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The Digital Evolution of Luxury Fashion Houses

Julia Cohen

As the digital evolution of heritage labels becomes more of a focus, we deep dive into exactly how they are reinvigorating their reach and customer base.

Almost every industry has been shaped by the digital age in some way. From new methods of advertising to new opportunities to reach untapped markets, brands are cashing in on the opportunities they have. Arguably, the luxury industry has been a little slower to embrace a complete overhaul of operations in favor of digital transformation, instead slowly dipping their toes in the water as time has passed. However, it’s safe to say that they are becoming completely submerged, as heritage brands have had to reconsider both their design and communications strategies, to cater to the increasingly savvy 21st-century consumer.

Let’s take a look at some examples of the digital evolution of luxury fashion houses, in action

Burberry

The famed British fashion house, Burberry, has been in the midst of an ongoing rebranding initiative following the appointment of Riccardo Tisci as Chief Creative OfficerThe company has seen a complete digital strategy overhaul, with fresh ideas like the monthly Burberry B-Series, where shoppers can buy one-off pieces, strictly via social media, over the space of 24 hours only. This idea strikes a balance between luxury and digital well, allowing their pieces to remain exclusive and firmly in the luxury space, whilst also appealing to a larger audience through an online social medium. 

One of the first projects Tisci spearheaded was the release of the newly redesigned Burberry logo, which appealed to a more varied audience consisting of their traditional market as well as Millennials and Generation Z. Accompanying this was the presentation of his first collection with the brand in September, where they racked up an impressive $8.4M in MIV®. This shift towards digital is also illustrated by the change in Voice Split. Digital campaigns with influencers clearly play a key role now, as they account for 40.6% of the Share of Value compared to 16% when the brand was under Christopher Bailey. 

Burberry’s tone of voice remains quintessentially British but now merges the traditional with the contemporary, creating collections that are wearable across audiences, paired with clever digital marketing strategies that set the brand apart.

F IS FOR…FENDI

Similarly, Fendi has implemented digital strategies that rework the way audiences see and consume the brand. Cristiana Monfardini, the brand’s Worldwide Communications Director, envisioned their new 360-degree communication platform, which took the brand from ‘just fashion’ to the source of a collaborative content hub. F IS FOR…FENDI, works with the likes of Billie Eilish and Winnie Harlow, with fashion being just one of the elements the platform spotlights.

Like Burberry, the goal of this platform is to connect with a younger audience, that is shaping up to provide a vision of the customer of tomorrow. The new brainchild leverages social media well and allows the brand to develop a new tone of voice, without compromising the reputation they have already created – their Instagram bio states: “We are the fearless, the freaks and the free. We are #fisforfendi.”

The brand has also been focusing more on digital development, with partnerships across the world, as well as targeted digital initiatives through WeChat in China, one of the brand’s fastest-growing markets.

Gucci

Another brand focusing heavily on its audiences in East Asia is Gucci. With a billion monthly active users across social media platforms in China, the opportunities are endless. The company has been leveraging platforms like WeChat and Weibo, as well as creating hyper-targeted campaigns to the audience that accounts for more than one-third of their annual revenue.

Much of Gucci’s increased popularity in recent years has been due to their Owned Media, as well as their change in branding, to appeal to a newer audience. Creative Director, Alessandro Michele, has an eye for what might appear to newer audiences, as some of the pieces appear as if they are almost designed for Instagram. The combination of expressive, bold and eye-catching designs set the luxury fashion house apart from its competitors, whilst still remaining an exclusive product that is flaunted on many an Instagram feed.

Dior

Dior is another brand that has seen an evolution when it comes to their digital strategy. Influencer campaigns are central to their new strategy, and the house has been working with some of the most popular bloggers worldwide to promote its ready-to-wear, accessories and beauty launches. For one of its Cruise shows in Calabasas, Dior flew in – and dressed – key influencers including The Blonde Salad’s Chiara Ferragni, Song of Style’s Aimee Song and Negin Mirsalehi. Additionally, the brand went on to create short videos where each influencer shared their opinion of the show on Instagram Stories, in order to recreate the experience for the user. Additionally, Dior partnered with Chiara Ferragni for the creation of her wedding dress, which was also filmed and shared on their (and the influencer’s) social channels, drumming up $5.2M in MIV for Dior alone. 

 

Embracing a uniform strategy across different categories, as seen at Dior, seems key as established fashion houses seek to reinvigorate their image and offering. It’s equally important to respect the label’s heritage and look to new, creative ways of narrating stories for the modern, digitally-savvy consumer.

Conveying a strong, powerful message is becoming increasingly important in the noisy and overcrowded luxury market. ‘Having something relevant to say is the first challenge for brands today. Otherwise direct to consumer digital communication becomes just another source of spam and pestering,’ says Luca Solca, head of luxury at BNP Exane Paribas. Digital ought not to dilute the brand’s message, but rather amplify it.

Do you want to see how your brand measures up?

 *MIV® is a registered mark in the European Union.

Julia Cohen

Julia is a fashion writer and content creator based in London. She studied an MSc in Media and Communications at LSE, as well as Mandarin, Chinese, and has worked with various fashion and beauty brands within the UK.

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