockdown resulted in increased direct sales. Suddenly, the company took the plunge, invested in its own factory and began producing its first ready-to-wear collections at the start of the year.
Manu Atelier, based in Istanbul, is another label that has remained active and very visible on his social networks: for spring 2022, he launched a campaign shot by Harley Weir which was broadcast across Paris and organized an intimate lunch. , with some of the elegant and elegant elements of the brand. well-followed friends, to highlight the new style of bag he plans to promote for the fall.
Wandler has also kept sales at a high level by putting more effort into giving customers a glimpse into its colorful world, ranging from the broadcast of its takeover of a former Amsterdam gas station during the week of the fashion of the city to its transformation into a light installation. , staging improvised street-style shoots during lockdown and demonstrating the designer’s flair for electric color and architectural design through artistic still life shoots.
“For me, the biggest role in trying to maintain our success is to stay sharp, fresh and renew ourselves at all times within the wandering Signature. As soon as you feel comfortable, it’s time to push the boundaries, ”Wandler said, adding that his team is turning up new content at least every two months and in e-commerce marketplaces it can be okay. up to four times a month.
It is clearly paying off. According to Page, “Wandler is all the rage on Net-a-porter for its classics at a good price,” while its high content and storytelling capabilities ensure it “lines up in the luxury market.”
Paris-based Nodaleto is another brand that has drawn customers, including the TikTok generation, hooked on its cool Mary Janes platform and square-toed pumps due to its ability to create striking content.
As Julia Toledano is constantly refining and renewing the product, co-founder Olivier Leone brings it to life with humorous and hip imagery from her Netflix parody “Nodflix”, spooky Halloween movies and illustrated campaigns with famous Japanese artist Harumi Yamaguchi.
“Generation Z is crazy about the brand and I think it’s because of our [approach to] content. From an image point of view, we think of the brand as walking into a museum, you wonder between pop art, something more timeless, and then a quirky new artist. This is how we play with our images and the new generation loves it when you create authentic content. Each time, it’s about how the marketing influences them. We strive to keep them entertained day in and day out, we respond to everyone’s message and that’s how we make strong bonds, ”said Leone, who runs a creative studio in conjunction with her work for Nodaleto and focuses solely on the creation of images. “Without design nothing would be possible, but now everything has to be aligned.”
For some brands, what makes their content, and ultimately their sales strong, are the broader messages of sustainability and inclusion they champion.
For Alfredo Piferi, former design director of Jimmy Choo, the fact that his brand has a story to tell around responsible drinking is a big part of its rapid success. Sales have grown by more than 130% in the past year, despite the slowdown caused by global lockdowns.
“I’m sure a big percentage of our success was the responsible and vegan aspect: people were ready and they were looking for it. If this was another brand of leather footwear, I probably would have gone further, but not that much or that fast. At the end of the day, we all love a good story and it’s an authentic story that comes from my heart and my genuine desire to change the perspective of the market, ”said Piferi.
Ditto for JiiJ, a new shoe name that has just launched in Paris and offers Mary Jane ankle boots and pumps made in apple leather and available in a wider range of sizes.
“Similar shoe styles may have been created before, but what people are buying is the story and this message of inclusion,” said founder Ieva Juskaite, who focused on storytelling from the start, by refusing major launch events. or even physical and wild showrooms by publishing its first futuristic campaign across Paris to create a buzz.
While many brands focus on exclusive, off-season styles and the right kind of content that makes them feel new and fresh, novelty is not completely dead.
There’s a simultaneous appetite for fun with more risky and kitschy accessories, whether it’s glittery heels, dangerously high platforms, or anything reminiscent of the 90s and early August – undoubtedly the result of the trending Y2K hashtag on TikTok. Some brands are happy to ride the wave, however fleeting it may be, with hologram leather bags in the case of By Far; platform mules in pink or metallic blue patent leather in the case of Paris Texas; and “Paris Hilton” satin baguette bags for the rising Italian brand Iindaco.
“Bold, bright and upbeat ready-to-wear garments have turned into accessories,” Page added.