Attitude Vs. Ego
Technology is revolutionizing fashion, retail, beauty and luxury. These communities have expanded to allow anyone to offer commentary, display designs, distribute retail goods or communicate their ideas. Social media has led the way for young dreamers and new competitors who seek to participate in the discussion.
The amateurs coerce freshness from old perspectives, forgoing ego in lieu of id to offer novel ideas -- performing on a global, digital stage that offers an instant audience.
The Internet has magnified our knowledge of these industries. We see clearer, faster, as we participate -- potentially making our voices a designer's worst critic. Retail must embrace this change as the wall between design and consumer has been removed.
Can Do Vs. Have Done One can no longer keep secrets from the media. While some retailers and designers praise accessibility, Tom Ford recently made this approach blasé. Under a veil of secrecy, Ford hosted a fashion show at his Madison Avenue menswear store where his friends -- Julianne Moore, Rita Wilson, Marisa Berenson, Daphne Guinness, Beyonce and It-Girl models Amber Valletta, Daria Werbowy and Liya Kebede -- sashayed his runway.
Ford allowed just 100 journalists at the showing, where he spoke knowingly about his models. Cameras, except Fords', were forbidden, to prevent streaming his designs. Ford cleverly created buzz by distancing his collection from the force designers use to create buzz -- the Internet.
Vision Vs. History What caused fashion shows to go viral? Isn't a fashion show like a movie, book or work of art? Would you expect a director to produce six Oscar-worthy films a year? A virtual fashion show allows designers to stream their art real-time. How this condensed experience compares to the real thing is like asking whether emotions can be felt via email. You would be surprised at the range of responses based on the individual's age.
Buyers no longer visit stores to feel fabrics and see merchandise; they number-crunch and view textures on a computer screen. The collections are never-ending. Some designers, like Christopher Bailey of Burberry, have the vision to take their art mass. They know how to press Refresh and are praised for their technological savviness. Others, like Alber Elbaz of Lanvin, are self-declared romantics -- cherishing traditional beauty and fashion. The question is not whether such experiences go on the Internet, but how to perfect the formula to give the world a sense of your art, and make it feel personal.
Dialogue Vs. Monologue
Many companies are opening up their offices. While the corner office still has a view, the CEO has joined the group, maybe even sitting next to an intern. This dynamic creates a dialogue, which allows newcomers to lend a fresh perspective to leadership. The CEO monologue has dimmed, replaced by a constant conversation about the state of the industry.
New Vs. Known
How do well-known brands engage consumers today? Look at Estee Lauder, TAG Heuer, Chanel or Dior. Universal brands must remain relevant to a younger audience, which prefers the newest and latest.
Endorsements link celebrities, musicians, models, to brands, which best represent their personality. As individual become the face of a brand, consumers see the product and think of the A-lister. Julie Roberts is linked to Lancome; Leonardo DiCaprio with TAG; Lady Gaga is MAC's new It-Girl. These brands remain compelling because their ambassadors effectively engage the consumer.
Brand stewardship must remain at the forefront. People crave compelling stories -- so tell one through the brand. Invite consumers to become brand ambassadors. Once they join your community, they will fight for you, especially if you make it as easy as a click of the mouse.