How High-End Clothing Brands Are Courting Millennials (Part Two)
By Linda Freund · September 05, 2019
In recent years, high-end clothing brands have elevated their video content beyond aesthetics to reveal their brand’s identity, supplementing visually-striking ads with mini-docs and behind-the-scenes videos on popular platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
Specifically, they’re leveraging video to address questions that resonate with millennials like:
- Where were your materials sourced?
- What does the production process look like?
- Does your apparel company support social values like inclusivity or sustainability?
- And, most importantly, are your brand’s actions inspiring me to engage with a cause bigger than myself?
This two-part series expands upon these top strategies to reach millennials in the fashion video space. It also provides best practices that apparel brands — big and small — can adopt to better connect with young audiences.
You can read part one here, or move on to part two below!
Louis Vuitton Spotlights Young Voices and Opinions
Louis Vuitton routinely dispatches celebrities and influencers to key fashion events, all decked out in the brand’s luxury ensembles. These video partnerships help Louis Vuitton imbibe a more authentic, identifiable, and humorous side of the brand, a surefire draw for millennials.
In the videos, influencers offer a behind-the-scenes impression of varied fashion festivities, like these hotel-room chats ahead of Met Gala 2019 with Sophie Turner (4.5M views and 551K engagements on Instagram) and Chloe G Moretz (2.1M views and 260K engagements on Instagram).
The luxury brand also regularly invites YouTubers to undergo a Cinderella moment, like their first experience at a flagship fashion event. This collaborative video strategy is a core reason why the fashion house often lands on the top of Tubular’s apparel brand leaderboards.
Influencers Dominate at Louis Vuitton’s 2019 Fashion Show
For high-end clothing brands looking to up their influencer game, we can look to Louis Vuitton’s partnerships during the brand’sFall-Winter 2019 Fashion Show in Paris as a template for success.
Louis Vuitton invited YouTube influencer Emma Chamberlain, known for her low-fi vlogs, authentic personality, and roll-out-of-bed look. This was a markedly different stomping ground for Emma who initially gained notoriety for her dollar-store haul video and Louis Vuitton didn’t hesitate to play that element up.
The video campaign was comprised of three produced segments detailed below.
Segment One: Brand-Produced Event Video
In this main event video, model Karlie Kloss and first-timer Emma Chamberlain field high-fashion questions. The vastly different answers between veteran and novice are hilarious.
The video concludes at the catwalk. The produced segment was released on Louis Vuitton’s official YouTube channel and earned 1.2M views and 54.4K engagements.
Segment Two: Behind-The-Scenes Influencer Report
Emma documented her experience for her eight million YouTube subscribers, garnering 9.7M views and 472K engagements.
The video opens with Emma in her home (sans make-up and beanie-clad). It incorporates scenes of her pigging out on room service, attending a French spin class, a Parisian shopping haul, and in-room makeover, all culminating with the fashion show.
Segment Three: Recap and Next Event
Emma later partnered with Louis Vuitton to cover the 2020 cruise show. She dished about her life while getting her nails done on camera, another casual encounter. The video began with a summary of her antics covering Paris Fashion Week.
Then it followed Emma as she experienced the 2020 cruise show, direct from the JFK airport terminal. It served as the perfect bridge between one event and the next, as the influencer’s brand ambassadorship evolves. The video earned 1.9M views on YouTube and 82.3K engagements.
Takeaways: The interviews were recorded in the influencers’ hotel rooms, a common practice by the brand as it fosters a more intimate feel. Rather than making the videos about the event themselves, they were personality-driven.
Louis Vuitton created an opening for influencers to do what they do best: riff on social themes. As a result, these felt less forced or advertorial, a definite draw for millennials.
The majority of Louis Vuitton’s YouTube content runs between :30 and one-minute in duration. But when it comes to influencer content, the brand lets the videos run longer, as in documentary length.
Louis Vuitton opts for a handful of well-produced influencer videos, rather than a bunch of short social snippets from major events. In this case, segment one ran a whopping 12 minutes, segment two (Emma’s video for her channel) ran nearly 20 minutes, and segment three ran nine minutes.
Louis Vuitton also sent the Dolan Twins to Paris to cover the Louis Vuitton Men’s Spring-Summer 2020 Fashion Show in a video that ran 20 minutes. The video followed the boys as they comedically encountered the fashion world for the first time, earning 1.2M views on YouTube.
That’s more than one hour of content generated from influencers in the past few months, which millions of viewers ate up!
High-end clothing brands and apparel companies take note: aim to experiment with longer documentary-length content to time with key events. Viewer interest is there, particularly on YouTube.
Prada Is a Champion for Sustainability
When a company launches an environmental initiative, a reported 76% of millennials will do research to ensure the brand is being authentic in its claims, according to a recent Cone Communications survey.
That’s where videos can be an effective tool in relaying the facts in an emotional narrative.
Prada is a standout brand when it comes to the charge for more sustainable products. The luxury brand’s video channel is packed with documentary content that promotes eco-friendly production.
The apparel brand just collaborated with media publisher National Geographic, to produce the “What We Carry” docu-series on upcycling.
The videos highlight Prada’s new Re-Nylon line, derived from reusable materials. More specifically it looks at “econyl yarn,” an innovative nylon fabric produced by Aquafil that can be restored repeatedly and still maintain its quality.
The first episode, just released last June, takes audiences to an Aquafil recycling compound in Arizona. Four more videos will follow in the months ahead.
Prada’s nylon bags have long been the signature item of the brand’s sports line. The nylon fabric is what makes it most identifiable.
But the brand claims it will replace all of its nylon with econyl by 2021. This is representative of a brand willing to adapt to millennial consumers. According to Prada, the move reflects “changing times and a shifting world.”
Does Sustainability Sell? The Bottom Line
Prada is not alone in its sustainability appeal.
Just ahead of Earth Day last April, athletic-apparel brand Adidas released Futurecraft LOOP, its first-ever fully recyclable shoe. The brand’s corresponding video campaign earned millions of views in the past 90 days.
Clothing brand Everlane, known for hyper-transparency about its business practices, also debuted a sustainable sneaker called Tread last April.
But does sustainability sell? Around 59% of luxury consumers who buy from high-end clothing brands say their purchasing choices are influenced by sustainability, according to the 2019 survey by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Altagamma.
Still there is no data for Prada’s Re-Nylon bags nor Everlane’s Tread sneakers, both of which recently hit the market. And Adidas’ shoes won’t be available to consumers until the spring or summer 2021.
Ralph Lauren Works to Embrace Inclusivity
Ralph Lauren, an apparel brand that embodies the American psyche, often integrates the U.S. flag into its luxury clothing. In recent months, its core brand story has evolved to keep pace with contemporary American values of inclusivity.
In its recent “family is who you love” video campaign, the brand features eight diverse families, from a same-sex couple to a single parent and a multigenerational family. All of them speak about what family means to them.
“We believe that family is one of the most positive forces and powerful unifiers for all of us today,” said Jonathan Bottomley, Ralph Lauren’s Chief Marketing Officer.
The brand also gained traction for its recent video offerings about Priyanka Chopra’s custom-designed wedding gown. It not only featured the finished product but also used video to show Mr. Lauren’s sketching and planning process.
It just goes to show a simple behind-the-scenes video that takes viewers inside the designer’s notebook from high-end clothing brands can be totally mesmerizing.
Feed The HYPEBEAST
In the past year, 207 brands have partnered with HYPEBEAST, a global authority on streetwear.
Luxury streetwear, from flashy logos to posh casual apparel, is immensely popular amongst younger consumers. After all, for many, this qualifies as workplace attire.
The media publisher is the go-to video partner for brands wanting to give their clothing street cred with millennials across the globe (particularly in China, a leading luxury market).
It was the #9 fashion & style media creator across platforms on Tubular in June. Recent sponsors include Louis Vuitton (which commissioned six videos total, four of which were Chinese-language), Ralph Lauren, Levi’s, Guess, Calvin Klein, Lacoste, and Fendi.
For Ralph Lauren, HYPEBEAST produced a video that drew on millennial nostalgia for the brand’s infamous polo shirt. The sponsored video plays a montage of people wearing its old-school streetwear line, as answering-machine recordings about the brand’s promise blast in the background.
Talk about a ‘90s flashback. There’s even a fanny pack. The concept was marketed to South Korea on HYPEBEAST’S Korean vertical.
High-End Clothing Brands + Low Luxury = A Millennial Win
Millennials often mix their luxury wardrobe with mid-range products. About 55% of millennials mix and match their handbags, sneakers, and clothing, according to 2018 BCG research.
This common practice showcases a millennial consumer’s ability to harness online research to create his or her own custom wardrobe.
Mid-range clothing brands from Guess to Armani Exchange are successfully using video to hook some of these crossover consumers. Their key strategy is to create video content that feels relatable.
In the case of Guess, the apparel brand live streams casual conversations with designers, like this recent suite tour with Charlotte McKinney on her new summer line. Viewers are given the chance to ask questions live about the inspiration behind the products.
These videos have low-production quality, but they feel authentic and intimate, something millennials appreciate.
For Armani Exchange, the brand collaborates with atypical influencers. The obvious choice for fashion brands is to collaborate with YouTube fashion creators. Who doesn’t love a good haul video?
But there is a universe of potential niche collaborators out there. This past May, Armani Exchange partnered with Italian esports team Mkers. So far, the brand has released a video promoting this tie-up, which has performed well, though the brand is yet to create original content to cement the partnership.
Ultimate Takeaway: Just Keep It Real
If fashion brands want to hook millennials, they should harness video feeds to:
- tell original stories (on art, culture, or any theme that goes beyond the brand’s apparel)
- clarify their stance on key social issues (from sustainability to inclusivity)
- showcase the making of the apparel, direct from the production house
- draw on emotional flashpoints: from nostalgia for one’s childhood to a craving for self-betterment and civic engagement
- partner with influencers to go behind-the-scenes at marquee fashion events
Prepping for 2020 Fashion Events
For apparel brands, marquee fashion events are their time to shine. Here are some social video action items both high-end clothing brands and other apparel companies can employ to maximize on the fanfare.
- Pick a Brand Theme: Choose an overarching theme that can serve as the connective tissue for your event coverage. In large-scale events like New York Fashion Week, your theme will prove crucial in differentiating you. A past example is Dior’s study of movement, the intersection between high-fashion and dance.
- Recruit Young Influencers: Partner with influencers who have a strong following with your target consumer. The influencer doesn’t have to be a card-carrying fashionista. Authenticity resonates most.
- Go Behind-the-Scenes: The strongest videos aren’t just about the main event. Videos that take viewers behind-the-catwalk and cozy up with models often perform well. And when it comes to influencers, these behind-the-scenes details are video gold. Shoot influencers in their hotel room as they brush their hair or casually discuss the event, ride in the car, or even attempt to use the hotel coffee maker. What may seem like mundane or extraneous often ends up supremely interesting for an influencer’s subscriber base.
- Engage, Engage, Engage! Brands must go beyond surveillance video to offer a wide range of interactive content. This can take the form of a live video Q&A with designers or influencers in their hotel rooms, a vote in which viewers determine an influencer’s adventure, or a coordinated effort to inspire UGC. The options are endless.
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