For a long time, the communication used by luxury brands was clearly different from the one used by the mainstream fashion companies. Since about a decade, things have changed a lot; fast fashion brands learned that they could increase their brand awareness and improve their reputation if they use similar marketing strategies as the ones of luxury brands. This analysis will shed light on some aspects that the brands have vey well incorporated in their communication strategies.
Think famous models. Already in the 50s, some of these 'high fashion' models were associated with Couture brands, like Bettina with Givenchy or Dovima with Dior and later on Claudia Schiffer with Chanel. In any case, till the beginning of the millennium, the “top models” were only working for the high-end brands. But today, you will see the supermodels posing for the luxury brands as well as for the fast fashion brands. For instance, recently, Daria Werbowy was the face of the SS14 Mango campaign whilst also modelling for the SS14 Céline campaign.
But using just the same models as the luxury brands was not enough. Hence, the fast fashion brands quickly took over the celebrity endorsements. This step of using a person's fame to further promote their products was quite smart because it is also suggesting the consumers that the fast fashion products are qualitative enough to be worn by celebrities. That is why we could see Scarlett Johansson modelling for Mango between 2009 and 2011 or Beyonce striking the pose for the Summer2013 H&M campaign after having used Kylie Minogue in 2007.
Since the creativity aspect of the fast fashion brands is often questioned – their designs are indeed mainly “influenced” by the creations of great designers or brands – they also found a way to claim for originality in asking famous fashion photographers to shoot their collection campaigns. So recently, the highly respected British photographer, Alasdair McLellan, shot the SS14 Topshop campaign as well as the SS14 menswear campaign for H&M.
Even Zara who is not known to spend a lot of money for its advertising campaigns asked Patrick Demarchelier, well-known for shooting the “Dior J’adore” campaign in 2010 with Charlize Theron, to make their SS14 campaign.
It was not the first cooperation of Demarchelier with a fast fashion brand, since he also shot the Summer 2011 campaign for H&M before. And the American, Terry Richardson, also shot the FW11 campaign for Mango with Kate Moss and the SS12 campaign for the eco-friendly collection of H&M, called the “Conscious collection”.
With the increasing importance of platforms like Youtube, the fast fashion brands are now also resorting towards famous directors to shoot their commercials. Once again, H&M was a precursor. The Swedish company asked in 2011 Guy Ritchie, director of blockbusters like “Sherlock Holmes”, to shoot the commercial for David Beckham’s underwears, which was released in January 2012. What's interesting to notice is that the English director had worked roughly one year ago with Jude Law for the 2010 “Dior Homme” commercial!
H&M also asked another famous director, Sofia Coppola, to help them promote their co-branding with Marni in April 2012. When Sofia had also just directed Natalie Portman some months ago in the “Miss Dior” commercial.
THE FASHION SHOWS
It used to be a time where the fashion shows were the luxury brands’ own turf. That was the moment where these brands could demonstrate their uniqueness and creativity and enhance their image. The mainstream fashion didn't have access these events, who with time also became more and more theatrical and costly because of the use the top models as well as their premises which had to be as exclusive as possible.
Actually, the first one to organize a highly mediatised fashion show was the American masstige brand “Victoria's Secret” in the 90s. They understood quite early the attractive power of supermodels. Today, the the most famous ones, like Adriana Lima, Doutzen Kroes or Miranda Kerr, take part to this yearly event as the “Victoria Secret angels”, viewed by over 20 million people on Facebook.
The European fast fashion brands took some time to decide to go for the same move. The first one was Etam Lingerie who organized in January 2011 their first fashion show in a quite prestigious place in Paris, the Grand Palais. The choice of this place was quite symbolic since this place had been hosting the Chanel fashion shows since 2008.
In Great-Britain, Topshop also decided to organize fashion shows in 2011 and started with the SS12 season. Now this show is considered to be a full part of the London Fashion Week, followed by millions of viewers on the social media.
As the leading worldwide fast fashion brand, H&M had to stick with this new trend among its competitors. That is why, in February 2013 they rent the Musee Rodin in Paris for one night to set up a huge tent in its garden. Exactly in the same place and in the same way as Saint Laurent (previously: Yves St-Laurent) company used to showcase its collections when Tom Ford was the artistic director of the French brand.
And this event in 2013 happened to be so successful, H&M reiterated the operation in February 2014 in Paris again but this time at the pretigious Grand Palais.
Even the smaller Spanish player, Desigual, followed this tendency in July 2012 organizing a fashion show in Barcelona. The retailer brand looked for a wider echo starring Adriana Lima for the SS14 edition. And the FW14 fashion show took place during the New York Fashion Week with the South African top Candice Swanepole.
After looking at all these elements, it is obvious that the fast fashion brands want to profile up and give a more “luxurious” image to themselves. They want to distance themselves from this image of “cheap products” bringing glamour and glitz in their advertisements. Taking over the communication codes of the luxury brands also underlines to the target customers that these retailer brands are as much fashionable as the high-end and as much desirable!
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