Fashion still matters to the new generation of shoppers but, for brands, adopting a ‘style over substance’ approach to retailing is no longer enough. Consumers see more value than their predecessors in emotional empowerment – and nothing forms a stronger bond between the brand and their consumer than sharing experiences and feeling a sense of community. Because of this, brands are having to rethink their in-store and online output, with a newfound focus on building a retail environment that can satisfy the inspired (if a little distracted) minds of their target market.
In order to keep up with the consumer, brands now need to create experiences that encourage dwell time, returning footfall and maximised ROI. In an increasingly digital world, some argue we are becoming less connected in person. Fostering community is therefore more important than ever for brands. Some of them, like Under Armour, are using a combination of expertise in their field, and clever tech implementation both in-store and through specialist apps, in order to help customers ‘find their tribe.’ Others, like Everlane, use storytelling and transparency to bring like-minded conscious shoppers together, while pure player THE OUTNET.COM use editorial to encourage conversation online, but also bring engagement to life through physical market activations, that create intimate communities all over the globe.
Can the promise of new community experiences enhance consumer engagement both on and offline? Many brands seem to think so, and are going to lengths to enhance the community aspect of their businesses. Pop-up stores are on the rise, with increasing numbers of online-only brands using them as first ventures into the ‘real’ world. Kylie Cosmetics’ pop-up stores have fans queuing around the block, waiting to buy an array of non-cosmetic items as well as cult lip and eye products, while Vetements has partnered with Daft Punk to launch a LA pop-up which was functioned as both a fashion store and a street party. Even bloggers like Leandra Medine, of Man Repeller, are now taking their previously online-only brands into the ‘real world’; the first Man Repeller pop-up store opened its doors on March 1st, with Medine telling WWD it would be incredible to “bring dot-com to life, where people could come and shop, sit and read, get cool recommendations, drink a coffee and discover a new food.” No talk of fashion here, then (though there undoubtedly will be plenty) – it’s all about the community. And the best thing about community is that, once consumers feel a connection to a brand, they’re more likely to return.
Effective approaches to community require extensive innovation and insight. Join Decoded Fashion at SXSW on March 12 where THE OUTNET.COM, Pinterest and Under Armour will be talking all things community.
Heading to the Fashion House? This year we’re excited to be partnering with THE OUTNET.COM, the most fashionable fashion outlet, to bring you “What to Wear in Austin”, a handpicked wardrobe with smart and casual styles to make sure you kill it in the style stakes this year. Plus, get an extra 20% off the edit – simply enter code DECODED20 at checkout. Click here to shop the edit.
T's & C's
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Image source: Vogue