The influence of social media and its implications for brands and retailers was up for discussion last week at an expert panel in London’s Soho Collective.
Independents Cheshire-based Black White Denim and St Albans-based The Dressing Room got together with fashion influencer and Orwell + Austen designer Jessica Schuhle-Lewis and Air & Grace designer Claire Burrows for a panel discussion about social media and the biggest challenges facing women working in the fashion retail sector. The event was organised by The Brand Ambassadors Fashion Agency.
Indies underlined the importance of using social media in conflation with consumer demand for new trends.
“Our customers are desperate for new stock all the time”, said The Dressing Room owner, Deryane Tadd.
“Keeping abreast of new and up-and-coming designers is massively aided by social media, giving businesses like mine a boost and a strong point of difference.”
Sales assistant at Black White Denim Joseph Duffill said: “Social media is a huge benefit for us. As soon as we get a new line in we live stream and social the unboxing and it immediately pulls people in.”
“People are desperate to buy what they have seen in magazines, on celebrities and on television, but they also want to be different from everyone else and that is why following social media buzz around designers and feeding back comments from social media about collections is key.”
Exclusivity is also key for retailers which is why brands like Orwell + Austen work with independents to create custom pieces suited to their customer base, said Schuhle-Lewis.
“My range all about colour. I have worked with a same small factory in Nepal for the past five years and that works for me because I do not have huge minimums and so can offer exclusives for boutiques such as bespoke colours suited to their customers.”
She added that shoppers are also demanding sustainable and eco-friendly collections: “In this retail environment people are more switched on with buying better and buying less. Women want to buy things they can wear a lot, make a statement and ensure that it lasts if you look after it, and that’s what I try to look for with stockists.”
Black White Denim owner Jo Davis agreed: “Customers are becoming more and more interested in the story behind the items that they are buying. They do not mind spending more if it is of high quality, ethical and will last. I really love wearing clothes that I have had in my wardrobe for years.”
Dress Like a Mum (DLAM) founder Zoe de Pass also echoed this sentiment: “I am seeing it more and more with my followers on Instagram. People want to know where product come from: were the factory workers paid and treated fairly, what was the carbon footprint. I find that people are much happier to pay more to know that an item is ethical and will last longer.”
Air & Grace founder Claire Burrows connected with de Pass through social media and the pair are launching their second collaboration in May. It has been designed by the instagrammer and will be exclusively sold by de Pass, Air & Grace, and independents Black White Denim and The Dressing Room.