The Internet made immediate sense to me,” Chief Digital Officer at LVMH Ian Rogers said at Business of Fashion’s annual VOICES conference.
And for me, very few statements have felt more true. But can you remember a time when baseball — and not browsing the World Wide Web — was America’s (the world’s?) favorite past time? A time before our cell phones were smart mini-computers? Do you remember fashion week content (with a capital “c”) before social media? Can you recall the age before being a “fashion blogger” was a viable way to make an income?
There was just print, just that rack of fashion magazines.
Growing up, TeenVogue (and sometimes Vogue, if my mom let me get it) was my only access into the dream world that is the fashion industry. It wasn’t until I was 13 or 14 years old that, in TeenVogue, I read about a girl who modeled her daily outfits and put the photos on a website called Fashiontoast. And a girl with an insane shoe collection created the site Sea of Shoes. A girl who coined the term “Man Repelling” professed her love for harem pants and Canadian tuxedos on Man Repller dot com.
The Internet democratized fashion with the rise of the blogger and their blogs. For a teenage girl living in the literal heart of America (read: Kansas City), fashion blogs were like opening Pandora’s box on an industry built on fantasy and exclusivity — and one that was also primarily housed in New York City. The Internet spurred on new perspectives, new subcultures, new voices.
I’ll save you the story of “How digital (almost) killed print and the entire fashion industry freaked out.” That’s a tale as old as time by now. And it’s obvious that technology isn’t going anywhere (well DuUrRR, is probably what you just said to yourself). Well this is where Ian Rogers, a former Apple exec and current Chief Digital Officer at LVMH (the luxury conglomerate which owns fashion powerhouses like Givenchy, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, etc etc etc), comes in.
During his talk at BoF’s recent VOICES conference, he spills his knowledge on the question that everyone loves to ask: what is digital doing for the future of fashion? You can watch the video below, or keep reading for a friendly bulleted list of the main points from his 20 minute talk.
- Culture is a prerequisite to product. The Internet distributes culture, and if a consumer doesn’t buy into a brands online culture it’s extremely likely that they will not buy a $400+ handbag!
- Mass markets are now niche markets. Aka subculture on subculture on subculture.
- Quality beats out marketing in terms of efficiency for acquiring customers.
- When brands integrate online innovation into all aspects of the company, not just silo-ing it into a single corner, is when they’ll get the best results.
- Lastly, and maybe most importantly, fashion needs to replace the word “digital” with “innovation.” Talking about digital is like acknowledging oxygen, WE ALL KNOW IT’S THERE.
Ian’s optimistic opinion of technology in fashion is refreshing after what feels like years of denial from nearly the entire industry. Just because times are changing (and have changed!), doesn’t mean it’s bad. Different, yes; but not bad per se. Technology = opportunity!!