How brands get the most bang-for-the-buck by using ready-made talent and product during fashion weeks.
With content-driven becoming the marketing play du jour for brands, a new challenge arises for labels that once excelled in producing product. They have become image-makers as well. As the skies-the-limit photo shoot budgets have gone by the wayside along with dwindling ad dollars, a runway show, or fashion week presentation has morphed into a stage to create imagery and content not just for the day but for the season ahead. The Impression takes a look at several very different brands and how the Spring 2020 season provided unique opportunity to grasp more than meets the eye.
Gucci, who is forever breaking boundaries (and often taboos), pulled back the curtain on creative director Alessandro Michele’s show day process with a film that appears on their website and social media channel. The 4 minute and 5 second video shot by Yuri Ancarani, entitled Maison de I’Amour captures the adulation, joy, and anxiety that comes along with a collection debut. Michele is seen trying out the conveyor belt runway, reviewing the fittings and line-up of the show and monitoring the show via backstage prompter, nervously tapping his heart with his ring-clad hand. A spooky soundtrack performed by experimental musician Akira Rabelais entitled a “Star to Every wandering worth’s unknown” features whispering in French courtesy of Agreïphontes. The video also captures shoes, bags, and garments in various stages of their construction to round out this A to Z look at what goes into a show. The video can be seen on the Gucci websites’ stories section.
But while a powerhouse like Gucci may wish to engage as many as possible in its creative expression, other brands have more pragmatic reasons. For instance, Dirty Pineapple, a young contemporary brand from Shanghai helmed by Nelly Wong, making the most of the investment is both a creative and pragmatic decision. For its second season, the brand decided to debut their wares during New York Fashion Week. They retained the services of REP Agency led by founder and PR veteran Florent Belda. The brand, whose name riffs on the recent pineapple trend in design giving it a slightly edgy and sexual connotation, wanted to maximize their show production following Belda’s counsel. “The brand is very content-driven with a clear vision; while the design isn’t necessarily ground-breaking, their attitude is and their target is a cool product. It’s very expensive to stage a show in New York City so we tell our clients to grab as much content as possible around the show production.” The agency takes full advantage of their network with young up-and-coming photographers and videographers and invited the collaborators to come capture the process from the prep, castings, fittings to the day of the show to capture backstage, beauty or anything that was happening. The brand also created a short documentary film about the whole process.
The New York-based publicist explains utilizing the models; styling, hair and make-up artists while hired and on hand allows them to capture all of these during the show process which will roll out throughout the season on social media and the website and also be sent to press to use as an additional asset. “Dirty Pineapple has a direct to consumer sales model. For example, the 40 show looks will drop eight times during the season about every two weeks with five looks.” In addition, as the season rolls out any additional shooting needed will most likely be done with a KOL (Key Opinion Leader) aka influencer.
REP Agency paired Wong with Miguel Enamorado to style the genderless collection called “Recycled Love” who casting according to Wong was based on “a cool house party and the diversity you will find there, not just because of politics.” Pieces of the collection were also gifted to models who will then travel to London, Milan and Paris furthering opportunities to promote the new collection. Says Belda “We have been successful with models wearing the brand during castings; this is a strategy we are working on this season too.”
But not every golden showing opportunity is exploited to its full potential. Aurora James, founder and creative director of Brother Vellies, debuted her Spring 2020 collection in Paris for the first time after foregoing a formal presentation for the last couple of seasons. Inspired by travels to Paris over the summer, the designer was serendipitously invited by The Peninsula Hotel who inaugurated their new ‘Art in Resonance’ program, a commission-based art program to support emerging and mid-career artists financially and logistically to help them realize dream projects while still retaining ownership of their work. Her presentation took place in the Rotunda and was a 360-degree set immersed with models, foliage and other props displaying her African-produced and generally sustainable accessories collection.
Despite the ready-made backdrop of the Parisian capitol at her disposal, the designer kept her focus on the presentation in its completion preferring to create a moment to be experienced live, in the here and now, only sharing about five images from the event on Instagram. “I think it’s important to address to our community that the presentation and collection, entitled ‘Here My Dear’ after Marvin Gaye’s album in 1978, happened. That said, our dedicated followers also know that I’m a pretty sentimental person and I like certain moments to stay sacred. It wasn’t really meant to be dissected in small pieces rather ingested as a whole. “
The Brooklyn-based designer didn’t feel the need to succumb overexposing the event on social media adding, “Fashion is feeling a little overly contrived to me, everyone is freaking out trying to control their own narratives so much, constantly looking in their selfie camera’s making sure their costume of persona is on straight.” If some of her brands moments making into the digital universe or not, either is fine for James. “I don’t think that feeling pressure to do things for Instagram should ever be a driver in your creative expression – especially in physical spaces. I just want to create, feel love, experience joy, fight in the resistance and overall live my life in a way that feels authentic to myself and our customers.” That said, having assets to distribute to press that could potentially also be used on the website or a lookbook is a part of today’s commercial success recipe. Her house photographers caught guests and the theater presentation on large format as well as set detail shots and close-ups of the accessories in other photo-friendly spots in the hotel.
Prada has been engaging maximizing the plethora of photo ops that a show and new ad campaign can yield for multiple seasons with their 365 special projects initiatives. Back in 2016 Belgium photographer Willy Vanderperre was engaged by the Milan brand to capture both. A reportage quality to the assets was created by Vanderperre capturing the behind-the-scenes energy of the runway shows along with the campaign. The shoots became an exhibition, a published book and an event with Gigi Hadid and Vanderperre signing prints and was gifted to Dazed magazine to become a feature story as well as social media content. The images are win-win for social media as they can be turned around in as little as 8 hours from shoot to post.
Yet add another challenge of shooting within confined spaces and time constraints that energizes Vanderperre.
There is something freeing about backstage projects which are mainly shot prior to the show in a short amount of time when given the freedom to experiment. There is this tension of excitement and anticipation. They are spontaneous with no direct commercial demands in the imagery.
– Willy Vanderperre
“It is also a direct and personal impression of the clothes, as you see them for the first time which is enhanced by the fact that you are alone with the models. The difficulty that lays in those projects is that you need to re-invent yourself to create something unexpected, in that limited amount of time and space to work in. Even with those restrictions, due to the electricity of the show, with the models fully wired and excited, these are always great moments.”