At EDITD, we know how to get the fashion and tech industries to spill. You fill them with cocktails (courtesy of Johnnie Walker) and ask them probing questions, simple! So that’s exactly what we did at the second installment of Editions, our intimate events programme. With the aim of forging stronger links between the tech and fashion worlds and stirring conversation about the most relevant issues, on Wednesday evening we packed out the Biscuit Tin at London’s Shoreditch House with guests eager to hear industry experts share insight. The name of the game: (Re)Branding in the Digital Age.
Lou Stoppard – Associate Editor, SHOWstudio
Henry Holland – Designer, House of Holland
Felix Leuschner – CEO of Stylistpick
Anna Fielding – Editor of Emerald Street & Web editor of Stylist
Paula Goldstein – Online Director of Purple Magazine
First in the hot-seat was the eternally candid Henry Holland. Lou Stoppard jumped straight into picking Henry’s brains on brand building – both online and from a business angle. Holland was refreshingly honest that his brand had originated from a very commercial start-point, with ‘the t-shirts’, which he thought worked so well because they were not contrived. Although never expecting t-shirts to lead to a label, he’s found that they allowed him to enter fashion through the backdoor, building his brand whilst over-coming perceptions based on that very commercial start.
‘Fun’ was something that Holland kept returning to, whether that be anecdotally recalling his mother’s response to his school disobedience (the teachers weren’t making work fun enough!), or the wit he speaks of infusing into his brand; it was obvious Holland enjoys his work. He certainly takes to social media exuberantly, commenting that Twitter especially is about talking about yourself but in a natural way. A supporter of all things kitsch, Holland revealed his love of following the (fake) Royal family on Twitter, but draws the line at the Royal foetus! Despite claiming he has no social strategy and that he got into Twitter by “just downloading it”, Holland is conscious not to say the wrong thing on the wrong platform, and uses two Twitter accounts differently – #HenryHolland for personal and #HouseOfHolland as the face of the brand. He uses hashtag searches as a direct point of contact with consumers, and loves Instagram for its constant stream of inspiration and measure of what people are buying into. Holland reflected on the influence social platforms have over his creative process, saying that it effects his design unconsciously, that you become a sponge when you’re tapped into such channels.
Holland left us with some telling words of wisdom, arguing you don’t need to be creative to start a fashion label, what you really need to succeed is a business degree!
Next up, the panel took to the sofa as Stoppard quizzed the three thought-leaders on what they think makes a successful rebranding. Felix Leuschner, who’s built a truly innovative business centred around the consumer, emphasised the need for a brand to resemble its customer. He later came back to this, stating that the joy of e-commerce is through analytics, and the ability to tangibly understand exactly who your customer is (for Stylistpick, he reveals the average age of consumer to be 28). He revealed their early collaboration with Cheryl Cole was invaluable in helping set the tone and profile of the brand. Emerald Street’s Anna Fielding recommended a gradual change in a rebrand, with a keenness to embrace new platforms but allowing a natural evolution rather than simply jumping on a bandwagon.
Paula Goldstein referred to high end labels, particularly when the designer at the helm changes. She argued that high fashion needs to go in ‘all guns blazing’, with new designers putting their stamp and personality on the brand and citing the recent YSL changes as an example.
When discussing the unique nature of online, Leuschner highlighted that online’s reader is very visual and stressed the importance of being warm, personal but concise. That’s something Fielding agreed with, saying that online allows for informal, instant and engaging content. For Goldstein, their online site helped them overcome the struggles Purple Magazine had of being personal when they are only publishing bi-annually.
A question that brands are starting to raise is the permanency of online and the very traceable nature of every output. At Purple Magazine, Goldstein said they are in the fortunate position of having no filter on what is communicated, but is aware more corporate brands need to take greater care. Fielding spoke of the professional filter that needs to be put in place, whilst trying to strike a natural tone. She stressed the importance of proofing tweets (even those ‘spontaneous’ ones) and creating a unified brand presence. All three speakers agreed that the key to connecting is taking care to know the customer and adjusting tone across the different platforms.
Attentions then turned to networking and consuming more of those cocktails, as audience and speakers buzzed about topics raised. Another insightful Editions evening, thanks to our fantastic speakers and chair. Stay tuned for the next big event in the fashion & tech calendar!