I was struck by a few lines from Cathy Horyn’s New York Times article last Thursday, Fashion Is Two Clicks Behind. Horyn speculates about how fashion pioneer Coco Chanel would market her products were she alive today:
She would have a reality show, casting her lovers in supporting roles.
Through her blog, CocoDope.com, she would not only acquire a dedicated audience, but she would also understand that she had lost her customers by the time the sales racks of Saks or the worthy pages of Vogue could carry her name into the heartland. She would realize, above all, that to be an iconoclast in 2006 she would have to think of Web technology not merely as a marketing and selling tool but also as the primary form of expression in her time. [Emphasis mine.]
The point of the article, of course, is that the fashion industry has failed to embrace the technological revolution. It is an observation I noticed when doing research for a project for Mall of America, two sites specifically designed to highlight teen fashion at MOA. Many of the fashion sites we looked at–even those targeted specifically at teens–failed to incorporate the technology that teens themselves use on a daily basis.
Teenager’s communication style is informal not just because they are kids, but also because they are informed by the technology they use: They blog and read blogs, they use email, text messaging, and especially instant messaging. These forms of communication favor casual, first person, and often tuncated launguage (e.g. LOL for Laughing Out Loud). They multitask and love to share primarily through instant messaging but also through email and blogs.
Accordingly, we incorporated these techonolgies into the fashion sites, allowing, for example, visitors to IM a URL of a page they like to a friend with one click. Visitors could sign up for email or text message alters.
The point, of course, is that we made it as easy as possible for the targeted audience to interact with the site using techonolgies with which they were most familiar. It was an appraoch we noticed was glaringly absent from most fashion sites we researched.