Fall is arguably the most important season for any fashion brand and any brand whose audience aligns with those who favor fashion. Fall is when designers showcase their new collections and high-profile magazines like Vogue print their biggest issues of the year. The way brands market fall fashion requires year-round planning to create an omnichannel strategy that will gain visibility and drive revenue.
The cyclical nature of fashion marketing makes it one that can be replicated year after year no matter what the upcoming fashion trends may be for that particular season. Digital strategies such as influencer marketing and cross-promotional initiatives aren’t anything new, although the terminology has evolved.
If we look back to the launch of the Sears catalog and follow it through the decades to the inaugural launch of Vogue’s iconic September issue to the current, social powerhouse of Instagram, brands have maneuvered their way through offline and online channels to create an experience their audiences not only enjoy but look forward to every fall.
Sears Catalog Delivered Over a Century of Fall Fashion Trends
Long before Instagram, social sharing, or even the Internet were a thought, Richard Sears printed the first “Sears catalog” in 1888. What started out as an advertisement for watches and jewelry, quickly expanded into other products such as bicycles, books, clothing, and buggies.
Then, in 1896, he created a fall and spring catalog with an open invitation for customers to visit the Chicago headquarters. The catalog was updated and optimized year after year to meet customers’ changing needs and requests. The general catalog ceased production in 1993 but many remember anticipating the arrival of the fall issue as they planned their back-to-school clothes shopping and upcoming holiday and home needs.
While the fashions displayed in the Sears catalog were not intended for the same audience as Vogue readers, for example, the level of excitement and buy-in to whatever arrived in that year’s catalog is comparable. The goal was to provide the same kind of experience for each customer, whether that person was flipping through the magazine’s pages or shopping in the store in Chicago.
Vogue’s September Issue – Fashion Marketing at Its Best
“The September Issue” is so iconic there was a documentary about it in 2009. Why make a documentary about a magazine? Because the brand is that influential! A single-page ad runs over $200,000. There is many a marketer who dreams for a $200K budget for a single ad. With a circulation of 195,083, advertisers are confident about the payoff.
There is an omnichannel strategy at play that targets the Vogue audience year-round. Not only does this audience welcome what’s delivered, but they also look forward to it. Their audience is one that includes Vogue readers, Fashion Week attendees, and clothing brand and beauty product enthusiasts.
In the digital age, there is also such thing as label envy. People are going to buy a luxury brand like Gucci, if they’ve seen it on the fall fashion runway (offline), approved by Anna Wintour (reputation and brand management), and gushed about by their favorite celeb on Instagram (influencer marketing). The idea of if they can afford it is almost a secondary thought.
Is Instagram the Most Influential of Them All?
Instagram has created such a sensation online, especially within the fashion industry, that users are buying clothes they can’t afford only to post a picture for the ‘gram and return. While bad for budgets and customer service, it still benefits brands because illusion versus reality is one of the foundations the fashion industry is built upon and some could say marketing, in general.
The hashtag #voguemagazine has 1 million Instagram posts at last check and #septemberissue has 130K posts. If you were to total how many followers each of those million people who posted have, you can see how valuable influencer marketing is, with or without a celebrity endorsement.
Fashion is not what we’re wearing, but how we aspire to present ourselves. Do the clothes make us feel powerful, comfortable, confident? An industry that is based on how a person looks really makes its profit based on how people feel.