Luxe wants to be your friend.
BY ROBIN SAYERS
FEARFUL OF FACEBOOK? Jittery about Twitter? Some of fashion’s biggest names might just provide the incentive you need to sign up, then sign in.
Considering roughly 75% of Internet users in the US engage with social networks and blogs (just under half of the country’s population!), it’s little wonder that designers are turning to these booming online communities to connect with, and grow, their fan base.
Countless style blogs live on the web, but there are only two major social networks as far as highend fashion lines are concerned: Facebook and Twitter, the former boasting nearly 110 million users, the latter, just over 18 million.
Naturally, different tastemakers play in these arenas very differently. Some, like Tory Burch, take an active role in personally reaching out to fans across various social networking platforms. Her Facebook page reveals over 31,000 “friends,” any of whom can ask Burch questions—many of which are, indeed, answered. More than 17,000 people are “following” her on Twitter, where she sounds off not only on fashion-related topics (i.e., locations of new stores, updates on fittings for her shows), but also on books she’s reading, videos she enjoys, or even President Obama’s plan to invest $30 billion in small businesses. These under-140 character blurbs are re-tweeted on her eponymous website’s blog, which also contains original posts from Burch as well as guest editors.
Then there’s Diane Von Furstenberg, whose online presence is enlivened both by her creative team and the icon herself. In addition to the vibrant and robust DVF.com, there’s the Facebook page, “friended” by over 36,000 fans. Unique tabs direct enthusiasts to special promotions as well as a “Fans Photos” section, where DVF lovers can upload pictures of themselves sporting her pieces. Six distinct Twitter accounts broadcast to devotees, including one dedicated to the Bal Harbour boutique; tweets detail new shipments, trunk shows and other store happenings. Her main Twitter account, with close to 19,000 followers, shares missives from the company collectively as well as from Von Furstenberg (example: “Today is indeed my husband’s birthday and our anniversary!!!”).
Some designers, however, seem perfectly content to leave the business side of this brave new virtual world to their colleagues. A visit to MarcJacobs.com offers a home page invitation to follow brand President Robert Duffy on Twitter. While not the garb guru himself, Duffy’s proximity to Jacobs and knowledge of the inner-workings of their trendy house earned him over 2,000 followers in under a week. In one Tweet, Duffy asked for fans’ advice: “Any ideas for a stage set for our fashion show? It’s at the Armory on 27th Street. I’m stuck. No idea. Something minimal please? I have one week!”
Armani, Calypso St. Barth, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Dior, Gucci, Intermix, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren, Versace and Yves Saint Laurent are among the many other upscale players mixing and mingling in Web 2.0 world. For those still on the social media fence, the promise of exclusive fashion scoops available instantly on your laptop, smart phone or—hello, iPad!—might just be enough to have you brainstorming a creative username.