The fashion industry is a $1.7 trillion business. Consumers purchase 19 billion items of clothing each year – a third more than they bought 13 years ago – and women are disposing of four times the amount of clothes per year than they were in 1980.
The emergence of fast fashion – low cost, mass-produced collections that mimic luxury fashion trends – sold at giant retailers like Zara, Topshop and H&M have contributed to the ‘hot now, not tomorrow’ attitude of consumers. Styles cycle in and out of stores and websites as quickly as every three weeks. The surging popularity of fast fashion retailers has seen high-end designer labels, whose price point is often tenfold that of Zara, facing an uphill battle to stay relevant, engage customers and ultimately generate sales.
For consumers, one question remains: why pay $1500 for a trench coat when a replica is available in over 2000 Zara chain stores across the world for one tenth of the price?
Despite the popularity of fast fashion stores, one luxury label has managed to dominate social media and bring their brand back from the brink. Currently, Nike, Adidas, Converse and Burberry dominate social media. While it’s easy to see how the sportswear labels, due to their widely accessible price point, have developed such a large cult following, the same can’t be said of Burberry. So how did they get there?
In 2006, marketing gun Angela Ahrendts was brought in as CEO of Burberry, with the company seeking a complete revamp of its historic brand after seeing revenue increase by only 2 per cent per year. In the first year of her reign, Ahrendts placed 60 per cent of Burberry’s marketing budget into a digital strategy, which ultimately saw the brand triple its annual sales in five years.
Know what sets you apart
The first move for Burberry was to refocus the brand on what set it apart – it was British and had a history that dated back 150 years to a single trench coat. These two features set the tone for every piece of marketing, seasonal collection, fashion show and story the brand would tell going forward.
Create an encompassing customer experience
Burberry is one of the few luxury brands that inherently understands the need to transform a brand into a diverse social platform in order to survive in a digital landscape.
In 2009, Bespoke came to life – a platform where customers design personalised trench coats, customising them right down to the buttons. Later, Artofthetrench.com was launched – a photographic platform that celebrates the iconic item and the people who wear it while giving customers their 15 minutes of fame. Harnessing the growing popularity of fashion bloggers and street-style photographers saw the user-generated content on Burberry accumulate 2.5 million visits to date.
The most recent big move from the British powerhouse was to seamlessly integrate their online and offline experience. Off the back of this, Ahrendts and her team launched London’s flagship store in 2013. The Regent Street space was to be a physical manifestation of Burberry.com. With art, entertainment and storytelling at the core of the idea, the store opened donning a 38-square-metre screen that live-streams catwalk shows and viral social media campaigns, iPads and digital screens featuring the heritage of the brand and microchip clothing that can be scanned for a background of where the garment came from.
For the future, newly appointed CEO Christopher Bailey says, “Content drives the company as a leading fashion icon.” Thanks to Burberry’s success, it now seems all too obvious what luxury brands needed. Burberry World sells you the Burberry feeling.
Perhaps it’s time Australian fashion labels listen up.
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