By: Alexandra Closser (@AlexandraCloss1)
Your iPhone 8 sounds its signature alert as a new email enters your inbox. As you enter your passcode to read it, you secretly hope it is your favorite fashion brand (Free People in my case!) announcing its latest collection.
Much to your surprise, the e-newsletter is comprised of various looks from their spring collection. You heard that right—SPRING. As you glance outside at the snowstorm and remember the wind chill advisory warnings, you cannot believe your eyes. Skirts. Sundresses. BATHING SUITS. Oh my!
While it may come as a surprise to have sundresses on your mind while you are reaching for your parka, the preparation behind fashion brands and their new season launch campaigns is much like a public relations mindset.
If anyone considers themselves a fashion lover, they would have a love for the movie, The Devil Wears Prada, and an even deeper love for the iconic quotes scattered throughout. One of my favorites from the film is when Meryl Streep, starring in the lead role of Miranda Priestly, is attending a meeting discussing spring collection ideas. As one associate shares her idea of having florals be a part of the collection, Miranda quickly shoots her down in the most sarcastic, dry voice (I cringe every time!) by saying, “Florals? For Spring? Groundbreaking.” While this quote is iconic in this film, I believe it is essential to follow in everyday PR, as the public relations team is the eyes and ears of the public and should work toward generating ideas for campaigns that truly are groundbreaking.
The trends from the latest Free People collection are more than just The Devil Wears Prada’s famous Meryl Streep quote. They themselves, and their reveal, are planned far deeper than a dress with a flower print.
The art of releasing a campaign has been mastered by fashion brands by sending alerts through digital (e-newsletters through email) or physical (magazines in your mailbox) mediums. The PR success of fashion brands specific to each season, comes with an array of aesthetically-pleasing visuals for its consumers which creates a desire to gain the lifestyle presented. And let’s not forget about social. The amount of reach that brands extend toward their fashion lover, through social platforms, is outstanding. At this point, everything can be done through social platforms. Fashion lovers, like myself, can log onto Instagram, scroll through their feed to see their brand of choice’s most recent post, and buy what the model is sporting. With features such as Like2Buy, shoppers are able to welcome much loved pieces from their brand of choice into their very own closet—with the tap of a finger.
Miranda would not be overly impressed with a fashion brand simply releasing its collection through social and calling it a day. She would sarcastically call it “groundbreaking” and move on. Consumers nowadays are much like Miranda and demand more. Brands must release their fashion campaigns to the next level with the use of hashtags, interactive videos, and events.
Brands such as Free People use social to their advantage with interactive posts that coincide with each of their collections. If you were to tune into their Instagram stories today, you would find instructors showcased in individual stories sporting fashions from their FP Movement collection, paired with the campaign’s hashtag “#FPLETSMOVE” announcing dates for upcoming fitness events, sponsored by Free People, taking place in Denver, New York, Los Angeles and Miami. Campaigns such as #FPLETSMOVE allow relationships to form with the brands’ public. Shoppers are able to learn about and attend the fitness event while sporting the very same Free People apparel that the Free People exclusive trainer was rocking when they first learned of the event. Using social is one thing; but using social in its own groundbreaking, interactive way for a fashion brand is cutting edge.
The world as we know it is growing more fast paced by the day, creating the need for a fast turnaround in every aspect. When it comes to the fashion consumer, once they become accustomed to receiving alerts for the spring apparel and accessories in the dead of winter, they crave new services in preparation for each season’s trends. In addition to Free People, one of its carriers, Nordstrom, is on the up-and-up when it comes to exceeding consumer experience through futuristic practices. In order to set themselves apart from other retailers, Nordstrom has released a service this new year that allows its customers to not only pick up items in-store, but to have items pre-selected through the Nordstrom app waiting for them to try on upon arrival. This futuristic campaign called “Reserve Online & Try in Store” is centered on futuristic convenience, appealing not only to Nordstrom’s core public, but to other retailer’s public as well, driving business towards the more innovative retailer.
It is so very important for fashion brands and retailers alike to focus on their public and create campaigns and strategies to boost interest of all parties involved through both a physical and virtual presence. For instance, this winter break has been filled with trips to the mall (which isn’t so bad!), and while I am browsing, I never fail to strike up conversations with sales associates. During a conversation with a Nordstrom sales representative, Nordstrom’s brand was brought up, and the gentlemen shared how he absolutely loves being affiliated with Nordstrom. He went on to say that the chain, as a whole, exceeds all other retailers of its kind due to constant innovation. As a former employee of Neiman Marcus, he stated that due to its pattern of sticking to outdated practices like last season’s designer duds, Neiman Marcus has no chance of competing with a brand like Nordstrom. The drastic difference between the way Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus operate is proof perhaps that every brand needs its own Miranda Priestly, a devil with a hot poker turning up the heat on the competition. He then went on to share his favorite aspect of the company which happened to be the new “Reserve Online & Try in Store” feature. This sort of genuine promotion that took place from a brand’s interior public to its exterior is a sure indication of its success.
Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking.
While it may seem like common sense that a spring collection would follow the winter season and sweaters would be ditched, the behind-the-scenes magic of strategies and tactics used to build brands through campaigns truly is groundbreaking (and not in Miranda’s sarcastic tone either!). If every PR professional had a drop of Miranda’s dry sarcasm in his/her conscience when creating campaigns, the drive to go above and beyond what is typical for a brand would exceed all expectations.
Public Relations? In fashion? Groundbreaking.
Alexandra is a junior studying Advertising and Public Relations with a minor in Writing. She is a member of Grand Valley State University’s PRSSA chapter. When she is not shopping or scrolling through her social feeds, she is spending time with her family and friends. She dreams of a career that embodies all that she loves.