5 Things You May Have Missed This Week

By Georgia Buchanan

1. How A Social Networking App Became A Clothing Line

Grindr, the all-male dating app, has been a firm favourite in the fashion world for some time now, having hosted the exclusive live-stream of J.W. Anderson’s fall 2016 show this January, given away prizes from a host of different brands, co-hosting a Pride part with Visionaire, and being used by Paper Magazine (a FashTech favourite) to cast their very raunchy ‘Sexy’ issue in June. But now, the app has gone one step further, launching its very own menswear line called The Varsity Collection this week.

The collection consists of 29 pieces, ranging from $25 - $130, and boasting a strong athleisure theme, including swimming trunks, tracksuit bottoms and mesh tops, and intricate prints created in collaboration with design studio Print All Over Me. All proceeds from the collection will go towards Athlete Ally’s Principle 6 campaign, a charity benefitting LGBTQ athletes. “As we keep evolving, we are looking for ways to combine things people enjoy with ways to help the community globally,” said Landis Smithers, creative director of Grindr. “The collection feels sexy, cheeky, fun, but in the end, all profits are going to an amazing group that helps athletes with the issues the gay community faces all around the world.”

Sold on grindrstore.com, this is just another way in which we are seeing the digital world branch over into the retail world. With Grindr leading the way for app-initiated clothing lines, it may not be long before others start following suit. E-commerce sites are frequently being seen as a quick and easy way to enter into the retail world, and with the tech-savvy team of a successful app behind you, it may well be a recipe for ongoing success.

2. Hybrid Future: The MET’s Andrew Bolton Talks Hands and Machines

This week REDEF’s Adam Wray met with the Met’s Costume Institute curator Andrew Bolton to reflect on his latest exhibition, Manus x Machina, and discuss the future of fashion, creativity and manufacturing.

Bolton explains his apprehension of the exhibition not matching up to people’s expectations as the common association with technology in fashion is wearable tech and he feared many would go anticipating such displays. Fortunately, the public embraced the exhibition and appreciated it’s thesis, appreciating the materiality and the difference between what was made by hand from what was made by machine. As the fashion tech industry continues to evolve and starts to spread across a number of other different industries, the Met’s exhibition has acted as a brilliant introduction and insight into this world for those who are unfamiliar with it, or perhaps familiar but unaware.

To discover more of Bolton’s exclusive insights into the exhibition, and to read which emerging technologies he thinks could reshape the fashion industry, click here.

3. Instagram’s New Business Tools

Instagram has launched three new tools to help its 200,000 advertisers make an impact on the Facebook-owned app. The toolkit, consisting of business profiles, analytics and the ability to promote posts, will help small businesses grow their network and find new customers. With over 300 million active users, it’s not surprising that the app is becoming a hub for businesses to promote their products and reach new customers.

The new “Business Profile” feature will enable businesses to turn their Instagram profile into a mini website of sorts, by allowing them to clearly show they are a business and giving them a ‘contact’ button so that potential customers can get in touch, either by phone, text or email; a much easier means of communication than sifting through and replying to comments under each post.  Meanwhile, the “Insights” tool is designed to allow businesses to analyse which of their posts are connecting the most with their followers in a simple format that doesn’t overwhelm. Instagram explained: “By learning more about the behaviour and demographics of your audience, you can create more relevant and timely content.” Lastly, “Promote” gives businesses the chance to promote well-performing posts as adverts in order to reach a larger demographic of would-be customers. Similarly to Facebook sponsored posts, companies can either choose a target audience or let Instagram do it for them before deciding how long they wish the promoted advert to run.

The tools will roll out in the US, Australia and New Zealand in the coming months and will be available worldwide by the end of the year. Having more than doubled in size over the last two years, with a current 300 million people using the service every day, it seems the perfect platform for small businesses to make their mark. 

4. How Should Luxury Brands Navigate Creative Shift on Social Media? 

This article originally appeared on Luxury Daily.

As fashion houses make the transition from one creative director to another, the opportunity at a fresh start presents itself in both design and social media presence.

Brands including Brioni, Saint Laurent and DKNY have literally wiped the slate clean as they welcomed a new artistic vision into their brand, deleting all trace of their former creative directors or brand managers on Instagram or Twitter. While this enables brands to focus on creating a cohesive presence under a new vision, this tactic destroys elements of a brand's history.

"New creative directors are hired to bring a new creative vision to a brand, and in that sense, their job is to wipe the slate clean," said Ana Andjelic, senior vice president and global strategy director at Havas LuxHub. "They are brought in to make a brand more culturally relevant, more appealing to consumers and/or more financially successful.

"But brands’ communication teams seem to have taken this too literally," she said. "They also show a thorough failure to understand what social media are about.

"Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and even Facebook are all momentary, instantaneous. They don’t exist beyond a moment. They are reflection of the now. No one cares about a Tweet from a month ago or an Instagram post from last year. Snapchat doesn’t even allow us to care.

"There is no point in deleting legacy posts. For one, no one cares, and second, it’s bad professional practice. The message you are sending is that you want to undo everything that a previous creative director has done. That shows a lack of respect."

Leaving no trace
Brioni cleared out its Instagram the day it announced Justin O’Shea’s appointment as creative director, leaving a solitary picture of the new hire.

Considered at the time to be an unconventional choice, as he had come from the world of retail, Mr. O’Shea has taken Brioni in a decidedly rock ‘n’ roll direction, casting Metallica in his first campaign and remaking the Brioni logo in a gothic font.

Saint Laurent similarly let go of its Instagram footprint as Hedi Slimane left after four years at the helm. Mr. Slimane is credited with rebranding the house. He first revised its name from Saint Laurent to Saint Laurent Paris, secondly embraced a rocker aesthetic which often saw music icons in campaigns and reestablished the brand’s couture collection.

After Mr. Slimane exited the brand in April, Saint Laurent was quiet on its social channels, sharing nothing but a headshot of new appointment Anthony Vaccarello on April 6. In June, Saint Laurent began teasing the first campaign envisioned by Mr. Vaccarello, and as of press time, the campaign remains the only content on Saint Lauren’s Instagram.

"I don’t think that we should necessarily link the continuity of social media accounts with a brand heritage," Ms. Andjelic said. "Sure, social media accounts are a modern 'archive' of looks and brand imagery, but if they are done well, they are also more of a reflection of consumers’ desires, street looks and an embodiment of fashion as material culture.

"They are more outward than inward facing - they are an active cultural dialogue," she said. "In that sense, wiping a brand’s social media account away means deleting part of this brand’s dialogue with culture and with consumers. Why would they want to do that?"

The same strategy has been used when the face behind a brand’s Twitter account departs.

U.S. fashion brand Donna Karan International completely overhauled its Twitter and Instagram accounts surrounding the departure of longtime employee Aliza Licht, who spoke for the brand on social media as DKNY PR Girl.

The brand deleted all of the past posts from the two platforms, which represented both Donna Karan Collection and the diffusion line DKNY, as part of a renewed social strategy. With DKI’s social media presence inherently tied to the PR representative’s personality, this transition will be a time of rebuilding for the brand’s online persona.

Taking away traces of a brand’s past under another creative director can offer a chance at a fresh start. However, at the same time, it destroys any brand image and voice the label had developed on the platform.

"It's a shame that these brands have chosen such a permanent removal strategy as they've chosen to erase some of the history of the brand and how it's evolved," said Dalia Strum, professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology and founder of Dalia Inc. andMommysToolbox.com, New York.

"There's something to be said about the brand's story, their relevancy and how do they emotionally connect to their customer," she said. "Essentially, those personalities were the aspirational clientele of the brand and they could be utilized moving forward.

"As these brands have spent years curating their brand personalities, it would be simple to replace their voice with a similar one whom has an aligned vision."

Changing hands
In the midst of fashion industry musical chairs, this drastic approach at repositioning or regrouping that is often taken by celebrities is still the exception rather than the rule.

After months of swelling speculation, PVH Corp. has officially announced that Raf Simons will be the chief creative officer of the Calvin Klein brand.

Mr. Simons, who exited his lead design role at Dior last fall, will now be in charge of all Calvin Klein labels, from its runway Calvin Klein Collection to its Calvin Klein Underwear, overseeing design as well as marketing and communications. With this appointment, Calvin Klein is uniting all of its entities under a singular vision, enabling the brand to ensure cohesion.

Despite this strategic move by Calvin Klein, the brand has retained its social media history.

Creative director tenures are becoming shorter, as designers at brands including Balenciaga, Oscar de la Renta and Sergio Rossi lasted for about two to three years.

"[Labels] shouldn’t obsess about it," Ms. Andjelic said. "If their brand has a strong attitude and a clear point of view, then any creative director is going to offer their interpretation of that attitude and POV. But the underlining thread is going to be the same.

"People interact with brands when they are intrigued by this attitude, when they can identify with it, when they can make it their own," she said. "That’s what fashion brands should strive to achieve on social media - to put forward imagery that invites conversation, not to use it as a shrine to some personality.”

5. Luxury’s Need For The Middleman

A number of newer luxury start ups are bypassing retailers to go direct-to-consumer, painting them as an unnecessary meddling intermediary, but for growing luxury brands these intermediaries can be critical.

Whilst some e-commerce pioneers, like Warby Parker, take pride in their omission of third-party retail distributors, these so-called ‘baddies’ are often there for a very valid reason, offering clear business benefits by taking on the task of merchandising and selling product and thus enabling brands to focus on design. Whilst this could be enough to convince one of their importance, they hold even greater significance to the luxury fashion market, playing a fundamental role in the earliest stages of luxury brand building.

Luxury goods companies, which are usually prided on the beauty of their products rather than the practicality, require a powerful brand identity and a strong customer desire in contemporary consumer culture in order to sell at such high price points. This is where the middlemen of the fashion system are so necessary. “From niche boutiques to the biggest department stores, these institutions already possesses a core customer base that sees some type of intrinsic value in the retailer — whether it is a sense of prestige, a tribal sense of belonging or an artistic cognisance of something innovative or avant-garde. Through being stocked at a particular retailer, the perceptible values of said retailer, in turn, become available to newly established labels, a brand-building phenomenon impossible to replicate with the direct-to-consumer model. After all, who can deny the fact that consumer perception of a brand is shaped by where the customer buys the product?” (Business of Fashion).