5 key takeaways from our webinar: How do fashion brands become known today? – a buyer’s perspective
In the age of accelerating digitalization, a global pandemic, travel restrictions, shifting social media algorithms, hybrid fashion weeks, and everything in between, how does an emerging brand make its mark while still keeping a sense of purpose and control over its brand journey? Fashion buyers are responsible for predicting future trends and choosing what is sold in stores in order to generate the largest profits. They play a big role in the discovery of new brands and putting them on the map for consumers. They also often work alongside marketing teams to help decide which products to promote to customers. Constantly collaborating on content to make sure that the stores are highlighting bestsellers and pushing products that aren’t selling so well.
So what approach do fashion brands need to take to grab a buyer’s attention? And what type of content do fashion buyers need to drive sales? We defined the new brand journey and gathered best practices from expert fashion buyers, Kevin Kafesu, Head of Strategic Buying and Communication at Norse Projects, and Hannes Wellander, Menswear Buyer at Strøm, on how to navigate a fragmented media and digital landscape. Here are the 5 main takeaways of our webinar – « How do fashion brands become known today? – a buyer’s perspective » for you here:
1. The internet has completely changed the game in terms of brand discovery:
Hannes: The Internet has changed everything. 10 years ago at the dawn of social media, you used it for communication. Now you use it for inspiration and the brands that do their content really well and seamlessly, you follow them no matter if you decide on buying their products are not. Nowadays I can be reached in spite of the product.
Kevin: We went from being on/using social media to share and communicate with your friends, and share your instant moments. Now it has become a hybrid tool that people use to communicate and promote products and values of a certain brand, and with the abundance of brands, there are so many players now trying to get their message across. Influencers have become advocates for brands to communicate and stand for values.
For us, the online tool has become a great way to access new brands, learn about them, and communicate with them. Today a brand needs to be great at everything, but it is quite tough because there is a lot of information you have to filter. The internet has changed the game completely.
2. Fashion buyers now discover brands through the cross combination of many different channels:
Hannes: Before we used to go to a lot of different trade shows in Paris, Florence for example, and we would discover a lot of new brands. In the last couple of years, I can’t remember the last time I discovered a brand that I haven’t seen before on Instagram, or online. This is the nature of the job; we do a lot of research whether we like it or not and the internet made us more prepared as buyers.
Kevin: Now it’s a cross combination of Instagram and media coverage online. It’s intuitive and organic. Every morning I refresh online media such as Hypebeast, Complex, and High Snobiety, figure out brands from their Instagram and search for information about the fabrics and their production.
3. Fashion brands can present their collections and create a great brand experience digitally:
Kevin: Aura Lee is a Japanese brand we recently bought directly online without an initial physical presentation. Unfortunately, the brand had its show in Tokyo and I couldn’t be present because of the lockdown in place in Japan. I was following Aura Lee for a couple of years and figuring out how to actually start this collaboration was tricky.
The brand is all about the fabrics, so for me, it was important to touch and feel them. Fortunately, these guys were sending out fabric swatches, alongside the whole online collection, catwalk videos, fitting imagery, product descriptions, and size charts which allowed you to gauge how are these clothes going to fit. I got this 360 sensory experience about how it is with the whole collection. You can potentially say this is the new way of doing it.
Hannes: We also bought a new brand during the pandemic called Rohe Frames, it’s a relatively new Dutch brand. They have been in the business for a long time. This was a cold call, normally we receive so many emails. What actually did it, is that their online universe was so coherent and well presented, that you immediately got what they were doing. Branding, styling, communication, they sent us fabric swatches and we got the feel for it.
You need a level of trust especially when you buy a brand for the first time. The way you communicate is important. An established digital presence is key, the brand needs to come in with a lot of visibility and brand awareness.
4. Providing the content is key to building a good relationship for post and pre-sales:
Kevin: We need to calculate our return on investment when we create our own unique content. We have a small team, on a lot of the products that have a lot of turnover for instance: limited edition sneakers, we use the content directly from the supplier because the turnout is so fast. But for the bigger brands, we buy a lot from, then we actually do editorial content through our lenses. But for all the fast pace products we usually rely on assets provided by the brands directly. Pack-shots, product descriptions, etc… Which we then obviously amend to our tone of voice, but all that stuff is important.
When you are working six months ahead, we want these assets already so when the product arrives. It’s just plug-in and play. Dropbox is not always ideal because it’s folders amongst folders, but at least everything from pack shots to campaign images, and product descriptions, is there for us to use.
Hannes: We are usually looking for a partnership for the long term. Content is a big factor, images are key and storytelling is really important for our newsletters fx. It needs to be coherent and if the brand universe is clear, that makes it easier for us to repurpose, and it’s also easier for us to translate into our own universe.
5. The best and worst ways to share content:
Hannes: Some brands are still stuck 10 years ago, they provide you with a physical lookbook and then it’s done and there is no digital game at all. The brand being invested with content sharing is a great service.
The worse experience I had was during the pandemic; a French brand had a person run around the showroom with their phone to show you the collection, which got me very dizzy after 2 hours.
Kevin: It’s the whole red thread, the high would be a window activation, digital, and staff uniform. Dress top key sales associate in the product that coincides with the window display and the digital campaign. Asics for instance has a platform to inform you about digital assets available nearly every other day. That little tool is great because you can share it with the marketing team and get everything prepped in advance ready for selling.
4 types of content you need to provide to your retailers/buyers:
1. Images: Pack-shots, campaign images, images cropped for different social media channels
2. A story: Brand or collection story
3. Videos: Catwalks and brand campaigns
4. Product descriptions: Size charts, prices, colors, and materials
Meet our experts
Hannes Wellander – Menswear Buyer at Strøm
Originally from Sweden, Hannes has been working as a menswear buyer for several independent multibrand stores in Copenhagen for the past 15 years, including Pede & Stoffer, Goods, and now STRØM.
Kevin Kafesu – Head of Buying at Norse Projects
Kevin is the Head of strategic Buying and Communication at Norse Projects. He worked for brands including renowned knitwear brands Andersen-Andersen and Wood Wood, both in a Retail and Marketing capacity.
Let’s get digital
Digitalization is at the forefront of the conversation about what is changing in the fashion industry. The need for brands to have an online presence and operate business digitally has been continuously rising, especially over the past few seasons. Meeting and sharing content online became even more integral for brands due to the restrictions we have collectively experienced during the pandemic, but the trend of brands moving into a more digital universe had been occurring before this. This shift is undoubtedly changing the blueprint and make-up of industry events, shows, and fairs. Learn more about the VOCAST image bank feature here: https://vocast.com/digital-showroom.
Ines is the Research and Marketing Manager at VOCAST. She previously worked in the beauty industry and is now an expert in social media and digital marketing. Every day she helps design-driven brands navigate digital trends and carry out their marketing and brand strategies effortlessly.