The Decoded Fashion Forum was held this past Monday at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. A fabulous event focusing on “connecting the world’s best startups and most noteworthy technologies to accelerate innovation and increase the bottom line,” it brought together masterminds from all over the fashion tech world.
Here’s our recap of the themes currently present in this space that we found organically linked throughout each panel. Enjoy.
You must emote.
Whether it’s a VC feeling your enthusiasm and belief in your own idea through your pitch, your user feeling ease and clarity as she taps through your mobile app, or your customer feeling a personal tie to your brand and its message–that true emotion can’t be faked. During the Consumer-Driven Content panel, Carla Dunham (the Senior Director of Social Media at Saks) said, “if you’re putting content out there that doesn’t make the audience feel, then you’re just not a fashion brand.” Melisa Goldie, EVP & Chief Creative Officer of Calvin Klein, said during her keynote that “it’s not about getting customers to click the like button–it’s about getting customers to click with the product.” This all originates from a true understanding of your brand’s identity and in developing engagement through the creation of content that is authentically valuable to your customer–then, just as importantly, by following up with conversation. Ari Goldberg, founder and CEO of StyleCaster, reminded us of this when he said, “In new media, conversation is king.”
Power to the people.
From personalization to curation, we’re putting power into the consumers’ hands. Geoff Watts, co-founder of EDITD, made a great observation while discussing uber-personalization during the Analytics panel when he noted that “we gotta make sure we’re not creepy!” While, yes, steering clear of “creepy” is vital, creating a uniquely personal experience for your users is, too. Nina Cherny, co-founder of Stylyt, put it perfectly when she commented during the Consumer-Powered Design panel that “becoming a part of creation and curation lets users become evangelists of your movement.” This is a win-win situation—giving power to the user and letting her feel like an integral part of the process not only boosts engagement, but it will boost your company as a result. Karen Gryga, CEO of FashInvest said, “Offline retail is driven on a geographic basis. Online retail is driven on an interest basis.” Truth.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: go mobile.
Ari Goldberg came right out with it during the Consumer-Powered Design panel with his statement that “mobile is the future.” “Social media is changing the way content and commerce are related,” according to Amy Cole of Instagram; the way in which mobile provides us with that immediate and constant connection to our networks is a huge factor. Stacey Bendet, designer of alice + olivia, mentioned that right after launching their mobile site, mobile began accounting for 22% of all online sales. As mobile concentration escalates, both other aspects mentioned above–creating an emotional engagement and putting the power in the users’ hands–will be supplemented by the immediacy and the direct relationships that mobile offers.
In the end, though, David Karp (the founder of Tumblr) found a way to sum it all up with the following: “Push boundaries, blow minds.” I’d say, he would know.
Jess Surbaugh is Third Wave Fashion’s Digital Content Editor.