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The Digital Evolution of Luxury Fashion Houses

Natalie Yiassoumi

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.

Heritage brands have had to reconsider both their design and communications strategies, to cater to the increasingly savvy 21st-century consumer.

The famed Italian fashion house, Salvatore Ferragamo, has been in the midst of a strategy shift following the appointment of Eraldo Poletto as its new CEO. A host of new designers have been recruited, including British footwear maverick Paul Andrew (who has been named Creative Director of Shoes) and Fulvio Rigoni, who will head the ready-to-wear division.

Following his appointment earlier this year, Poletto said that his focus would be to develop a ‘digital mindset’ within the company and work on ‘a strong push on content that will create excitement.’

One of the first projects he spearheaded included the re-launch of the brand’s website to introduce a more user-friendly e-commerce platform. Accompanying the new website are digital campaigns with influencers from across the world as well as targeted digital initiatives through WeChat in China, one of the brand’s fastest growing markets.

Ferragamo has particularly focused on promoting product categories beyond shoes through its social channels, in an effort to establish new classics and revitalize its current offer. Models of the moment such as Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Kendall Jenner and Lily Aldridge are pictured with the brand’s new ‘Sofia’ top handle bag, as are international influencers, from Australian-native Nicole Warne to Seoul-based Lee Sung Keung.

Despite the efforts to become more digitally-minded and diversify the brand’s offer beyond its classic shoe styles, heritage remains at the heart of the Ferragamo, with iconic items such as its bow-embellished ballerina flats and printed silk scarves at the fore. It has also recently launched an Instagram initiative, where the brand narrates its history through a series of illustrations.

As major fashion labels seek digital reinvigoration, it seems that their past remains as important as the present. Modern shoppers continue to appreciate the ideas of history and craftsmanship; they are just looking to consume those ideas outside the confines of the brand’s stores, in a more interactive way through digital media.

Historic jewellery houses have also been looking to revamp their image and target the millennial consumer. Swiss fine jewelry house Piaget, for instance, has decided to jump on the e-commerce bandwagon, selling its ‘Possessions’ range online on Net-a-Porter for the first time, while enlisting Olivia Palermo to star in a digital campaign to promote the new launch.

Similarly, Cartier made additions to its Amulette de Cartier collection of interchangeable talisman pendant necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings with new pieces, made from guilloché gold, snakewood and malachite, to attract a younger buyer at an opening price point of under $2,000 at retail. It then went on to start selling the collection via WeChat to great success. Even though European heritage brands are wary of their reputations and tend to shy away from e-commerce, Cartier said that it wanted to expand its reach and cater to the mobile, digitally-native Chinese consumer.

I wish to be strong. #AmulettedeCartier #Unlockyourwish @amulette_onyx Love it? Tap link in profile to shop.

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Dior has been another historic label to embrace social channels such as WeChat, particularly as it seeks to renew its image under the creative direction of Maria Grazia Chiuri. The brand joined WeChat last summer with a flash sale of Lady Dior bags, which sold out within the same day of the launch, following a teaser campaign which urged users to keep checking the channel for a surprise.

Influencer campaigns are also central to Dior’s new strategy, and the house has been working with some of the most popular bloggers worldwide to promote both its ready-to-wear, accessories and beauty launches. For its latest Cruise show 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 created short videos where each influencer shared their opinion of the show on Instagram Stories, in order to recreate the experience for the user.  A few weeks later, the brand also released a playful video starring Ferragni and brand ambassador Bella Hadid, to promote its new pump-and-volume mascara.

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.

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