by MIKE CHAIKEN
Set aside the fantasy and get real.
That was the consensus of a webinar panel “Fashion is Empowerment and Inclusivity,” about fashion in a post-COVID-19, post-Black Lives Matter world.
The panel was held as part of the online fashion event, Fashinnovation.
The panel consisted of fashion designers Rebecca Minkoff and Tanya Taylor; E! Entertainment founder and host Lilliana Vazquez; and Jessica C. Andrews, deputy fashion editor for Bustle.
Once the pandemic took hold, Taylor said “everything changed” for the fashion industry.
“The last six months have really challenged everything (the fashion industry does), which is a good thing,” said Taylor.
“Fashion isn’t about making things anymore,” said Taylor.
These days, Taylor said, fashion brands have to be conscious about price points. Brands also need to think about comfort for consumers.
“It’s no long fantasy,” said Taylor of fashion. Fashion has to be rooted in the now, which is a world impacted by COVID-19.
“We don’t have the occasions to wear $5,000 dresses, we want to look cute in PJs,” said Vazquez.
Vazquez said consumers are no longer looking toward an aspirational world in fashion and the media. People have become less interested in celebrities living in million dollar homes now that everyone is suffering. They want to hear about news surrounding Black Lives Matter.
“Fashion being elitist is so old school,” said Andrews. “We need to democratize it.”
Influencers need to pivot away from the aspirational content that helped build their careers, said Vazquez.
Consumers want the real world and they want their influencers to convey honesty, said Vazquez.
“It’s about how you conduct vulnerability to consumers,” said Vazquez. “It’s more important to appear vulnerability.”
“You have to be authentic and honest,” said Andrews, “that’s how we make that connection.”
Finding influencers embracing their vulnerability has “made Instagram, for me, such a better experience,” said Vazquez.
Part of the reality of 2020 is changing the way the fashion industry does its business, panelists explained.
Minkoff said her business shrunk by 70% when the virus hit. Wholesalers started cancelling orders.
To survive, Minkoff said she had to shift her business strategy. She had to strengthen the brand’s relationship to consumers using Instagram and podcasts. This helped make the relationship with consumers feel more intimate, she explained.
“No one would have made a strategy out of this,” said Minkoff of her change in approach.
Taylor also had to adapt the brand’s lookbooks for a post-COVID-19 world where fashion photo shoots are not possible.
“We thought people wanted perfect lookbooks,” said Taylor. But due to the pandemic, she said the brand decided to compile a lookbook using friends wearing its new clothes. The clothes would be shipped to the friends, who in turn submitted self-shot photographs.
“It was so perfect,” said Taylor. “It was so fun and it was a perfect representation of who (the subjects) are,” said Taylor.
The lookbook was a hit, said Taylor. And it cost a fraction of what the brand typically spends on a lookbook, said Taylor.
Andrews said of Taylor’s lookbook, “I love that shift, more pared down where the personality (of the consumers) shines through.”