Discover the most relevant industry news and insights for fashion PR & communications professionals, updated each month to enable you to excel in job interviews, promotion conversations or perform better in the workplace by increasing your market awareness and emulating market leaders.
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Key articles and need-to-know insights for PR & communications professionals today:
1. How Hedi Slimane Doubled Celine Sales
In 2022, [luxury brand Celine] is expected to generate at least €2.2 billion ($2.3 billion) in annual revenue, according to analysts, just meeting the target set by LVMH chief executive and chairman Bernard Arnault in 2018. That’s despite a rocky start — [Hedi] Slimane’s radical overhaul of the brand upset devotees of former designer Phoebe Philo — and the shock of the pandemic.
“He’s consistent, and the customer today values consistency more than ever,” said Robert Burke, a retail advisor. […] Slimane’s talent is in making the best-in-class version of “normal,” everyday items — vintage Levi’s, a trench, a blazer — or the types of things that most luxury shoppers don’t have the patience, or acumen, to thrift. […] And like most other top-tier fashion brands, Celine has ventured further and further into the highest end of pricing, not only with accessories — such as the personalised Haute Maroquinerie Triomphe, with hardware made of 18k gold — but also through the couture-like pieces it designs for its growing list of private clients.
PR Manager, Marine Serre — Paris, France
Account Intern, RK Communications — Los Angeles, United States
2. Balenciaga’s Breakdown: What Went Wrong and What Comes Next
[In December], the risks of Balenciaga’s edgy approach to marketing became painfully clear — as did the errors of the company’s initial response to the crisis — as public outrage and confusion in response to the brand’s ads featuring children posing with BDSM-inspired teddy bears reached a scale not seen in the fashion industry since Dolce & Gabbana’s 2018 meltdown in China.
Balenciaga’s response to the crisis was less than ideal in terms of speed and messaging, communications experts said. First Balenciaga was slow to provide a substantial response: a more complete apology, explanation and action plan than the brand’s initial statement would have been more effective on the first day of the crisis. By waiting days to more fully address the issue, the brand risked appearing like it wasn’t taking the campaign backlash seriously.
In-House Press Intern, Vetements — Zurich, Switzerland
Senior Account Manager, Linda Gaunt Communications — New York, United States
3. ‘Stop Lying, Stop Greenwashing’ — Key Messages From COP27
In Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, policymakers have tried to hash out a new agreement to [cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels] at the UN’s COP27 climate summit. In the midst of splashy corporate panels and announcements that have come to be expected at COP, the UN released a report demanding a “zero-tolerance” crackdown on hollow climate commitments from businesses, and detailing recommendations on how they should “walk the talk” on their net-zero promises.
“Using bogus net-zero pledges to cover up massive fossil-fuel expansion is reprehensible,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. “The sham must end.” Fashion has faced its own greenwash reckoning this year, with regulators in the UK, Netherlands and Norway taking aim at brands’ green marketing claims, and H&M now facing class action lawsuits in two US states. Companies increasingly need to sharpen their climate commitments — and how they communicate them to consumers.
Junior PR Manager, Reference Studios — Berlin, Germany
Senior Account Manager, Purple PR — New York, United States
4. The Strategy Behind Louis Vuitton’s Viral Football Campaign
Released on the eve of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the Annie Leibovitz-lensed image of football superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi locked in a friendly game of chess exploded on social media. Louis Vuitton’s tweet of the image (captioned “Victory is a state of mind”) has been reposted over 55,000 times. On Instagram, Ronaldo and Messi both shared the image, clocking up a total of 65 million likes, the most in the platform’s history.
Louis Vuitton’s campaign deftly managed to tap surging interest in football ahead of the World Cup while sidestepping the controversies associated with the event, from Qatar’s ruthless treatment of LGBTQ minorities to its exploitation of migrant labourers. Louis Vuitton itself, which has produced a special trophy case for the event since 2010 […] as well as selling a World Cup-themed capsule collection, has posted about neither of those activations on Instagram — nor will it need to should the bad buzz on Qatar fail to subside. With the chess photo and resulting media coverage, the brand already garnered online buzz worth an estimated $13.5 million in just 48 hours, Launchmetrics said.
Marketing and Communications Manager, Fursac — Paris, France
PR and Production Manager, ATP Atelier — Stockholm, Sweden
5. Olaplex’s ‘Broke My Hair’ Problem Is a TikTok Cautionary Tale
Social media has become an essential part of marketing, with brands paying so-called influencers to promote products online. If done well, that paid content leads to others sharing and creating their own posts. But social media played an outsize role in Olaplex’s success, [which] pointed out as much in its IPO filing, saying that failure to respond to the “accelerated impact of social media could adversely impact our business.”
Piper Sandler analyst Korinne Wolfmeyer conducts a quarterly survey of Olaplex-certified hairstylists. In September, she flagged that about 40 percent of stylists had heard negative reviews from clients, mainly regarding dryness and breakage. She downgraded Olaplex’s shares to the equivalent of a hold rating later that month, citing misinformation and competition as increasing risks. The next month, Olaplex slashed an annual sales forecast it had reiterated 10 weeks earlier and cast a wide net of blame, including competition and a weakening economy. The stock sank by 57 percent in a day to $4.24 — about one-fifth of its IPO price.
PR and Influencer Executive, The Fold — London, United Kingdom
Community Manager, Claudie Pierlot — Paris, France
6. Capturing Fashion’s Growth Potential in the Middle East
When scanning the globe to identify growth opportunities in the year ahead, most fashion executives responding to the BoF-McKinsey State of Fashion 2023 Survey cited the Middle East as a region that holds greater promise in 2023 than in 2022. Indeed, sales of luxury fashion in the Gulf Cooperation Council alone reached around $4.2 million in 2021, an increase of 39 percent on 2019 levels.
Capturing growth in the region will require brands to double down on localisation and personalisation strategies, according to Patrick Chalhoub, group president of Chalhoub Group, a Dubai-based luxury goods retailer and distributor […] While growth prospects are robust across the GCC region, Saudi Arabia, where luxury sales have been recording double-digit growth, stands out for Chalhoub’s top executive. He sees the fashion industry playing a role in the country’s sweeping Vision 2030 programme aimed at modernising and diversifying its economy.
PR Manager, Giorgio Armani — London, United Kingdom
PR Executive, Tory Burch — Hong Kong
7. How Brands Find Customers in New Markets
Advertising on social media is more expensive than ever, while shoppers are inundated with choice in every product category. A looming economic downturn favours established incumbents over newcomers.
So rather than casting a wide net, the savviest underdogs, whether they’re a tiny brand just starting out or a big one branching out into a new market, opt for smaller-scale and often local activations to reach their initial customers. From pizza parties and professional conferences to specialty stores, niche Substacks and trunk shows, today’s upstarts have found new imaginative ways to reach their customer, embracing a form of marketing often neglected by their VC-funded, direct-to-consumer predecessors — word of mouth.
Brand Image Specialist, Ralph Lauren — London, United Kingdom
PR and Marketing Intern, Dôen — Van Nuys, United States
8. Can Technology Fill In Fashion’s Missing Data on Emissions?
The latest app feature from Klarna, the Swedish bank and major “buy now, pay later” lender, claims to offer information that much of the fashion industry has previously been unable or unwilling to share: the carbon footprint for any item of clothing a user has purchased. In the app, data is available for some 50 million SKUs, according to Namrata Sandhu, co-founder and chief executive of Vaayu, the carbon-measurement platform powering the feature.
The results aren’t perfect. Vaayu generates an accuracy score for each footprint it calculates, acknowledging that the reliability of its conclusions can vary. Still, Sandhu — a fashion veteran who was previously head of sustainability at German e-commerce giant Zalando — believes a technological workaround for fashion’s data gap can give brands and consumers a better handle on their carbon output, which is vital to start reducing it.
Project Manager Digital, Sandro — Paris, France
PR Director, KCD — New York, United States