The Fundamentals of Digital Fashion Marketing Cover Image

The Fundamentals of Digital Fashion Marketing


Clare Harris

Fairchild Books Library

Table of contents

Fashion and film

Book chapter

DOI: 10.5040/
Pages: 106–135

This chapter introduces:

  • The changes in the way that fashion uses film and other forms of moving images.

  • The development of live-streamed fashion shows and fashion video campaigns.

  • An interview with film-maker Nick Stickland, CEO and Executive Creative Director of independent creative agency ODD.

  • The use of social video platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo, Vine, and Snapchat in fashion and the rise of fashion vlogging.

  • A case study on shoppable video specialists, Cinematique.

  • An exercise that will help you create a fashion vlog.

Fashion and film

Fashion and film have had a long and productive relationship. Costume is extremely important in film; costume designers work as storytellers, their designs helping to bring characters to life.

Fashion itself has also been a topic for a number of famous films including Funny Face (1957), Pret-a-Porter (1994), and The Devil Wears Prada (2006). There have also been strong relationships between fashion designers and film stars, such as Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn’s film costumes were designed by Givenchy and she also wore Givenchy off screen and in fashion magazines.

Film stars have been influential as style icons for their audiences, and some films have sparked trends for particular fashions—for example, Rebel Without a Cause (1955) for the jeans and T-shirt worn by James Dean and Annie Hall (1977) for the menswear-inspired outfits worn by Diane Keaton. This pattern has continued, sometimes in innovative or ironic ways. The popular trilogy, The Hunger Games, starring Jennifer Lawrence, has been promoted through a marketing campaign with its own fashion site, Capitol Couture, focusing on different looks inspired by the films. Costume designer for The Hunger Games, Trish Summerville, has also produced a collection of ready-to-wear pieces based on the film.

Today, film is playing new roles in fashion. The ‘digital fashion film’ is a term for ‘a range of digital moving image features that include promotional videos for seasonal collections, substitutes for conventional catwalk display, electronic look-books, experimental films used to advertise brands ...“promos” for the digital platform versions of print magazines, e-stores, and brand-funded artists’ videos’ (Gary Needham, 2013).

‘Designers’ films are associated with a particular fashion individual or brand, while ‘artists’ films are created for a brand by an artist. ‘Authored’ films are directed by famous film directors, for example, Martin Scorsese’s Bleu de Chanel for Chanel (2010), David Lynch’s Lady Blue Shanghai starring Marion Cotillard for Dior (2010) and Roman Polanski’s A Therapy starring Ben Kingsley and Helena Bonham Carter for Prada (2012).


‘The chance to dwell on what the fashion world represents nowadays ... is fascinating.’

 Roman Polanski (2012)

Figure 4.01

Funny Face

Film poster, 1956.

Figure 4.02

The Devil Wears Prada

Film poster, 2006.

Figure 4.03

Annie Hall

Film still, 1977.

Moving image

Feature films continue to be important for fashion, with a range of collaborations between creatives in both industries, for example, Miuccia Prada’s costume designs for the character of Daisy in The Great Gatsby (2013), and the use of the film Anna Karenina (2012) as the inspiration for Marc Jacobs’ Louis Vuitton campaign the same year.

Ad campaigns are increasingly innovative in their use of moving image, often also making use of communication and other technologies. For example, Lanvin’s summer campaign featured its creative director, Alber Elvaz, responding to the collection via a Skype call.

Fashion creatives and collaborators

Creatives such as Nick Knight, the fashion photographer and film-maker, have become increasingly central to fashion marketing. Knight’s clients and collaborators have included designers such as Yohji Yamamoto and John Galliano, and performers such as Björk, Boy George, Lady Gaga, and Antony and the Johnsons, reflecting the new importance of musicians and artists in fashion. Knight’s work is committed to experimentation and to the concept of live fashion media, with his site, ShowStudio, featuring interactive projects, films, and live performances.

Figure 4.04

Prada costume design

Miuccia Prada’s costume design for The Great Gatsby.

Figure 4.05

Marc Jacobs’ (for Louis Vuitton) ready-to-wear collection

Inspired by the film, Anna Karenina, 2012.


‘Fashion is created to move. Showing that movement isn’t possible in print. Other mediums like film and TV were too bureaucratic—it needed to be something that’s accessible, fast, moving.’

 Nick Knight (2006)

Fashion TV and channels

Moving image is also more visible in a range of fashion TV and YouTube channels. Brands such as Dolce & Gabbana have their own channels to screen videos of their fashion shows, campaigns, commercials, and interviews. Skype has also collaborated with designers such as Victoria Beckham to create new spaces for moving image. Five Years – The Victoria Beckham Fashion Story features interviews and films of Beckham and her team talking about her fashion story.

Over the years the function of fashion imagery has been redefined in terms of visual content, viewer perspective, and delivery. We have seen a shift away from illustration, first to photography and then film. Increasingly today, fashion moving image is viewed on mobile devices and on a range of screen sizes. Video is also embedded in social networks and in many cases the audience is behind the camera, making consumer content.

Nick Knight

Knight has been central in creating the visual language of a number of fashion designers and brands, and is well known for experimenting online in order to push forward the development of fashion’s relationship with moving image. He has described the crucial role played by the Internet in this relationship because of its immediacy, its live and interactive characteristics, its independence, and the possibility of making a global audience an ‘active part’ of the process.

Knight showcased his pioneering work when he created a fashion film and images using 3D scanning and motion capture technology for Lane Crawford’s spring/summer 2013 lookbook.


‘All of a sudden … a whole load of doors opened up at the same time, with great views through them and lots of promises. It avalanched. It seemed to become coherent with the advent of the Internet; it all seemed to be going in the same direction, which was very exciting.’

 Nick Knight (2006)

Fashion goes live

Increasingly, moving image has been used for innovative live fashion shows and spectacles. Burberry was the first brand to live stream a fashion show in 2010. In 2012 over 2 million people from 100 countries watched video footage of Topshop’s spring/summer Unique show in the first three hours after it was broadcast on Topshop’s website and Twitter page and shown on screens at its Oxford Circus flagship store in London.

Viewers could click on clothes and accessories to browse color options as they appeared on the catwalk and create screenshots and video clips to share on Facebook. The video was also ‘shoppable’; make-up, clothes, and accessories could be ordered for delivery before they arrived in store. Several looks sold out within an hour and at least one sold out before the show was over. #TOPSHOP and #UNIQUE trended globally on Twitter.

In 2014 90% of London Fashion Week shows were live streamed. Burberry used Twitter’s ‘buy’ button so that viewers could purchase ‘in-Tweet’, while its ‘Runway Made to Order’ service allowed customers to buy and personalize coats and bags for a limited period. On YouTube, viewers could watch highlights from the show along with other content including make-up looks, the show soundtrack, and guests’ immediate reactions to the show. Its show was live streamed on China’s social network, WeChat.

Figure 4.06

Fendi streaming

Fendi was the first label to use drones fitted with cameras to live stream its autumn/winter show in 2014/15. The footage combined traditional and aerial viewpoints to create a 360° experience.

Figure 4.07

Ralph Lauren 4D

Ralph Lauren used Central Park in Manhattan to create a cinematic 4D experience, projecting its Polo spring 2015 show onto a huge screen. This combined digital artwork and effects with images of New York cityscapes and live film from the catwalk.

Promotional video

Promotional fashion videos have also become more varied and imaginative. In order for video campaigns to be effective, they need to have value. People are more likely to share content that is humorous, creative, beautiful or unique.


Fashion designer Bottega Veneta’s dance film Emotion of Sound (2015) features music made out of sounds that were collected from Veneta’s atelier in Italy while the collection was being made. It was designed to provoke an emotional and sensual response.


Swedish retailer COS commissioned a short film showing sound artists using everyday objects such as umbrellas to recreate the sounds made by people dressing in garments from their autumn/winter 2014 collection.


Viva Vena’s Fashion Film (2013), directed by Matthew Frost and starring actress Lizzy Caplan from the 2004 film Mean Girls, parodied its target audience of fashion hipsters.


‘A billion jeans. One of a kind stories.’ Levi’s’ ‘Live in Levi’s’ 2013 campaign used a documentary to showcase stories about the role that jeans play in the lives of their wearers.

Figure 4.08

Viva Vena’s Fashion Film


Dr. Martens’ 2014 film series #STANDFORSOMETHING built on their heritage of having ‘a history of standing for something’ and celebrated ‘free-thinking individuals’.


Desigual’s spring/summer 2015 campaign featured Winnie Harlow, a Canadian model with the pigmentation disorder, vitiligo. As Harlow commented, ‘Desigual stands for being unusual and unique and atypical, so they figured I’d be the perfect person for that.’

Figure 4.09

Dr. Martens’ #STANDFORSOMETHING campaign

Figure 4.10

Winnie Harlow featuring in Desigual’s spring/summer 2015 campaign

Interview: Nick Stickland, CEO and founder of ODD

Nick Stickland is the founder and Executive Creative Director of ODD, the independent creative agency that makes promotional videos for some of the world’s best-loved fashion and lifestyle brands.


When did the idea of ODD London first come about?

ODD was born out of the hustle to create a truly integrated offering to clients in the fashion and lifestyle sector. We believed that bringing different creative minds together would create a compelling and rich product which could cut through the marketplace. The name ODD was born from the ODD mix of disciplines all coming together under one roof.

Video has always been an incredibly important medium when it comes to selling our product, with our current show reel on being the ultimate showcase for the work that we’ve created.


You work with lots of leading fashion brands. Does being an independent creative agency give you more artistic freedom?

Yes. We value our independence as it allows us to be masters of our own destiny. We have no governing body telling us which way to turn and this independence brings a freedom and a confidence to do whatever we feel is right. There is a synergy and meeting of minds between challenger brands and independent creative agencies. Independent agencies often have a far more authentic, fresh and creatively exciting approach, which is arguably more from the entrepreneurial spirit that exists within the organization. A respect for the art and craft, rather than keeping an eye on the meter.


How important is it to work collaboratively?

Collaboration means everything to ODD. Although we are paid to have a point of view, we always listen first and create second. Whether it’s working with talent like Mike Skinner or Jamie Morgan from the Buffalo collective, or indeed with our clients themselves, being open-minded, self-aware, and able to collaborate without falling into the grey mundane area of compromise is a skill and a fine art which we continue to master. The most important thing for any agency is probably the leadership from a client—we are only ever as good as our client and the way in which they lead us and brief us.


Has the rise of social video online affected how you produce and direct?

People talk about content as being king, but the danger in today’s throwaway world is that content can be anything but king and all too often it can be a second-rate piece of moving image which easily gets ignored.

Millions of views are notched up for seemingly mundane and throwaway observations and user-generated clips. The tables have turned, the rules have changed and the laws of film-making have been thrown out of the window in what is a new landscape and environment for hosting and watching moving image.

The way in which moving image is consumed, given the new parameters of today’s social landscape, means that we’re now being asked to tell a story with a start, middle and end within 7 seconds. This can create simple, throwaway, ill-thought through pieces of work.

Equally, if well considered and applied with the right creative brush, pieces of content for rapid social streams like Vine and Instagram can be incredibly compelling, fun to watch and shareable. Production values no longer need to be as polished as they traditionally might have for a 30 to 60 second ad, and there’s even more onus on creating a unique creative concept.


How do videos for fashion brands differ from non-fashion brands?

This is an ongoing debate, which we have regularly within the office. Fashion video, lookbook films, commercials and content pieces within the fashion industry lead on style rather than substance in the main. Some people believe that moving image in the world of fashion can often lack narrative and a clear storyline.

The challenge that we find is that fashion clients tend to turn their backs on narrative. Detail is always labored with regards to lighting, styling, hair, make-up and so on, but a well-placed sequence of events, if carefully considered, can make the difference between a clichéd fashion film and something truly unique, compelling, informative, and fulfilling to watch. It feels as though the fashion industry is only just starting to understand the importance of narrative in the way it communicates to consumers.

‘The tables have turned, the rules have changed and the laws of film-making have been thrown out of the window for what is a new landscape and environment for hosting and watching moving image.’


What advice would you give to anyone wanting to work with fashion and film for an independent agency?

Fashion will always be about the image; the way it looks is as important as the story being told. To get the attention of an independent agency Creative Director or Art Director, the way you think must focus as much on style as it does on the content of what you’re creating. I truly believe that the balance of style and substance is the key to any film, regardless if it’s for fashion or any other sector in the commercial world.

Find a point of view, develop a signature style and exhaust it and then move on and try something new.

Figure 4.11

‘What a Christmas’

Primark Christmas campaign.

Figure 4.12

ODD show reel

A screengrab from

Social video

YouTube, the video-sharing website, is now one of the most popular search engines in the world, second only to Google. Video content is increasingly used on websites, blogs, and social networks and it is particularly popular in fashion because of its ability to show color, texture, fit, motion, and how garments look in use.

Video is also used to give visitors glimpses of new products, to screen runway shows, to offer a peek backstage, and increasingly to sell using ‘shoppable’ forms. It has become one of the most important marketing tools because the time people spend with digital media is beginning to outstrip the time they spend watching television; consequently, many retailers are pouring more money into digital video budgets. Video viewing time on smartphones and tablets doubled in 2012. By 2014 they had the highest click-through rate of all digital ad formats.


YouTube was launched in 2005. It has built-in features such as playlists and analytics that can be used in fashion marketing to provide information on numbers and locations of viewers. It is the second largest streaming service after Netflix. It allows viewers to upload user-generated content while various corporations and companies can use it to host videos through a partnership program. YouTube is owned by Google, the largest search engine in the world. LA-based clothing brand Wren’s First Kiss video was viewed 23 million times in its first three days online, and has now surpassed 80 million views.

Figure 4.13

Wren’s First Kiss, 2014

Natalia Bonifacci and Karim Saleh in First Kiss, directed by Tatia Pilieva.


Vimeo has become a popular site for creative professionals using video online. Unlike video platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo has focused on artistic quality and the videos that it features tend to have higher production values.

Shoppable videos

Video is also increasingly a site for shopping. Tube channels such as Fashion Tube and TV channels such as the Fashion Channel cover trends and looks as well as providing tips and tutorials, alongside the usual interviews, shoots, and shows. Moving image has also been central to the creation of shoppable content.

French Connection’s Youtique was the first YouTube fashion boutique to be launched, in 2010, with videos featuring stylist Louise Roe. As each video finished, viewers could click on a featured item, opening a page on French Connection’s site with the item in their shopping basket.

More innovative formats have also emerged as shoppable content. For example, in 2012, Danish denim brand ONLY produced The Liberation, a ‘fashion catalogue, movie game, music video, and the world’s first on demand, online, video, retail environment’. Viewers could click to switch to an interactive catalogue, change the storyline, purchase music content, and share on social networks.

Figure 4.14


French Connection’s Youtique videos featuring stylist Louise Roe.


Vine is a video-sharing service founded in 2012 and owned by Twitter. It allows members to record different scenes for up to six seconds; these play on a loop within their Vine feed, or on their Twitter and Facebook pages. They offer ‘little windows into the people, settings, ideas and objects that make up your life’.

Aesthetically, vines can look less polished than other outputs, but fashion brands are exploring their more immediate production quality in different ways.

Behind-the-scenes vines: Paul Smith teamed up with artist Kate Moross for clips of the show venue and prints and patterns from the autumn/winter 2013 collection. Calvin Klein partnered with Matt Baron for stop-motion views of the runway in 2015.

Personality vines: US fashion retailer, Gap, has used Vine’s stop-motion technique to show different campaign slogans. Urban Outfitters has used vines to promote in-store events.

How-to vines: Nordstrom has used how-to vines to show how to tie a tie. Oscar de la Renta has used vines to reveal glimpses of seamstresses at work, catwalk sets being built, and backstage make-up and manicures.

Detail vines: Dolce & Gabbana used vines for close-up views of details of clothes, jewelry and beaded accessories in its Milan autumn/winter 2013/14 show.


Snapchat is a mobile app launched in 2011. It allows members to send video and picture messages, known as snaps. Snaps disappear from the viewer’s phone within 10 seconds of being viewed.

A Stories feature allows several snaps to be stitched together and stored on a device for up to 24 hours. Other features include filters, a replay option, and special text.

Free People uses Snapchat to offer exclusive sneak peeks of new collections or behind-the-scenes shots. The brand interacts with members by answering questions via Snap videos. Calvin Klein used Snapchat to release content for its CK One fragrance campaign. According to the brand, it received more than one million views in just 90 days. In 2015 Burberry used Snapchat to show fans previews of their new collection ahead of London Fashion Week.

Figure 4.15

Jack Wills Snapchat content

Jack Wills using Twitter to promote its ‘Behind the Scenes’ Summer 2016 campaign on Snapchat.

Figure 4.16

Figure 4.17

Jack Wills Snapchat promotion

Jack Wills using Snapchat for its 2016 ‘Behind the Scenes’ Summer 2016 campaign.

Case study: Cinematique

‘The world’s first touchable video platform.’

Cinematique draws together film-makers, technologists, creative directors, and engineers to provide ‘a new way to experience video’ through its touchable video platform. Touching elements within a video opens up extra content such as the biography of a performer, the history of the scenery featured in the video, the ethos of the designer, or pricing information on featured objects.

The Cinematique platform has been used by a number of fashion retailers including NET-A-PORTER, Nowness, Kate Spade, Gap, and Stella McCartney, who have used it to make video content shoppable.

Randy Ross (2013), co-founder and CEO of Cinematique, argues that touch interfaces will become much more common in future: ‘People will just expect that they can touch things in a video, whether it’s a video with models showing off dresses or a car video or an architecture video or a real estate video where the furniture and the building are touchable.’

Figure 4.18

Cinematique homepage

The world’s first touchable video platform.


‘People will just expect that they can touch things in a video, whether it’s a video with models showing off dresses or a car video or an architecture video or a real estate video where the furniture and the building are touchable.’

 Randy Ross, co-founder and CEO of Cinematique (2013)

Figure 4.19

Cinematique ‘how it works’ page

Screengrabs from

The new experts


‘The one thing people really respond to on YouTube is people being personable.’

 Adam King, Head of Development at Diagonal View (2014)

Video has provided new ways of sharing the pleasures of fashion shopping. For example, in ‘un-boxing’ videos customers show themselves opening their purchases and these have become popular on YouTube.

There has been a broader move towards consumer online advice for all kinds of activities, including make-up and styling. This can be seen in the dramatic growth of online tutorials. Like fashion bloggers before them, fashion and beauty vloggers such as Zoe Sugg or Zoella have become the new generation of fashion experts.

Vloggers post ‘haul’ videos, showcasing the garments they’ve bought and giving advice on how to wear them. Branded ‘how-to’ videos are also on the rise; Liberty uses its TV channel to show different ways of wearing scarves.

Google Helpouts is a collaboration between Google and a range of help providers that matches consumers with individual experts and brands for live chat sessions. ASOS personal stylists use Google Helpouts to give fashion advice on a range of topics, either by appointment or during a drop-in slot.

Figure 4.20

Zoella’s fashion and beauty vlogs


Fashion Vlogging

Vlogs can be a great way to promote your fashion business, talk about interesting topics, thoughts and opinions, and communicate visually to a large audience. Here’s how …

#1: Plan

  • Choose a topic to base your vlogs on. Find a niche subject and try to narrow down your focus to one aspect of this.

  • Research video bloggers that inspire you, but try to be original. Your videos will be much better if you vlog about something you are genuinely interested in.

  • Research and choose a target audience before you set up your channel.

#2: Sign up

  • Sign up for a YouTube account and think of an appropriate name for your channel.

  • YouTube is owned by Google and if you already have a brand page on Google+ it is possible to create a YouTube channel by using your Google identity.

  • Alternatively, when you create a YouTube account for a brand, this will also automatically create a Google+ page for that brand too.

Figure 4.21

How to create a vlog

#3: Brand

  • Add a description to your channel that tells people what you do. This should be around 200 words in length. Your YouTube channel page is an opportunity to use your branding and optimize your visual identity.

  • Upload your channel header, using your asset folder artwork. Your channel header art needs to be a maximum of 2,560 by 1,440 pixels and up to 2 MB in size, saved as a JPG or PNG format.

  • Make sure that your channel image is consistent with your vlog identity and has the same look and feel as your other online branding. Don’t forget that you can also upload your channel icon image; this should be 800 × 800 pixels.

  • Add links to your channel window. You can select whether to display the links overlaid on the cover artwork, or show how many views your channel has.

  • Add any other channels that you would like to feature and any social network accounts.

  • Enter your channel ‘tags’. These are key words that are assigned to videos when you upload them. Tags are important as they are one of the first things that Google reads when ranking a video in terms of searching. They also help viewers find your content within YouTube’s own search engine.

  • Several tag words can be used to describe videos, as long as they are all relevant. Don’t forget to include adjectives as these are often used in search terms. YouTube also has some built-in tag suggestions, which will activate as soon as you start typing. Avoid using stop words.

Figure 4.22

An example storyboard

#4: Create

  • Your vlogs need some planning. Storyboards can help you pre-visualize your vlogs. A well-planned video can help you save time and frustration, as well as cut down on editing time. Make a storyboard to help plan things like images you need to have, the number of scenes, transitions between scenes, and effects. If you are speaking to camera, practice in front of a mirror, speaking clearly and modulating your voice.

  • Don’t make your videos too long. Five minutes is actually a long time for a vlog.

  • Make about six or seven vlogs. It’s better to make shorter vlogs that are of a good quality than longer ones that are not. Test them out on friends and colleagues to get feedback on any areas that might need improving.

  • Research tutorials on using editing software. There are lots of pre-installed applications that can help you such as Apple’s iMovie or Window’s Movie Maker. YouTube also allows you to edit your videos online with some basic tools.

#5: Build a following

  • Once you start posting your vlogs it’s important to stay active. Make a production schedule that is achievable and stick to it. Remember you will need to add some time for editing and uploading your content after you have created it. If you are new to vlogging, start with one post a week—you can always increase the frequency of your posts once you become more successful.

  • Search on Twitter for other vloggers who you would like to connect or collaborate with. See if you can promote each other.

  • Select your best vlog and post a link to it in the comments section of another well-known related video.

  • A ‘call to action’ is a good way of asking your viewers to engage with your videos or YouTube channel. These might be requests such as ‘Subscribe to my channel’, ‘Leave your comments below’ or ‘Like this video’. Sometimes these requests take the form of clickable text that is overlaid on the videos.

  • Some vloggers initiate a call to action by speaking to their viewers directly at the end of their videos.

  • Remember that YouTube is a ‘social’ platform. Take time to respond to any comments or messages. Your reputation in the YouTube community will start to grow when you gain more followers and viewers. If you reach a high number of regular viewers, you might want to become a YouTube partner to monetize your channel.

#6: Analyze

  • YouTube has a built-in Analytics tool that can help you to track the performance of your vlogs by looking at statistics for the entire channel or a specific post in order to gain a better insight into how they are being received. This means that the content of your vlogs can be measured over a period of time to determine what works well and what needs changing.

  • The Analytics tools can measure a number of factors such as numbers of views, performance, engagement, and top 10 videos. It can also be used to measure your viewers’ demographics, telling you their geographic location, how they are finding your vlogs, whether they were liked or disliked, whether they were shared, whether any ‘calls to action’ were clicked, and if so, how many times.