Translated by
Barbara Santamaria
Oct 16, 2020
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Adapting to the pandemic: lessons from fashion month

Translated by
Barbara Santamaria
Oct 16, 2020

Faced with the difficult task of defining the “new normal” and adjusting to the ongoing changes, the big four fashion weeks have now come and gone.

From New York Fashion Week -- which kicked-off on September 11, to Paris Fashion Week rounding out an unusual fashion month on October 8 -- fashion capitals have tried to provide answers, inventing new formats in line with current restrictions and needs.

Now the time has come to take stock, review the success of the new formats and prepare for next season. Who are the big winners in the wake of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic? Are major digital activations really more favourable than limited physical events? What are the marketing strategies that will help brands thrive in a post-pandemic world?

After monitoring online and social posts and articles, analytics specialist Launchmetrics brings a bit of clarity.

Fendi - Spring-Summer2021 - Womenswear - Milan - © PixelFormula

'Hybrid' events should continue to shape the new normal when health regulations allow, Launchmetrics has claimed. According to its latest report, brands who took the “phygital” approach, like Jason Wu, Miu Miu, Fendi and Dior, fared much better than those who privileged a purely physical or digital event. In fact, the more successful brands garnered six times more Media Impact Value (MIV) per attendee. Launchmetrics also recommends brands to rethink their voice mix, using a combination of media, celebrities, influencers, collaborations and owned media and activating each with a hyper-focused strategy.

Interestingly, influencers can be just as effective without being present, the study found. Some of the top posts from the season came from influencers who did not attend in person, but yet contributed to the overall Media Impact Value while reminding followers to tune in. And while celebrity-studded front rows have become a thing of the past, the past season has shown that models can be a valuable source for generating media impact. This means that the choice of models needs to be carefully considered, taking into account their social media influence to ensure maximum impact.

Media will always be an ally, owned media gains traction

This season, owned media moved to the forefront for many brands. Launchmetrics said that using social media accounts to share campaign content whilst simultaneously increasing post rates translated into an uptick in Media Impact Value for several labels. But firms don’t operate in a vacuum, so now it’s the time to seek out mutually beneficial partnerships and create strong campaigns that speak to the target audience. Indeed, brands who were able to maintain their MIV did so in part by leaning on their official partners. Media will always be an ally, the study claims, so it’s important to create specific content that will amplify a brand’s messages across various channels. 

Jason Wu - Spring-Summer2021 - Womenswear - New York - © PixelFormula

Despite the circumstances that prevented the staging of massive physical events at New York Fashion Week, Launchmetrics said that live events continued to play a key role during fashion month — even without real crowds in attendance. In a ranking measuring brands’ Media Impact Value, Jason Wu came out on top, having more than doubled the MIV of his February show to $3.6 million by staging a show inspired by his love for Tulum. Christian Siriano ranked second with an MIV of $3.1 million after generating strong interest from his backyard garden show in Connecticut. The show featured star model Coco Rocha, who walked the runway and shared 14 posts about the experience, garnering $280,000 in MIV for the brand. Finally, media outlets accounted for nearly 70% of placements and generated more than half of New York’s total MIV.  

Meanwhile, Instagram took the crown during London Fashion Week, which hosted a physical and digital schedule on September 15-25. The social media app was the strongest platform, with the number of posts shared by brands growing by 57%.

Additionally, Victoria Beckham generated the highest MIV at London Fashion Week, worth $9.6 million. The fashion designer hosted a “hybrid” show with both a physical event (attended by her famous family, who have helped drive media buzz in the past) and a digital screening. The event also benefited from a collaboration with Tiffany & Co which saw the designer wear items from jeweller’s new TiffanyT1 collection during her presentation and in a sponsored post.

Miu Miu - Spring-Summer2021 - Womenswear - Paris - © PixelFormula

At Milan Fashion Week, influencers saw a decrease in numbers but big names like Chiara Ferragni had some of the highest ranked posts overall. Notably, the Italian influencer generated the most impact ($461,000 in MIV) despite skipping the shows this year by sharing one of her favourite looks from Fendi. Fendi came also first in the Milan ranking with a total MIV of $13 million, helped by a 59% increase in owned media posts. Buzz-worthy models also helped increase influencer voice, with Taylor Hill walking the runway for Etro and Irina Shayk representing Versace. Donatella Versace’s brand generated enormous buzz worth $11 million thanks to its Versacepolis campaign, with the hashtag alone generating $6.5 million in MIV. Additionally, the designer label was praised for featuring plus-size models, boosting its MIV further.

The last of the big four fashion weeks took place in Paris from 26 September to 8 October, with Dior once again emerging as the most influential brand followed by Louis Vuitton and Chanel. While the overall Media Impact Value of PFW decreased compared with the previous season, these three brands managed to see an increase, particularly Nicolas Ghesquière’s marque, which nearly doubled its performance.

Dior’s influencer strategy focused more on “quality” than “quantity”, resulting in a 25% decrease in placements but a 40% increase in MIV thanks to collaborations with influencers like Valentina Ferragni and Karen Wazen. Miu Miu enjoyed a dramatic increase, with its Media Impact Value up by 125% when compared with last season. Owned Media was a major contributor, fuelled by an increase in the number of placements from 40 posts to 124 and a renewed influencers and celebrities strategy that generated up to $2 million in MIV with 140 placements. The most valuable placement was from actress Gabrielle Union, who didn't even attend in person.

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