Fashion Month 2021: How Fashion Brands are Shaking Up Online Shopping

Streaming and social are discovery engines for young shoppers

Among the major fashion houses, livestreams and pre-recorded runway events are the status quo this season, with livestream events tending to outperform videos uploaded by second-parties after the fact. 

Prada paraded their Fall/Winter Women’s Collection through faux fur-lined corridors live on YouTube. Coach launched Coach TV. Louis Vuitton debuted a live-streamed fashion film starring East Coast hip hop godfather Mos Def. So many brands are engaging with customers in this way that it prompted New York Times fashion critic Vanessa Friedman to call the four weeks of events “the ultimate D.I.Y. streaming series.”

Covid-19 concerns were of course the catalyst for many brands making the leap to digital, but fashion-crazed, social media-obsessed shoppers are the reason they will likely stay. According to a survey by Bazaarvoice, 47 percent of 25-34 year olds—and 43 percent of 18-24 year olds—regularly use social media to discover new purchases. 

Savvy brands are actively exploring new ways to interface with these enthusiastic young customers. Some of the best Fashion Week campaigns go beyond tried-and-true livestreams. 

Shoppable livestreams bring back the impulse buy

As YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram ready their platforms to host live shopping experiences, Fashion Week season provides a nice preview of how shoppable livestream channels will take shape.

Cosmopolitan Magazine and Klarna’s two-day shopping livestream—held on the platform ShopShops—turned the solitary act of online shopping into a social event. Part of the appeal are the limited time deals from retail partners including Macy’s, Adidas, and Farfetch. 

But a second, arguably larger part of the appeal is getting to hang out in a shopping diva’s equivalent of a Twitch stream, making heart-eyed emoji at desirable garments, interacting with the event host, and scoring fashion secrets.

Livestreamers, whether organic or celebrity, are an important element. They create buzz among their followers. Their endorsement of a product gives online shoppers a much needed boost in confidence. And they quickly convert consumer interest into sales, as viewers feel that they are getting a hot tip on a great deal from their “friend.” 

For these reasons, shoppable livestreams have become a massively popular trend in China’s e-commerce industry where an estimated 500M+ livestream shoppers made purchases last year. 

TikTok understands this dynamic better than anyone. Their month-long celebration of all things fashion will be capped off with the TikTok Runway Finale on March 18, a shoppable livestream where fashion influencers do the modelling alongside WNBA athletes. The event comes on the heels of a shoppable fashion pilot in December with Walmart.

Tailoring product lines to social media trends

Several fashion brands have created collections with the aim of making waves in fashion-centric online communities. For instance, Pomelo’s #BeBoldBeYou hashtag campaign, 52.9M views and counting, challenges fashion creators to mix, match, and dance-off in garments from their thirteen piece TikTok collection. 

The strategy is a win-win-win. Pomelo gains an army of product ambassadors creating user-generated content in their exclusive line of crop tops, oversized tees, and reflective pants. Fashion creators on the platform gain an original piece of content and a trending hashtag where they can sport their style and increase their follower count. And TikTok further establishes their platform as a trendy fashion destination.

Elsewhere, fashion designers are creating collections influenced by internet subcultures to gain brand recognition among the in-crowd. Popping with neon yellows and shiny synthetic materials, Dolce & Gabbana’s Fall 2021 collection joins the Y2K fashion craze. The style is a throwback to the fashion trends of yesteryear, curated on Instagram hashtags like #y2kfashion, #2000sfashion, and @paris2000s—an account that posts nostalgic images of Paris Hilton.

Heaven, Marc Jacobs’ teen-themed collection, takes notes from similar style-savvy sub-communities. To market their robot girl baby tees and nylon shoulder bags inspired by classic anime, the brand has worked with a number of young influencers, including the Instagram sex advice-guru and selfie-taker Eileen Kelly, and the Japanese YouTuber and fashion icon Kemio.

Gamified experiences ignite consumer interest

ComplexCon is a mecca for sneakerheads. So when the annual Long Beach streetwear and street culture festival was canceled last year, event organizers had to scramble to come up with a way to launch the festival’s lineup of limited edition sneakers.

Their answer came in the form of ComplexLand, a three day, digital-only event accessible through any web browser. Taking cues from Second Life and open-world video games, the fully shoppable virtual activation generated buzz and publicity on Twitter and Instagram

Ebay sponsored a Sneaker of the Year scavenger hunt to give away free pairs of Adidas Yeezy Boost 350s. Virtual festival-goers got their hands on a limited edition pair of Versace’s TriGreca sneakers. And the community took to social media to crow about their exclusive finds.

Similarly, Louis Vuitton drew fashion aficionados out of the house with a quirky, traveling, augmented reality playground. Currently in route across North America, the pop-up store lets visitors search for Pokemon-esque characters amidst Virgil Abloh’s 2021 Spring/Summer wardrobe. The hands-on nature of the event encourages sales, while the theme park vibe motivates attendees to post videos and snaps that could go viral.

If you’re curious about how these strategies can benefit your brand, reach out to and let’s strategize!