Major fashion brands are always trying new ways to attract attention in the marketplace. Picture: Rizqua Barnes
In their efforts to outwit the knock-off stores brands run the risk of alienating shoppers.
I’ve been having quite a difficult time with fashion lately. From the mass-production model of high-street stores to the fashion-immediacy model, more commonly known as see now, buy now, that many luxury brands have adopted, fashion has become saturated with product and imagery.

No matter where you look or which platform you subscribe to, you’re being bombarded with coats, dresses, sneakers, heels, bags, accessories, basically everything, at lightning speed - and I can’t keep up.

I don’t have the time to look at every post by a brand, especially when the same images are used on a number of platforms.

It’s already public knowledge that many high-street stores and large retailers have similar styles (what many deem “direct copies”) of luxury brands’ designs - often before the designer items are available to the public.

And while some brands have taken these stores to court, most don’t for two reasons: there isn’t much copyright law that protects clothing designs specifically and it’s a costly exercise.

A lot of brands are also afraid consumers, particularly millennials and those raised in the age of technology, are in constant search of the next “new” item.

So to counteract the theft of their designs, the loss of profit and the perpetuated fear of losing consumers to something more new and shiny, many designers have taken to the “see now, buy now” model.

Luxury brands such as Burberry, Moschino and Tommy Hilfiger have all presented collections that were immediately available online.

Which I suppose is terrific because you won’t have to wait six months for a collection to reach stores, while brands retain some hegemony over their designs as mass-production companies are unable to copy the items and ship before the original designs have even hit shop floors.

The only problem, for me at least, is that to retain a longer commercial value, brands then bombard us with endless imagery and product information for months on end.

So how is it different to the old system where constant exposure and endorsement meant consumers saw the same imagery anyway?

For one, there are a lot more channels for brands to disseminate their messages, whether that message is to buy, to spread awareness or to simply build a relationship.

But it also means the same message is distributed across a number of platforms - in magazines, on websites, via the radio and television and on social media.

And while this is important (how else would you get your message to consumers and ensure your product sells?), it also means your audience will eventually become bored with seeing the same thing over and over again.

Even with Instagram’s new algorithm which shows posts I may have missed, I still find myself scrolling past images from accounts I voluntarily followed.

Not because I don’t like their content; because I’m tired of seeing the same content.

So what’s the solution? Well, brands have already started by offering “customised service”; - personalised clothing, unique experiences et al - via their brick-and-mortar stores.

And while this is amazing (because hey, who wouldn’t want a customised jacket bearing their name?), it isn’t enough to keep shoppers happy.

The content disseminated also needs to be relevant and interesting - otherwise we millennials will simply hit that Unfollow button.

Having worked in media, researched digital media and spoken to colleagues in the industry, I think brands should start creating content specific to each platform and its audience.

After all, the middle-aged mom with four kids who loves scrolling through Facebook is not the same as the 20-something career woman who shops from her Instagram feed.

Zainab SvR
To counteract the theft of their designs many designers have taken to the “see now, buy now” model. Picture: Rizqua Barnes


Finding out who your audience is on each platform and then creating content for their needs will retain a loyal following and possibly even increase the return on investment, whatever the goal.

And once you know the type of content your audience enjoys, you can keep feeding them more of it (in small doses, mind you) without the fear of losing them to something new.

Because, in my experience, a brand that offers less in terms of output but more in quality is something worth investing my time and money in.

Adapted from www.davidandradcliffe.com.

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