The Future of Luxury headed through the streets of Mayfair to talk with Matthew Williamson’s Head of Digital, Rosanna Falconer to find out more about the leading British designer’s digital strategy and what inspired their use of Vine to such great success at London Fashion Week earlier this year.
Which social platforms do you focus your attention on at Matthew Williamson?
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vine and Instagram. We launched our Twitter in October last year, on my first day in my new role, and alongside the announcement of our digital strategy. I work closely with the team, particularly for the Vine project last Fashion Week. Instagram is Matthew’s personal account where he shares the visual story of his designs and personal photo diary. It launched on 1st April and he already has more than 20,000 followers in just a month.
What would you consider one of the most innovative (digital) campaigns that Matthew Williamson has been involved in?
The #MatthewMagnified campaign with Vine garnered a lot of coverage for its use of such a new media (Vine had launched only a couple of weeks before) at a high profile event. The campaign aimed to bring our social media audience even closer than the front row. Animated imagery that zoomed in on the intricate detail of key looks was tweeted live through the new Vine app as the looks hit the runway. International backstage photographer Sean Cunningham exclusively shot the collection using Vine, in 6-second video clips which magnified in from the full look to the minute detail.
What did you particularly like about this campaign, what made it successful?
It wasn’t about tech for tech’s sake. I’m a great believer in only using digital innovation where it’s a good brand fit and not just for the sake of it because something is new and hip. Obviously there was a lot of hype around Vine back in February, but the important thing was that we were using it with an established campaign strategy – #MatthewMagnified was already a regular feature on our social media – and we wanted to take this concept further, in a dynamic way for Fashion Week. We were looking for the means to do so and it was a happy coincidence that this came together so well with Twitter and the launch of Vine.
Sean Cunningham has created incredible animated GIFs in the past for Burberry and SHOWstudio, but we wanted to find something unique for Matthew. He was inspired by #MatthewMagnified, and the idea of an image that conveys intricate detail. So we came up with our own kind of animated GIF concept, which is about being able to see closer than the front row. The issue was finding the ideal tech to show it, and Vine really was that. Better yet, being able to show over Twitter really made it all very achievable; it’s one very simple step.
It gave our followers better than ever live access to the show with a real, up-close quality. In many ways, it’s like a digital version of the re-see, which are the appointments made by press and buyers after the show to view the collection in greater detail. It’s the beadwork, the detail and the craftsmanship of the product right there.
I love the way Vine conveys such raw footage; the idea of it being Cinéma vérité, which is a French term for true-to-life documentary filmmaking. Rather than being a final polished campaign image, it’s what’s going on right now, live from backstage. It’s really special being able to capture that. Six seconds is the perfect length too – from full look to the magnified detail. Our attention span is getting ever shorter and these quick clips will show the catwalk condensed in its raw, backstage form.
There was much excitement about Google and Topshop’s Future of the Fashion Show collaboration during London Fashion Week, given the fast pace of change what do you think the fashion show of the future will look like?
The digital revolution is influencing every aspect of the industry. Take the democratisation of luxury fashion houses: the consumer has unprecedented insight into collections. Initially it was a daunting prospect for an industry accustomed to being behind closed doors, exposed only biannually to the public with a perfectly choreographed show. Now we rely on digital media so much that if a brand does not have presence online, it does not exist. The fashion consumer has developed an appetite for fast access to every aspect of a brand. A wise brand should value its online audience. And it is not just about final purchase; today, a brand’s online audience has the power to influence its reputation. The joy and success of Topshop’s Future of the Fashion Show was the power, influence and access it gave the consumer – more than ever, they are in the driving seat.
But let’s not forget human nature, we will always crave to see and be seen. The temptation of sitting at home in pyjamas watching the shows on a sofa will always be ousted for the real-life spectacle of the catwalk, and its corresponding opportunity to network.
If anything, it is the hamster-wheel show calendar that will change. The popularity of pre collections and the death of trends mean that the industry’s traditional seasonal structure is developing, and the show format will inevitably change alongside it.
Where do you weigh in on the discussion about Social Media for brands and ROI, does Social always need to directly drive sales?
The new generation most at ease on social media are the luxury consumers of the future. Perhaps it is a brand-building exercise first and foremost, and not every tweet or post will drive a sale (what an unwise strategy that would be), but this is the way we now consume content, and social shopping is the future – take sites like Motilo and Lyst, which enable people to shop together in real-time. This allows you to answer the perennial question “What shall I wear today?” from your sofa, with the help of all your friends.
Complete the following, ‘The Future of Luxury is….’
Personalised, customised and online.