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How Donatella Versace Is Successfully Targeting Millennials With Versus

Data on the Runway SS//2018 Report Discover which designers and influencers generated the most engagement during Fashion Week.
Rosanna Ryan

Versace, the iconic Italian luxury brand, and its sister line Versus, were on every fashionista’s Instagram feed during fashion month this year.

The image of Donatella walking down the runway with the 90’s supermodel quintet following hand-in-hand – Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Helena Christensen and the former French first lady Carla Bruni – for the Versace finale is one that will stay forever engraved in the memories of fashion lovers everywhere. Dressed in the iconic chain-mail Orton dress, the catwalk veterans looked just as glamorous and sexy as they did when Gianni Versace first sent them down the catwalk nearly two decades ago. This spectacle sparked incredible buzz on social channels around the world thanks to all of the fashion show attendees pulling out their phones and posting snaps of this historical fashion moment for everyone to see. This unforgettable event boosted engagement for the brand; Versace’s show was one of the most talked about during Milan Fashion Week. On Instagram alone, Versace generated 505,796 interactions with just four photos  of the event under the hashtag #VersaceTribute.

It wasn’t just this eponymous label that ranked high on the list of most engaging brands during fashion month, its sister line, Versus, also had everyone talking. Versus has experienced a successful transformation over the last eight years, after it was resurrected in 2009. It was first launched in 1989, when Gianni Versace decided to gift this diffusion line to his sister and muse. “Versus was born with an innate creative approach, with a strong focus on innovation, flair and the unconventional”, as Gianni said, and this is something Donatella has certainly taken to heart.

Donatella’s ultimate goal with this line is to “reach out to non-fashion people” and provide an offering to “everyone who dares to express themselves”.

This is how Donatella is capturing the millennial crowd and boosting revenue for the brand:

1. Defining the right social media tone

Simply scroll through Versus and Versace’s Instagram profiles and you’ll immediately see the difference. While Versace’s Insta photos are much more polished, edited, and fashion-focused, Versus feels much more raw and artistic. The aesthetic of the photos and videos plus the styling of the looks gives Versus the edge and carefree feel that a streetwear label should have.

An intimate look at @adwoaaboah’s Metal Mesh-infused look. #VersusUncensored

A post shared by VERSUS VERSACE (@versus_versace) on

2. Generating engaging content with micro-influencers

Versus does, of course, work with major influencers, but for their fall/winter 2017 campaign Donatella opted to tap eight young creatives whose names may not be as easily recognizable as Gigi or Bella’s. “I really admire the young creatives in the new Versus campaign,” said Dontella Versace. “I call them the Sub-Versus Generation, a community of subcultures taking a stand for their beliefs and for their individuality.” This is the group of micro-influencers photographed by Ben Toms:

3. Creating exclusive capsule collections

It wouldn’t be the first time you’ve heard of Gigi Hadid teaming up with a fashion label to take part in the artistic process, as she’s recently shown her third collection for Tommy Hilfiger. However, this time Gigi Hadid was behind the camera, shooting her boyfriend, Zayn, for the spring/summer 2017 collection he collaborated on with Donatella. The photos by Gigi have that uncensored feel the brand aims for, and, while her sister Bella appears in the Zayn collection campaign several times as well, Gigi is completely absent, except for her voice we hear when interviewing model Adwoa Aboah or the tips of her shoes in one of Zayn’s photos:  

An intimate look at a night with @GigiHadid and @Zayn on the #VersusSS17 campaign. #VersusUncensored

A post shared by VERSUS VERSACE (@versus_versace) on

4. Showing in London

When Versus was first launched, New York was it’s home during Fashion Week. Yet, since 2016 London has been the capital of choice for the streetwear brand. Versus first showed in London in 2016 when Anthony Vaccarello was at the helm, but after his departure to take over Saint Laurent, Donatella has remained in the British capital. And according to the data, London is exactly where Versus should be: it ranked as the fourth most engaging brand on social media during #LFW, generating 3.2 million interactions.

5. Joining the sustainability movement

Sustainability is at the forefront of issues millennials are concerned with and Donatella knows that in order to stay relevant and keep younger generations interested in the brand, changes must be made. “What counts for me, for the company, for young people, is sustainability, maybe even more than creativity, and it will be an increasingly important theme. We are now working with Nativa [Corp.], which is teaching us about sustainability, which is not only about avoiding the use of certain materials, but also about company culture, how behavior must change. It’s very interesting,” she told WWD. Currently, Versace is working on optimizing their denim dyeing process to reduce wastewater pollution.

By working with the likes of Gigi Hadid and Zayn, delving into a world of artistic experimentation with young micro-influencers to create engaging social media campaigns and introducing the sustainability element in their manufacturing process, Donatella is ensuring an exciting future for Versus. What do you think of her latest initiatives? Let us know in the comments below!

For more information on the Versus show in London and the Versace show in Milan, check out our Data on the Runway SS//2018 report. We’ve also got the scoop on which influencers and other designer labels ranked highest at every Fashion Week.

data on the runway

Rosanna RyanContent & Social Media Specialist

Rosanna is the author of The Fashion English Bible, an English guide for Spanish-speaking fashion professionals. She studied fashion at SCAD and has worked in the industry in NYC, London and now Madrid. She is passionate about design, creativity and innovation.

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