Instagram Stories & the Social Media Pendulum Swing.

This is not about the power of social media.  You would have to be living under a rock, likely happily so, to be unaware of the role social media plays into our everyday lives.  In fact, even when you are completely aware of its impact, you likely still aren't aware of exactly HOW much.  As established as the notion of social media is in our society, it is still a new and unpredictable medium that is prone to ebbs and flows, as well as the rapid growth of trends.

 (Image c/o PlannThat)

(Image c/o PlannThat)

One of those trends that has been grown at an incredible pace and has arguably changed the way we use & view social media, is the content shift to a more realistic, transparent peek into polished perception that platforms like Instagram make it so easy to achieve.  

As with any changes to social media platforms, it's usually quickly attacked (since it's likely we all JUST got used to a new feature) and just as quickly embraced.  This is exactly what happened when Instagram Stories were introduced.  Many saw it as one more thing to have to update and something none of us needed.  Fast-forward just a few months and BOOM.  Instagram Stories has taken over as the most popular feature on the platform.  And why is this?  In my opinion, it's part of the pendulum swing.   

A side effect of rapid growth (or any growth, really) is that at some point, the bubble bursts.  In the fast-paced world that social media has created, these bubbles pop at an alarming rate.  The reason everyone fell in love with social media in the first place was the ability share authentic content and be connected to brands in a way that demanded transparency from them.  As platforms became more sophisticated, everyone got incredibly clever and the content followed suit.  Brands could launch full campaigns on social media.  Influencers, who were originally embraced as the alternative to polished models in magazines, became celebrities that represented the secretly unattainable.  Instagram became a glorified Pinterest board, confusing our sense of reality.  

And then that bubble burst with the introduction of Facebook Live and Instagram Stories.  You might still be able to throw a filter over it, but what you see on Instagram Stories is primarily undoctored.  You see the polished content in your feed and then the behind-the-scenes in your live videos.  That balance is a beautiful thing.  It is a reminder that the people and accounts we follow all work really hard to deliver content that APPEARS to be perfect.  It has helped to hold influencers and brands accountable.  It has helped the consumers see a reality that only makes the polished content more authentic.  

What will happen next?  It's up for grabs and I can't wait to see what it is. #InstagramVsReality

When A Brand Does Good & Gets It Right.

We live in a day & age where producing a strong product is just one element of being a successful brand.  As consumers are bombarded from every angle by merchandise and new companies and fads, there is a shift from just having the best value product (i.e. the fast fashion boom) to having a story to tell.

I have had the pleasure of working for brands with incredible stories on top of products to be proud to represent.  Bulova Watches has a heritage that goes deep into the DNA of United States history.  Third Piece is a female-led knitwear brand that works to empower makers in the Boston community.  Forevermark not only produces the most beautiful diamonds you will ever see, they also work tirelessly to support responsible sourcing and the communities in which they mine.  Which means I have an especially close bond with the notion of giving back to the world around us.  

Increasingly, brands are getting on board with knowing that it's not just enough to stand for a good product, but that they must stand for something greater at the same time.  But this is a tricky initiative at best.  It's a fine line between doing something good for the sake of doing it & doing something good that the brand can truly embody.  It is hard to be successful in looking beyond yourself as a brand.  So when someone gets it right, it deserves attention.

Enter Lacoste and their recent Save Our Species initiative!  Supporting wildlife conservation, Lacoste effortlessly created a product that not only supported their aesthetic, but also made a strong statement in a simple, effective way.  Known for their polos which sport the iconic crocodile, the brand chose 10 endangered species to put in place of their regular spokes-animal.  It's a soft touch approach, simply changing the green animal on a white polo, but creates maximum impact.

These limited-edition polos have found themselves in such high demand that Lacoste has had to announce that they released reserved stock that had been kept for internal use.  This campaign is all about the simple details.  

  • Each of the species chosen has their own detailed paragraph on the Save Our Species landing page, growing an greater awareness and empowering the consumer to tell a specific story.
  • Of the 10 species chosen, there is a number to represent those animals still in the wild today.  And the number of polos created for each species reflects that specific number.  
  • The marketing efforts are clean, simple & impactful.  Green on white, allowing the product to tell the story (which is a feat in itself).
  • Even the packaging continues to tell the message, with the polos arriving in a custom box that outlines all the represented endangered species inside.

Will I be running out to buy one of these polos?  No, I won't.  Partly because I don't wear polos and partly because I'm not comfortable spending $185 on a shirt (again, that I know I won't wear).  But will I have a changed perception of Lacoste?  Oh hell yes.  This is a functional activity for the brand but it is a stunning show of brand awareness.  Well done, team.

(Image & video c/o Lacoste)

Bringing Tech into the Fitting Room.

In one of the wonderfully curious groups I'm a part of on Facebook this week, a user asked the opinions of the members on the increase of technology in fitting rooms.  As someone who does the majority of their shopping online these days, as so many do, it had been some time since I had given much thought to this industry shift (or experimentation, depending on your view).  Though I hold a pretty strong opinion about it.

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And it's all about balance.  My experience with fitting room technology has been short but very effective.  At Zara in London, I entered a fitting room with armfuls of garments which a touchscreen board in the room was able to recognize and line up for me.  Seriously, it knew what was hanging in the room waiting for me to try on.  And I LOVED it.  I was able to scroll through to check prices, different styling options, request another size to be brought to me, even buy directly from the website if I didn't want to continue the in-store misery of waiting in line.  It was just enough to completely enhance the experience of being in-store and blended the comfort of shopping online with being able to interact with the physical product.  And a bonus to the retailer, I am confident I ended up spending much more than I would have without that helpful tool in the fitting room with me.

As we are so prone to doing when it comes to exploration, however, it's all gone a bit too far.  Recently, new fitting room functionality for some brands has built upon what I experienced and are now presenting interactive mirrors.  The WORST part of being in a fitting room (aside from lighting...WHY can we not figure out better lighting?!).

Try on a dress in one color and the mirror can change it to another color so you don't have to change.  Record a 360 degree view of yourself for review or share it on social media/send it to a friend.  Use artificial intelligence to suggest a full outfit from other items you do not have in the room with you to compliment the piece you've tried on.  It's just all a bit too much.  It's a bit too far when it comes to laziness (just try on the other color dress).  And it's all too much feeling like there is someone in the fitting room with me.  I also have no interest in knowing that a video was recorded of me in a fitting room.

I say all this likely just being at the beginning of a movement.  As retail works so hard to stay relevant, these types of updates will very probably become commonplace, and I'll suddenly be a massive proponent of the new ease of in-store shopping.  However, right now, a little goes a long way for me.

Read more about technology in fitting rooms from Racked here & Business of Fashion here.

 

The Potential Genius of Tiffany x Lady Gaga

As most of us were glued to our TVs this weekend, some of us were focused on the game, some of us showed up for the commercials, and some of us shoveled guacamole into our mouths while waiting for the Half Time show. And I'm sure it will come as no surprise when I say I missed the first quarter to go to yoga before settling in to get into some deep thought about the commercials and to see what the Half Time show was going to deliver. 

I have to admit that the way the commercials are delivered is changing rapidly with the times. Just as the shows at Fashion Week are now shifting to sell items available in the moment, Super Bowl ads are being shared before the big day itself. And you felt the effect this year especially. There were a few that really delivered and a lot that...well, just didn't. One that I looked most forward to seeing during the game, I had already seen in the days before. Tiffany & Co. was surprising to see as not only a TV ad, but one during the Super Bowl was even more shocking. But it aligned...it made sense when you looked at it in the big picture. There was a lot to say, there was an impact to be made, and it wasn't random. It was well-timed and well-delivered.

Featuring Lady Gaga, the star of the Half Time show, introducing a new line of jewelry and making a point about being a rebel and creativity...it was a smart departure. And though I couldn't figure out exactly how to put it into words, Business of Fashion was able to and it's a brilliant article.

Tiffany must leave its comfort zone and move faster than it’s used to, truly embracing change rather than just showing ads about it.
— Business of Fashion

As someone who has had one foot in the door of luxury accessories for about 5 years now and most recently for a diamond company, it is a fascinating industry and one that is starting to realize that the market is changing. As I saw in the watch industry, there is a lot of hesitation. It can be a very traditional industry...it always has been...but nothing is 'traditional' anymore. 

Tiffany is an icon. But the greatest icons now how to shift with the times. We are seeing a change in gender roles, a change in sexuality and relationships, a change in what is important to us as a consumer. And this article hits the nail on the head, not just for Tiffany but for the industry as a whole. You can't just advertise the gift to buy the woman in your life and it's not all about the big diamond ring. There is huge and missed opportunity supporting the LGBTQ community, the fast-fashion mavens, offerings for men, and so on. 

And where the article gets it REALLY right is that you can't just put an ad out with Lady Gaga waxing lyrical about change and a new capsule collection. You have to reinvent and take risks. And I hope Tiffany does take lessons for their unique brand ambassador. They need to.

Unfortunately, it looks like they are falling at the first hurdle. When you visit the website today in the middle of all the incredible press about the ad, Lady Gaga and the new collection, you can barely find it on the homepage that is covered with gifts to buy your sweetheart for Valentine's Day. The small black bar at the top saying 'Lady Gaga for Tiffany. Learn More.' is very easy to miss and very secondary to all the other messaging on the site. It should be a full takeover. It should hit you in the face when you get to their site. They should be OWNING  it instead of testing it. So here's to hoping it gets better.

And here's to hoping that the HardWare silver wrap bracelet finds its way to my wrist in the future. As well as the story behind the collection being told because it's beautiful and hidden. Come on, Tiffany, take the risk.

Kate Spade Says, 'No Pictures Please!'

The Kate Spade presentation at NYFW is always one of my favorites, with over-the-top themes and painfully sweet styling.  It's basically a hotbed for social sharing each season.  But this year, the brand (who relies very heavily upon and succeeds at social media integration) set strict restrictions on the attendees of their presentation, asking that no images of full looks be shared.

The reason?  They don't want to take away from the intimate feel of the event and also want attention to be focused on the collection they have hitting stores now, not the one that will be hitting stores in five months.  And I want to support them.  But it also seems a bit bizarre to me.  At the risk of sounding like a celebrity conspiracy theorist, does that sound like a brand that is struggling to get their current collection to sell well?  Wouldn't all attention for the brand be attention for the pieces that are physically being sold right now?

As one very astute comment put it on the WWD article

Good luck with that, Kate! You can’t create a monster and then think you’re going to tame it!
— Fashionator on WWD

There are cycles to everything we experience as humans and I am sure social media will not be immune.  But there is a difference between the cyclical nature of the world and attempts at reversing the effects of a cultural phenomenon.  Especially one that you 1. helped create and 2. still rely on as a brand.  Also, cat still jumped out of the bag.

Just my two cents...fancy sharing yours?

Desigual Meets Snapchat Filters at NYFW.

There is no denying that Snapchat is something of a beast in the world of social media at the moment.  Instagram Stories have jumped in to play the game recently, as well, but there is something that keeps Snapchat alive.  As someone who is uses the platform but is probably skewing a bit too old to really be the main market (the highest age range represented is 18-24), there are some functionalities that I really love about it.  Topping that list would be the usage of filters that have now become something of cult classics.

And as we find ourselves in the depths of NYFW, Desigual (along with the skilled artists from MAC Cosmetics) decided to recreate our favorite filters on Snapchat in real life...forgoing the normal avant-garde make-up looks we so often see hit the runway.  It's a hysterical (and somehow beautiful) look at how to both lovingly embrace and poke a bit of fun at the world as we all see it now.  

I think more often than not, I see clips on Snapchat announcing 'I wish I had this filter on all the time', and the Desigual show basically said 'well, you can...but it's a bit ridiculous in reality, isn't it?'  But I am going to guess that more than one Halloween costume has now been inspired!

(Images c/o Getty)

Fall Fashion Meets Cozy Luxury.

If you know me well, you'll probably know that my favorite season is the cool-breeze and Halloween-filled Fall.  If you don't know me, hi there, welcome!

This year I have an extra level of excitement for the arrival of the impending Autumn weather, which is really kicking off today with the launch of the new website & collection for a great company I'm working with called Third Piece.  There's a lot that makes this brand incredibly special, from their hard work at 'connecting creativity' by offering events in the Northeast to giving their customers the opportunity to buy product handmade by makers in Boston ('Made By Us') or to purchase kits to make all their pieces yourself, along with a sweet tote and luxurious proprietary yarn ('Made By You').

Their products are gorgeous.  The women who run the company are damn cool and inspiring.  And there is something so motivating about disrupting the luxury market and giving the consumer the chance to make their own high-end fashion or home wares.  I can't wait to get my first pieces and maybe even try to make my own along the way.

Check out the new site and new collection here.  What's first on your shopping list?

IKEA Has Our Bad Social Media Norms Nailed

Working in social media, especially since (almost) its inception, is a fascinating and exhausting ride.  I remember Facebook when you could only log-in using a US college email address.  I remember the pinnacle of popularity was making it into the Top 8 of someone's MySpace profile. And I remember the efforts we had to go to when it came to keeping in touch with people we encountered across the world. 

Times have changed.  Our vision of the world has changed. Our sense of reality is painfully real and also painfully distorted.  The world is so incredibly small but our eyes are open to so much more.  Judgement and kindness finds us all in leaps and bounds. And it all gets to be a bit much at times. My brother has quit and rejoined Instagram so much that I can't keep track. I have moments myself of saying 'I really wish I didn't need to be on Facebook, even if it was just for a month'.  

But our world is connected in this way now. When I have a day out and don't 1. check my Instagram or 2. look at things with a 'would this look cool on Instagram?' filter, the pride I have in my behavior is beyond comprehension. And IKEA has us all pegged with a genius new commercial that speaks to our new ridiculous reality and very genuinely brings it back to their brand.

If there is one thing I've learned when it comes to social media, it's this: it is an incredible place to be inspired, but you have to always remember, it is a thoughtful curation of the world we all want to see. Reality isn't that polished, so as IKEA says 'let's relax'.

Focus & Fun: The Genius of Passion Planner.

I have, for as long as I can remember, been completely obsessed with office/school supplies and the joy of organization.  To clarify, not the Marie Kondo-type of organization.  I bought 'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up' and made it through about 20 pages before I had to put it down out of frustration and a lack of reality.  In reality, there is no one-size-fits-all.  And what works for you now will need to adapt and change as your own life changes.

Enter Passion Planner, a Kickstarter campaign finding major (and deserved) success.  Designed by someone who was frustrated after 'doing all the right things' (good college, smart career choices, etc) but seemed to feel stuck.  The story of Passion Planner itself really spoke to me and many others, if we are being very honest.  It is so incredibly easy to feel the weight of what you SHOULD be doing, to the point of it making you crazy.

The beauty of Passion Planner is that it turns the idea of organization and planning from something you need to do to stay sane, and makes it something that energizes and inspires you. 'I want to make love, gratitude, and self-motivation the primary force that propels action. I want to help people pursue their passions; to pursue things that make them excited to get up everyday, because when you follow your passion you never have to work a day in your life.  Work feels like playful experimentation, projects stop being scary and start looking like adventures, failures look like valuable experiences, and success is just the remnants of a beautiful process, not the end goal. When you create your ideal reality through action, the present becomes a gift that you live every moment of your life.'

Understanding this sounds like quite a bold statement for something that is truly just a very cool office supply, it's incredible what Passion Planner has helped me to achieve.  What I had always gotten hung up on before was the 'should' and 'need' of life's mundane tasks.  But using Passion Planner, you're encouraged to set goals for yourself that are both personal and professional.  It asks you to set a focus for each day.  It expands the way you think and gives you tips and tricks to recenter during your time planning.  Passion Planner also asks you to look back at how you spent and handled your time/tasks and help it shape how you continue to move forward.  It does all this by allowing you to customize the features to best suit your own needs.  If that isn't enough, they give back.  

I've just ordered my 2017 Passion Planner and I'm already incredibly excited to get my hands on it.  My 2016 planner is scribbled in and drawn on and organized impeccably.  Not because it needs to be...but because it was motivating and fun to use it as a roadmap for where my days take me.

Check out the full collection here!  And visit their YouTube channel for great videos for tips, tricks, hacks and inspiring stories that will help you to embrace your own passion.

(Images c/o Passion Planner)