Sideswipes: Building Audience Through Admiration

Monday marked the final time that the friends of Oscar de la Renta would gather under one roof. He was laid to rest as a fashion luminary in a private mass in New York City. Watching these friends come together is an interesting moment to reflect on the way de la Renta built audience.

It can be said of fashion shows in general that a passable show exhibits what will trend. The impossibly great show exhibits where the audience wants to head. Impossibly great shows project a place an audience isn't yet, but dreams they can go.

The fashion and media worlds sideswipe one another in this regard. The audience must admire you in order to stay in business. But where does admiration come from? I suspect it's from the realization that a choice was made to bypass making something passable, in order to make something inspirational.



Something passable is simply a trend -- for example, a BuzzFeed list.

Something inspirational unlocks interior, personal worlds of fantasy for us. For example, the new shapes de la Renta invented for fabric and how those draped over women’s bodies.

A few people are playing with this idea of inspiration from a media perspective in order to give brands a better shot at making places that audiences aren’t yet -- but dream of -- going.

Ditto and Piqora are scanning selfies for logos and facial cues such as smiling in order to understand a scene's context. This can reveal what people are dreaming about. Neiman Marcus is sending back similar styles to street style photos users upload. This can work as a real-time dreamcatcher.

Whether the brands involved in this insights work can realize any of it into inspirational rather than passable outcomes is the thing to watch. It’s easy to get caught connecting insights to trends and fall short of de la Renta’s gift for building audience through the admiration for bypassing the passible for something worth chasing.

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