Designers Embrace Social Media


Photo: Facebook

Burberry's Christopher Bailey thanks his three million Facebook fans.

Designers who once scoffed at Facebook and Twitter—and wrote off the multitude of style bloggers—have finally jumped on the technology bandwagon, coming to terms with how crucial social media is for the success of their companies.

New York Times scribe Cathy Horyn delves into the relevance of social networking and e-commerce when it comes to the future of fashion.

Probably the most important accomplishment for Web-resistant designers was to recognize that their customers talk to one another online; they want girlfriend advice and they want designers to listen … Customers also want more access to a designer’s world, and they want to be able to do that through their cell phones and tablets.

Horyn supports her analysis with social commerce concepts from James Gardner, the co-founder and chief executive of Create the Group, an agency that provides digital support and solutions for luxury brands such as Marc Jacobs, Burberry, Gucci, and Armani.

Mr. Gardner … said there were several new developments that fashion houses should be considering. The most important is social commerce—selling products through a social network site like Facebook. Experts expect that business to explode. As Sucharita Mulpuru, a vice president and retail analyst for Forrester Research, told Business Week, ‘It’s not natural to go to Facebook to shop—yet.’

As the Internet keeps reinventing itself, making products quicker and easier to obtain, companies are forced to optimize their Web sites and e-commerce options if they really want to remain pivotal players in the style sphere.

In February, Moda Operandi, an e-commerce site created by Aslaug Magnusdottir and Lauren Santo Domingo, will begin selling runway looks from 40 to 50 designers in New York and Europe. Consumers of high fashion often complain that they can’t find the runway styles they love. That’s because designers decide not to produce them or retailers don’t want to risk buying something too crazy or expensive.

Moda Operandi’s plan may satisfy designers and shoppers. A few days after a collection is shown on the runway, members of Moda Operandi will be given a detailed look at the clothes and accessories. Then there will be a flash sale conducted over a period of 36 to 72 hours, with items offered at full retail price.