If we’d talked five years ago, it might have been to convince you of the value and influence of bloggers. Fortunately, we’re beyond that now and well aware that blogs are no longer just visited by those working in fashion or with a penchant for designer wares – they’re a mainstream consumer pastime. Bloggers have fronted brand ad campaigns: Susie Lau for Gap and Pretty Ballerinas, Hanneli Mustaparta for Net-a-Porter and Rag & Bone, and Liberty London Girl for Hunter. Bloggers sell books: Yvan Rodic of Facehunter and The Sartorialist‘s Scott Schuman. Heck, bloggers even design collections – take Garance Doré at Kate Spade, for example.
Brands and retailers have tapped into the power of blogs, introducing them to retail sites, well aware that their consumers like content to validate their buying decisions. More recently, however, brands have been using the visual styles of bloggers in their marketing and merchandising. We’re talking about those ‘here’s a shot of everything in my handbag’ layouts or Polyvore-style ‘what I’m wearing today’ edits. So we had a look at how successful these visual merchandising tactics are.
Burton excel with this – not only do they have a great blog, which is rare for a menswear retailer, but their email newsletters fly. Take their ‘Sunday Style Edit’ from the 28th October with its stylised flat layout of rust coloured items. Of the fourteen sizes of the featured £25 tapered twist seam bronze chinos, five sizes sold out within days of the email campaign. The charcoal jacquard jumper sold through in five of it’s six sizes too. Another visual merchandising method Burton employ successfully is using staff to model items in the range. The ‘Blazer Edit’ from the 16th September features Simon in a navy twill slim fit blazer and offers styling suggestions. In a little over two weeks after the email went out, all five sizes were sold out.
Fellow Arcadian retailer Topshop are onboard with the VM trend too. Their weekly ‘Topshop Edited’ emails are pulled together by guest stylists or staff members (who are always named, a nice touch). As with the Burton selections, these garments are photographed flat to the page and often build an outfit. The 23rd October newsletter featured a £150 leather sleeve biker coat and a £35 contrast trim skater skirt. Within six days of the email, the skirt had seen total sell out and since being restocked has already sold through again. The pricier jacket sold out of three of its sizes within two weeks. This isn’t an exception for Topshop, we can view each ‘Edited’ email they’ve sent with our Visual Merchandising database and see sell throughs occurring frequently, across price points and product categories.
So outside of Arcadia, who is using the style of VM? River Island‘s emails are often outfit-building selections, but they went as far as calling it an ‘Edit’ for their new season newsletter on the 7th September. Four of the six featured garments sold out swiftly, the fastest being a £35 dipped hem dress selling out of all sizes in a week.
Interestingly, it’s not just high street retailers that win with this style of VM. Lux e-tailer Net-a-Porter tap into street style hunger too. Their 6th October ‘The Street Style Verdict’ newsletter saw the fashion director pulling outfits together based on popular street style images. The Jil Sander varsity jacket it featured sold through in three of the seven sizes in stock when the newsletter went out, despite its £1,130 price tag. Just a coincidence? The newsletter also featured the Proenza Schouler ‘statement skirt’, priced at £2,620. It sold out of two of the three in stock sizes by the 15th October. Not bad going!
And the US market is responsive too. J.Crew do visual exceptionally well, so of course were ahead with the latest VM trend. Their website features ‘Looks we love’, shopping edits styled by Gayle, their head stylist and fashion director, with a 25th October newsletter announcing the new section on the site. The $598 tweed coat dress only remains in stock in two of 8 sizes despite having only arrived online 11 days ago. An even faster sell out was seen for the taupe capri pants at $398. They stayed in stock a mere 9 days!
So the story here is that customers respond well to blogging references, whether that be through homage to street style imagery, or edited outfit selections. The online fashion world is vast – these suggestions cut through the mystifying assortment and presented as they are, carry the kind of clout associated to influential fashion bloggers. Creating brand transparency by having members of staff involved helps consumers put a name to their influencer, softens the marketing and furthers the illusion.
You can quote us if you like. At EDITD, we recommend editing.