The Democratization of Fashion

A Screen Grab From Kenzo's Perfume Video

A Screen Grab From Kenzo's Perfume Video

Like the music business before it, fashion is going through an industry-wide tidal shift.  From battling the “see now buy now” trend to finding relevancy within a younger demographic, the industry has been undergoing dramatic change.  In the midst of this upheaval, fashion brands from across the spectrum are questioning why they should follow established paths. 

It used to be a simple formula that fashion houses always held runway shows during fashion week, with waif-like models trotting out the seasons’ latest styles to a room of exclusive insiders. But as Instagram and mobile phones have democratized the runway, it became more difficult for brands to have a voice when everyone has something to say about the collection. No longer does the general public have to wait for editors to provide their opinions on the clothes in monthly glossies - now anyone can check into Instagram to catch nearly-live feeds of the look of the season.  Also, these days, anyone can make a piece of content or comment on the collection, which means anyone can be a fashion editor.  

The key is creating a meaningful connection between brands and their customer base. Creating video content, especially in the form of creative short films, is a great way to tell your brands’ story without cloying advertising.  

Ermenegildo Zegna created a short film, directed by Francesco Carrozzini, with Robert De Niro and McCaul Lombardi talking about “defining moments” in their career and lives, of course while donning ever-so-dapper Zegna clothes.   Prada shot a funny short called A Therapy (2012), directed by Roman Polanski and starring Helena Bonham Carter and Ben Kingsley.  Prada clothes were like secondary characters in the film, taking a turn in the storyline just as much as the actors themselves.  

For us mere mortals, however, you don’t always need A-list talent or big budgets to make an impact.  Sometimes all it takes is a little creative subversion and a killer music cue to make some noise.  French luxury house, Kenzo did just that for their new perfume, which seeks to connect to a younger audience.  While other fashion houses are rolling out glossy images of the same faces, this is how you breathe new life into an established luxury brand:

These short films all feel like small coups of cool, innovative brand building. Because they are so far removed from regular fashion commentary, they come across more like an inside joke between the brand and its fans. Meaningful connections are really about “authenticity” and “relatability” – two words of great importance in communicating your brand today.

The team at Rosta+Tann understand the tenets of creating great content to forge meaningful connections.  Let us help you elevate your brand’s message.

Conspicuous Consumption is Out, Intangibles are the New Luxury

For as long as we can remember, designer bags, expensive watches, and other material objects were paraded around as indicators of social position and status.  But as luxury goods become cheaper and easier to produce, we’re seeing the arrival of a middle-class consumer market that demands more material goods at cheaper price points.

This democratization of consumer goods has made so-called luxury items less useful as a status symbol. Since everyone can now buy designer handbags and fancy cars, the rich have taken to more subtle signifiers of their social position. Yes, the superrich still show off their wealth with yachts and Bentleys and gated mansions, but the dramatic changes in spending come from what’s called the ‘aspirational class’. 

This ‘aspirational class’ shows off status by prizing knowledge, building cultural capital, and they spend accordingly – preferring experiences, services, education and human-capital investments over purely material goods. Rejecting flashy materialism, the rich are investing significantly more in education, retirement and wellness – all of which are immaterial, but cost more than any handbag a middle-income consumer might buy. 

While this inconspicuous consumption is extremely expensive, it shows itself through other ways like reading The Economist, buying pasture-raised eggs, or sending the kids to private preschool (and packing their lunch bags with kale and fruit instead of packaged snacks).  For the aspirational class, inconspicuous consumption choices secure a certain social status, even if they don’t outwardly display it.

Take for example Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness lifestyle company GOOP. This past weekend, over 600 guests paid between $500-$1500 to attend the company’s first wellness summit.  The price of admission included access to a day’s journey worth of services like intravenous hydration drips, crystal therapy, and even a photograph of your aura.  While many are chasing Birkin bags, the aspirational class are transforming themselves.

It seems like the ultimate luxury really is investment in one’s self.

Learn more about inconspicuous consumption here.  To see more GOOPiness, click here.