If one were to retrace the instance when the fashion and digital worlds collided in an epoch defining moment, it would be in 2008 when Dolce & Gabbana sat four renowned bloggers – Bryanboy, Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist, Tommy Ton of Jak & Jill and Garance Dore – in the front row of its Spring 2010 womenswear show among prominent journalists like Vogue’s Anna Wintour and the International Herald Tribune’s Suzy Menkes. It put bloggers on par with two of fashion’s most powerful names, and was the strongest validation yet of the growing clout bloggers yielded.
Today, luxury fashion brands are leveraging on technologival advances by complementing their bricks-and-mortar shopping experiences with more convenient digital ones, while at the same time engaging an entire generation of savy consumers on social media sites. This development has allowed fashion-conscious men to browse online style destinations while at work, or tweet their latest must-haves and share their stylish day-to-day ensembles on social networking apps like Instagram while on the fly. Hurried visits to the mall for last minute buys are a thing of the past in an era where purchases can be made with a simple tap on your smartphone or tablet screen.
Moving forward, brand websites, engagement on major social media platforms and compatibility on smartphones and other devices have evolved and developed into digitally integrated service platforms for luxury fashion houses. As fashion and technology function like an arranged marriage rather than a passionate courtship for some brands, we pick out three contenders who have figured out what is right for them and relevant to their audience. They have taken the leap from pet tech project to coherent multi-platform digital innovators.
Dolce & Gabbana – Social Kingpins
Since its watershed moment in 2009, the duo behind the label has gone on to pioneer a slew of digital initiatives. Besides being the first luxury fashion brand to have a mobile website in 2004, live-stream a fashion show in 2005 and via mobile devices in 2009. With a global site that was re-launched in 2011 to offer free shipping to 33 countries, shopping in seven languages, an extensive inventory of men’s and women’s collections, the site thrusts visitors into glamorous ethos of the Italian label. The brand experience is further amplified across media platforms, including an app that integrates content from Facebook, Twitter, and an in-house online magazine, Swide. Also striking to note, the brand has three Twitter accounts to engage its fans on multiple levels: Steffano Gabbana’s personal account provides insight into his personal lifestyle while the official brand’s and young insider’s accounts offer fashion-centric information.
Gucci – United Front
Since making its foray into digital world with e-commerce in 2002, Gucci has broadened its digital horizons with new tools, platforms and a focus on content creation strategies such as a specially designed Facebook tabs, a site-search upgrade on its YouTube channel and additional social networks such as Douban and Facebook Korea. However, the key digital ingredients thus far have been Gucci Style and Gucci Connect. Gucci Style is an IOS (Apple’s proprietary mobile operating system) magazine that offers creative editorial content, fashion stories, and an integrated live feeds from its social networks (among other interactive custom content) in eight different languages. Meanwhile, Gucci Connect takes live-streaming to the next level by integrating multiple platforms with video technology – online, social networking and runway shows. The seamless integration of social media platforms with marketing and communication coupled with a commitment to elevate the digital-savvy consumer in a direct, content-rich manne makes Gucci digital strategy exemplary.