Karla Otto and Lefty Unpack the True Impact of Fashion Weeks Influence

The Impression Gleans Three Key Takeaways from Karla Otto & Lefty’s Fall 2023 Mens Fashion Week Report

By Angela Baidoo

Capturing data and analytics from the source are some of the only ways that valuable information can be gathered to help brands better understand the impact of their front row seating choices, the inclusivity of their casting, the Earned Media Value (EMV) of their branded content, and who is disrupting the influencer hierarchy.

AW23 Menswear Roundup Lefty x Karla Otto

Those who sit at the C-Suite or Director level need to lead teams with certainty in an uncertain world and require data to support the many directions they need to take. So tailored solutions to real-world problems, many of which brands with a storied heritage are facing headlong into – whether that is how to boost the viewing figures of a runway livestream, or what K-Pop star to tap as their next brand ambassador.

To answer this pressing need, enter the powerful collaboration, which was launched late last year, of Karla Otto, who have been a key name in the industry since 1982, as a pioneering brand-building agency whose international reach encompasses over thirteen global territories, and Lefty, who launched their platform to help brands optimise their influencer marketing programs in 2015.

AW23 Menswear Roundup Lefty x Karla Otto

By working in partnership, these two brands will utilise holistic industry insight to fuel data that is garnered from their approach to creating unrivalled events, developing unique campaign strategy’s, executing creative collaborations, and curating authentic communities for clients that have included Cartier, Marni, Aesop, H&M, Nike, and The Standard Hotel.

More than amplifying the important part that data has to play in all areas of the fashion industry, the coming together of Lefty x Karla Otto has allowed the agency to introduce data-led reporting, merged with intuitive behind-the-scenes insight as the natural evolution for the PR industry. Forecasting marketing trends that will transform the industry in the future and broaden the influence and scope of both Lefty and Karla Otto.

Karla Otto recognises the need from brands for insights informed by real world data and relevant cultural context that will help shape on point strategies. Through our partnership with Lefty we can track macro trends and behaviours, before using our global cultural oversight and deep industry knowledge to offer reasoning that will better advise brands on how to quickly plan and react

– Lissy von Schwarzkopf, Chief Business Officer, Karla Otto

The Karla Otto Insights division, backed by the collective experience of The Independents’ network (which comprises of a group of luxury and lifestyle industry leaders, from Bureau Betak to The Qode) is a new service which expands the breadth of the agency’s influence, providing a unique view of the market gained from over 40 years of experience on the ground.

We are delighted to work alongside Karla Otto to deliver these unique insights to our clients and the rest of the market. They’re a combination of the savoir-faire and on-the-ground experience of Karla Otto in delivering custom influencer campaigns to the world’s most valuable brands, and Lefty’s data capabilities that help understand the big underlying trends in the market

– Thomas Repelski, CEO, Lefty

Recognising the need of an industry in flux, Lefty and Karla Otto have combined their shared speciality’s to provide a balance between content and consultancy across fashion, beauty, and lifestyle.

Being pertinent to decades-long insight from their industry partners and their role as facilitators of the creative vision of design houses and contemporary brands, sets Lefty x Karla Otto’s new service apart from industry rivals. Aiming to answer the most pressing questions (before they are even asked) from businesses across these key sectors, ‘Insights by Karla Otto’ will use data-backed insights from Lefty, and lean on the expertise of a team with backgrounds in trend forecasting, influencer marketing, journalism, communications, and digital innovation to produce a series of timely reports on the ‘need-to-know data from Fashion Weeks’, and trends that are shifting the influencer space from ‘The Power of K-Pop’ to ‘Beauty & The Evolution of Influence’.

Predicting the Power of K-Pop

The partnerships first report, which went live in October 2022, called out the exponential impact that the K-Pop universe was set to have on the fashion industry. And while many publications, digital media platforms, and trend agencies have reported on individual members of the most influential K-Pop bands from Blackpink to BTS, the report titled ‘The Power of K-Pop’ expanded the observation to deep-dive into how this growing co-hort are ingrained in the APAC regions entertainment industry – from music to film and television. As well as the fact that they come with a built-in ‘highly engaged global audience’ which luxury brands have only just started to scratch the surface of. 

This insight on the K-Pop scene no doubt influenced a number of brands at the most recent menswear fashion weeks who rethought their guest lists to position these influential stars front-and-centre.

The result of which led to some impressive MIV numbers, according to the reports analysis of the season Thai stars “Win Metawin drove $3M in EMV for Prada followed by Singer Ten, who generated $1.4M EMV for Saint Laurent”.

Win Metawin outside the Prada Mens F/W 2023 Show

The Top 3 Insights from the Lefty x Karla Otto AW 23 Menswear Roundup

Following a breakout season for menswear, the Lefty x Karla Otto team flexed their influence to consolidate in-house knowledge, data, and real-time analysis into a comprehensive report whose key findings will be a significant value-add for brands as we enter the women’s AW 23 season.

Here, at The Impression we are highlighting three key trends that have emerged from their most recent ‘Round Up: Men’s Fashion Week AW 23’ report, which demonstrate the strength of this data-powered service. As the report states, this season the combined Milan and Paris menswear season grew by 41%, and generated a total of $15M in EMV.

Breaking Down the Top 10

AW23 Menswear Roundup Lefty x Karla Otto

Across both women’s and menswear, it is no secret that the luxury powerhouses continue to make gains and increase their influence. But these brands are becoming more strategic in where they place their marketing dollars, moving towards a reliance on one or two key influencers and adopting a strategy of creating less, but more impactful content via social media posts, proving to be a winning formula.

Rounding out the first half of the Top 10 were Prada at the number one spot, followed by Dior, Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton, and Maison Margiela.

Which when we deep dive into the why, it is evident that the flood of engagement with these brands during fashion week can be attributed to a small number of social media influencers, which included the K-Pop group Enhyphen (who garnered $7.2M in EMV), singer, rapper, television host, and actor Jaehyun, and English actor Louis Partridge all at Prada, Kylie Jenner ($8.8M in EMV) at Maison Margiela, and member of K-Pop boy band BTS’s Park Jimin at Dior (contributing an impressive $17.1M, which accounted for 54% of the shows EMV).

AW23 Menswear Roundup Lefty x Karla Otto

Clarifying for luxury fashion houses, as well as the industry-at-large, that shifting to a less-is-more (and new regions) approach when it comes to influencers – in order to maximise impact and brand positioning – is where this method of marketing and brand engagement is headed.

Riding the K-Wave

In a shift that the team have been tracking since the release of their report on ‘The Power of K-Pop’, their data analysis of the AW 23 season confirms a discernible shift towards K-Pop stars driving a significant portion (38%, converting to $57.9M) of EMV for both the Milan and Paris fashion weeks.

Jimin’s single post of his attendance of the Dior show was liked over 9 million times on Instagram, and Thai actor (who originally hails from China) Metawin, also known as Win, saw over 1 million likes of his posts documenting his attendance of the Prada show.

it’s not just the shows that generate hype. The world of influence has never been more prevalent. More so than ever, looking at who a brand invites to the show is like taking a deep dive into their business plan.

– Anna Ross, Head of Creative Insight & Trends, Karla Otto
AW23 Menswear Roundup Lefty x Karla Otto

As stated in the report, Korean nationals are now the “world’s biggest spenders on luxury goods per capita”, a statistic which has likely lead to a number of luxury brands tapping into the movement through the securing of some of the region’s biggest stars for exclusive ambassador partnerships, confident in not just their local, but global reach.

The highlighting of this shift marks an opportunity that brands across the luxury landscape would do well to take note of, especially at a time when the return-on-investment of influencer marketing is starting to be questioned, due to an over-saturation of the market and a well-documented fatigue from the consumer.

The Entertainment Economy

As steaming services are set to further entrench themselves into the world of fashion, brands are already capitalising on the popularity of Netflix stars with Gen Z appeal, as a way to generate buzz.

Whether walking in shows or taking prime position on the front row, the impact of recent hits from HBO, Netflix, or Amazon such as Emily in Paris, The White Lotus, Wednesday, and Stranger Things are proving their influential power over purchasing decisions. A key call-out from the report highlights the impact of season 2 of the HBO show Euphoria:

Anna Ross - Writer The Impression

Entertainment has serious conversion power. In 2022, following the launch of the second season of Euphoria, searches on Depop increased by over 345% month on month as shoppers rushed to echo the style of its cast

– Anna Ross, Head of Creative Insight & Trends, Karla Otto

Cross-pollinating fashion and entertainment can provide a rich source of revenue for brands, as the moment a show goes viral, whether overnight or as a slow-burner, the fashion choices of the Costume Designer will be poured over, scrutinised, and recreated on TikTok as show fans seek to get the look of their favourite cast member, whether that be #gothcore or the y2K aesthetic. Aligning with some of the most infamous shows is becoming a key part of a number of fashion brands marketing plans, as was seen late last year when footwear brand Malone Souliers launched an exclusive capsule collection with Netflix’s Emily in Paris, inspired by the shows ‘most memorable fashion moments’.

Alongside K-Pop actors, who are set to gain even more notoriety, as the report confirms K-Drama will be the next cultural moment, with Netflix announcing the release of 34 new Korean shows in 2023, the stars of the small screen will be the ones to nurture and get on show guestlists. While working with the costume departments for lucrative product placements is an opportunity not to be missed by brands at all levels of the market.

As a new service that looks to the future by harnessing data to forecast what’s next, while tapping into over 40 years of experience and industry insight, we at The Impression look forward to covering more of Lefty x Karla Otto’s reports in the future.

Being pertinent to decades-long insight from their industry partners and their role as facilitators of the creative vision of design houses and contemporary brands, sets Lefty x Karla Otto’s new service apart from industry rivals.