Archive | May, 2011

Urban Outfitters and the power of Twitter tribes

31 May

I’ve been seeing tweets, news articles and comment about the necklace Urban Outfitters reportedly ripped off (as pictured above) from a Chicago-based designer called Stevie, for several days. What I hadn’t realised was that the story had originally gone viral off the back of one tweet.

Amber Karnes, a fellow crafty, wrote on Thursday: “I think it’s time to boycott Urban Outfitters. They have done this to so many independent artists. NOT OK

Despite the fact Karnes had little more than 1,000 followers at the time, that post travelled around the world within a matter of hours. The Huffington Post picked it up, so did Miley Cyrus. UO pulled the item from its website and its stores.

If anyone needed confirmation of the power of Twitter, it doesn’t get much better than this. The whole thing is comprehensively reported in Karnes’ post-tweet analysis.

What I love particularly, is her reference to tribes:

In his book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, Seth Godin explains that you only need 1,000 true fans to make a living. That the secret of success is no longer in mass appeal, but in niche. In the tight knit group of a network. Today’s Twitter craziness was all about that.

I am not a Twitter celebrity by any means. I barely had over 1,000 followers when the day began and I’m pretty sure about 200 of those are spam-bots. What I do have – and the reason that my call for a boycott on Urban Outfitters spread so fast and wide – is a tribe. A tight knit group of independent artists and crafters that follow me. My cause resounded with them. They spread it, and their friends spread it, and a few big influencers on Twitter spread it, and then it was gone.

When I worked as the webmaster (and often-shouted-down social media champion) at Fortune 500 railroad Norfolk Southern, I had a hard time explaining this concept. Their PR heads would say, “Why should a big corporation worry about cultivating a relationship with some railfan who only has 600 followers? Shouldn’t we go after the big ones? These little nobodies can’t do us any damage.” Well, today proved the opposite. Urban Outfitters is trending not because they have a great new line coming out, but because of a PR nightmare. Because one “nobody” put up a tweet about a crafter that had been wronged. And her tight little tribe of crafters responded.



Digital snippets: Rent the Runway, MAC and Lady Gaga, Links of London

27 May

Some more great stories from around the web surrounding all things fashion and digital this week:

  • How e-commerce is luring top editorial talent on both sides of the pond [WWD]
  • Dress hire service Rent the Runway gets $15m backing from venture capital firm KPCB [Reuters]
  • MAC and Lady Gaga team up for interactive Glam This Way campaign [Us]
  •, Asia’s answer to Net-a-Porter? [CNN]
  • KPMG report shows China’s luxury consumers get their information online [The Independent]
  • Insights from Links of London’s gnome-themed multichannel treasure hunt of 2010 [Luxury Daily]

Fabergé to launch art journal iPad app

26 May

Nijinsky and the Diamonds, Mir Fabergé

Luxury jewellery house Fabergé is set to launch an iPad app in the form of an art journal centred around its world past and present.

‘Mir Fabergé’, as it’s called, is inspired by Mir Iskusstva, an art journal and movement founded by Sergei Diaghilev of the Ballet Russes at the turn of the 20th century.

Key to Russia’s Silver Age, it “sought a reinvigoration and synthesis of the arts, be it literature, music, art or poetry”, read the notes. Influences were found too from artistic friends including Leon Bakst and Coco Chanel, while content spanned from noble to peasant culture.

Now, the Mir Fabergé app, which launches on June 16, likewise brings together a wide variety of artists, following in the footsteps of founder Peter Carl Fabergé’s vision.

His great-granddaughter, Tatiana Fabergé, said: “My great grandfather believed in working with people from all the creative fields – from designers and goldsmiths to artists (including miniaturists), from engravers to enamellers to stonecutters and sculptors. His creations would not have been possible without such a philosophy. All of the world of art both inspired and influenced his creative vision.”

Included are photographers, directors, film makers, actors, dancers, artists, illustrators, composers, writers, costume designers and Fabergé experts.

Between them they have created six stories about the brand, its legacy, its infamous eggs, its founder and his clients such as ballet legend Vaslav Nijinsky.

Ashton Kutcher the tech investor

26 May

There’s an interesting piece on the New York Times’ technology pages today about actor Ashton Kutcher as “a smart early investor in some of the most-talked about internet start-ups”.

Off the back of his appearance at TechCrunch Disrupt earlier this week, it references the fact he has capital in companies ranging from Foursquare and Path, to Skype, Flipboard and most recently Airbnb.

“I have a bunch of interesting and really smart people that I sit with and talk to quite frequently because of the investments I’ve made, and between their networks and mine, I get to see things really early,” he said.

The piece also references his involvement on a creative level: “He has been known to drop into General Assembly, a co-working space in Manhattan that is the home of one of his investments, the fashion site Fashism. He advised Path on ways to let users comment and give feedback on each others’ photos.”

Well worth a read: An Actor Who Knows Start-Ups

John Frieda to stream live styling event

25 May

John Frieda is set to launch a live styling event later this week marking its biggest digitial marketing investment to date, according to Brand Republic.

Through, the haircare brand will stream a one-hour Live Haircare Academy on May 27 at 1pm (GMT). Consumers will be able to ask the salon experts questions throughout, while beauty bloggers will be in contact via webcam.

Caroline Wilding, product and digital marketing manager at parent company Kao Brands, said: “For our target market we know how important the digital space is in driving deeper relationships with our consumers.”

The event aims to reach 1.3m consumers through its campaign. It is being pushed via Facebook and Twitter, as well as print ads.

The concept was conceived by creative agency Brave. It is being overseen by PR company The Communications Store and digital agency Holler.

Social media’s role at luxury t-shirt label LnA

24 May

I recently interviewed Lauren Alexander, co-founder and creative director of luxury t-shirt label LnA.

The piece was based on the role of celebrity in driving sales for new labels (LnA, established in 2007, now counts among its fans everyone from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, to the Beckhams and the Kardashians), but Alexander also had a couple of interesting points to make about digital.

In what could now be referred to as a heavily crowded market, finding any success with social media comes down to doing something that stands out, she said.

“Social media is so important to us, it has become a huge part of what we do… but I think now you kind of have to be creative with it. There’s so many people involved in social media, so many brands… you have to be to stay at the forefront of it.”

Along with partner April Leight, her initiatives include the likes of “How do you wear LnA” contests, where people send in their photographs, or competitions on Twitter such as offering prizes for the first people to name five celebrities who wear the brand’s zipper pocket tee.

Both the Twitter feed and the blog are otherwise designed to share the inner workings of the company with its fans. “Our twitter is a platform for people to find out what we’re wearing today or what we’re doing in the office. It gives them an inside look of what’s going on here,” said Alexander.

“And then we have our blog. It’s an inspirational blog, so [people] can get a peek at what we’re listening to, what music do we like, who’s inspiring us, what bloggers do we like, who’s dressed well and kind of get a peek inside our heads creatively, like what’s driving this.”

“We get so much great responses to our blog and to Twitter, and it’s cool because they’re very different, you get two totally different sides of us, but they serve the same purpose,” she added.

While celebrity remains at the root of the brand’s marketing, social media then helps further drive sales, she explained. With nearly 15,000 followers on Twitter, Alexander says the effect of posting news of a celebrity wearing a certain item, for example, is huge.

“If Kim Kardashian gets photographed wearing something, it will sell out on our website. We put it on Twitter and it’s instantaneous.”

The company is also embarking on branded content through traditional media with news of a reality television show currently being filmed.

Expected to air at the end of the summer, it will follow Alexander and Leight through the design process, from the idea for a collection to the shooting of its look-book, and the press preview in New York.

“It’s a peek inside the inner workings of an actual company, and the struggles that we go through as designers and owners. As long as we can stay true to what is actually happening here and not miss the plot, then it could be something really special and really cool,” she said.

Shanghai Tang upgrades China city app

23 May

Chinese luxury brand Shanghai Tang has updated its bilingual City Chic application for spring/summer.

The revision features an increased number of must-sees in Beijing and Shanghai including restaurants, hotels, cultural hot spots and shops complete with exclusive offers, location information, images and taxi cards (if you’ve been to China you’ll know how essential these are).

The app, which is compatible with both the iPhone and iPad, is also among the first in China to offer a wish list function, through which users are able to not only order pieces from the spring line but request a store to hold something for them, order a home delivery, or share items with their friends.

There is also a new mini game and news on the latest collections.

The original app was launched in April 2010. Users will continue to have access to The Shanghai Tang Lounge Collection sampler where they can enjoy music from the brand’s own album.

Digital snippets: Kardashian’s ShoeDazzle, Nordstrom, Gilt Groupe, Fashion140

20 May

Some more great stories from around the web surrounding all things fashion and digital this week:

  • Kim Kardashian’s ShoeDazzle raises $40m in capital [AllThingsD]
  • Inside Gilt Groupe: a tour of the leading flash-sales site’s Brooklyn offices [BusinessInsider]
  • Weaving together ethical fashion and social media with the IOU Project [CNN]
  • Five best practices for fashion retailers on Facebook [Mashable]

How the recession changed the luxury-advertising landscape

20 May

“The recession was the best thing that ever happened to the fashion industry. A lot of what was going on before the recession felt very formulaic… [It] was a great opportunity to get a bit more aggressive and dip your toe into digital or something nontraditional,” Richard Christiansen, founder-creative director of Chandelier Creative.

As quoted in a piece by Advertising Age looking at how boutique agencies are helping make high-end brands more approachable through digital. A month old, but well worth a read.

GPS treasure hunting with Timberland

20 May

Timberland is running a GPS-enabled treasure hunt to push its new Earthkeeper footwear range across Europe.

The ‘Trail of Heroes’ campaign is open until June in Berlin, Brussels, London, Madrid, Milan and Paris.

It encourages participants to find hidden treasure (prizes such as clothing from the brand and a trip to Iceland) off the back of coordinates sent to their GPS device. is a campaign site created by brand experience specialists BEcause and Groundspeak, reports Campaign.

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