How can brands use Fashion Week as a springboard to work with bloggers?

This is the question we asked 100 fashion bloggers.

Every brand which understands the power of influence, should take heed of the responses.

When the fashion industry embraced the power of online, our favourite bloggers were given access to Fashion Week and, as consumers, we loved it.

For the first time, we didn’t need to be Anna Wintour or Alexa Chung to get Front Row seats; we saw everything through the eyes of real people who were fashion enthusiasts just like us.

It’s fair to say that things have certainly moved on since then, and a group of powerful bloggers have not only got in to the best shows, but gained VIP access all areas, and celebrity status. Brands are now fully aware of the impact bloggers have, and have recognised them to be key players in making their fashion shows a success.

But should brands be looking at collaborating with bloggers on more of a long-term basis to help create next season’s collections and should they be given access to design studios, or be involved in making buying decisions?

Earlier this year Propellernet surveyed 100 of the UK’s top fashion bloggers though our Front Row Society blogger network, on how they see themselves working with brands in the future

Fifty per cent revealed they would love to work with brands on a consultancy basis, which includes anything from brand insight and market research to focus groups and designing.  

As bloggers are essentially influential customers advocating their favourite brands through their blogging platforms, industry experts should consider incorporating them even more during the concept and design stages.

Here’s why:

  1. They hold key customer insight
    Think about it. If you’re working with an influential blogger, you’ve chosen them because they are the right brand fit, can relate to your target customer and more importantly can influence their buying behaviour. Bloggers know what their readers love. They know which dress got the most hits, which pair of shoes made the most commission and which outfit gained the most shares, comments and retweets. If they know this, they’ll know what your customer likes now and have ideas about what they’ll like next season. Why? Because bloggers are your target customer with a voice.
     
  2. They make collections accessible and less intimidating
    Yes, Fashion week is about inspiration and setting the trend. But it is also a tool to help sell next season's stock. As exciting as the catwalk is, six-feet-tall, young, size 6 models can make it difficult for us to picture ourselves in looks from the shows. Because bloggers are real people with real body shapes and sizes, they help us with the transition between the catwalk and our wardrobe. They show us how to wear pieces, such as maxi dress if you’re petite, skinny jeans if you’re curvy, or even how to rock the skort without having Giselle’s legs. Some fashion enthusiasts may not have the confidence to wear the new season’s trends so look to bloggers they relate to for advice and inspiration.
     
  3. They know the industry
    It’s unsurprising that many fashion bloggers actually work in the industry as stylists, photographers, PRs, digital marketers and journalists. The chances are that they have a combined expertise of knowing how to influence your customer as well as having a fashion background. This is a great asset to have when you’re going through the designing or buying process.
     
  4. They know what competitors are doing
    It’s got to a point where bloggers are so inundated with invites, collaborations and partnerships that they have to handpick the projects they do. This also means that they may have collaborated with your competitors at some point. That is not to say they will reveal secrets or break embargoes but at the same time, having so much access to so many brands means they will unconsciously absorb information that will be of use to you. If you choose to collaborate with them they won’t want to recreate what others have done and will want to work on projects they are proud of.
     
  5. Some of them are already designers
    Fashion Foie Gras, The Blonde Salad, Bip Ling and Susie Bubble are just a handful of bloggers who have collaborated with brands to design their own range of products. In an interview with the Fashion Telegraph Emily of Fashion Foie Gras said:

"I think designers are asking bloggers to collaborate because they find certain influencers are aligned with their aesthetic and bring something new to the table.”

Enlisting a blogger to create a one-off or limited edition product is nothing new but why leave it as a one-off or short term plan? If celebrities like the Kardashians can capitalise on long-term partnerships with multiple brands (for example Lipsy, Dorothy Perkins and Sears) brands could consider partnering with bloggers, who also have the credentials to create authentic, wearable and affordable lines that will resonate with customers, who they are so close to.

There are brands that are already on the money with this strategy, like Superdrug, which has enlisted popular beauty vlogger Tanya Burr to create her own line of lip gloss and nail polish, as well as Very getting her on board to design her first fashion collection. Is it possible that bloggers have the power to take market share from celebrity endorsers?

To say that fashion bloggers have changed the way the industry sells, promotes, shares and attracts new audiences is an understatement.

Our survey revealed that they don’t just want to be seen as marketing tools for reviewing products or churning out irrelevant press releases but to be considered as stakeholders that play a key part to keeping the industry current, exciting and innovative.

Our soon-to-be released Front Row Society ebook is an informational piece of research collated from a survey of 100 UK fashion bloggers.

We asked bloggers about the brands they like to work with, favourite types of collaboration, biggest frustrations and how they see the blogging landscape changing in the future. We have also included best practice, from both brand and bloggers perspective.

The free ebook is due to be released next month so if you’d like to sign up to receive it once its release please emailFRS@propellernet.co.uk or fill in the form on our Front Row Society page.

By Hannah Foster

10 September 2014