As luxury fashion brands become more global, they’re packing their bags and heading where the customers are.
By Allyson Rees | Impressionist
Arguably New York Fashion Week’s buzziest show, Givenchy’s one-season-only stateside stint marks the latest luxury fashion house to bring its show on the road. Next month, The Row will follow suit with its second Paris presentation.
2015 has been the year of the traveling runway show, starting with Tom Ford’s star-studded Oscar week fashion show and party in Los Angeles. In April, The City of Angels hosted another London-based brand when Burberry turned Griffith Park into an English garden party complete with First Battalion Grenadier Guards.
Known for their exotic locations, the resort shows continued the traveling trend, and designers set up camp at some of the world’s most architecturally significant landmarks. For Raf Simons and Dior, it was Pierre Cardin’s Palais Bulles on the French Riviera, designed by architect Antti Lovag. For Louis Vuitton, Nicolas Ghesquière was inspired by Bob Hope’s mid-century estate, a John Lautner-designed compound in Palm Springs. And Karl Lagerfeld, known for giving Chanel its current global brand equity, turned Seoul’s Dongdaemun Design Plaza into a K-Pop-bumping runway.
Globe-trotting is not a new concept for Chanel, and one could argue that the French fashion house pioneered the industry trend of bringing the runway to the global customer (after all, its A/W 2013/14 show was inspired by the globalization of fashion), but for today’s brands, it’s not just about boots on the ground in local markets—they must also make a social footprint.
“The introduction of fashion shows in new cities around the world, and not just the big expected four, is one that makes an enormous amount of sense for brands with increasingly global consumer bases,” says Rachel Arthur, a London-based business journalist and digital innovation strategist. “Today’s designers rely on fans in Shanghai as much as, if not more so, from a revenue perspective, than those in their home country of France or Italy, which is what has made social media particularly important on a localized basis.”
According to Arthur, Burberry has been the pioneer in the localized digital/social space, and the brand has made a conscious effort to connect with consumers both online and offline. Last April, Burberry used China’s WeChat app to promote its “London in Shanghai” runway event and store opening. In addition to providing exclusive runway and celebrity content, the “immersive fashion experience” allowed users to customize a digital Burberry “Made For” plaque with their name in Chinese or English characters. “You’ll see the majority of savvy fashion houses today ensuring they’re working in multiple languages as well as engaging on platforms relevant to specific markets,” Arthur explains.
For Givenchy, who has not had a Manhattan flagship since 2006, moving from Paris to New York Fashion Week and making the show accessible to the public is a savvy business decision. “Fashion weeks particularly have been an occasion when more effort is made than ever to ensure fans are given access to as much of the brand as possible,” says Arthur. “The same goes with ensuring local influencers are involved—everything has to hit as many global markets as possible with content that feels personalized and unique to that place.”
Luckily for Givenchy, the brand’s “local influencers” are none other than America’s royal family—the Kardashian-West-Jenners—all of whom were on hand at Pier 26. With 3.2 million followers and almost 16 million tags on Instagram, Givenchy has no brand awareness problem, but a glamorous, start-studded social media event is surely bolstering both the local New York City market and the brand’s growing international following.