“We have this time to truly get rid of everything that doesn’t work, and replace it with things that do,” says London and LA-based Fashion marketing and communications maven, Phillip Bodenham on a phone interview. He’s speaking of the state of the fashion industry and, in particular, his corner of the business. “When has the world all at one time been given such time to reflect and figure this out? It’s an opportunity not to be wasted.”
The founder of venerable luxury communications agency, SPRING, has a career that started with him as an industry prodigy running UK comms for Tom Ford’s YSL at the age of 21. These days, he’s practicing what he preaches and using COVID as an opportunity to lead the evolution of Fashion PR and Marketing in the age of Corona.
“I see clients and hear industry talk about media spend migrating to 70% and above to online because we have to follow the consumer and everyone is glued to their phones. Are they reading a title in print or the equivalent online platform, or are they getting brand information from social media, VIP’s and influencers?” Bodenham wonders aloud.
“It’s easy to say that a certain magazine’s reader is highly targeted to your customer, but I question how much that really matters because high-spenders are looking at street style and digital shopping and Instagram, just as everyone else. I’ve also heard buyers are no longer reading Vogue reviews to find new brands, they’re looking at what streetstyle girls are wearing. It’s a new world.”
What he speaks of is a very different scenario from where the industry has operated since the days when Pret-a-Porter became widespread in the 1920s and 30s—the last serious disruption in fashion before the more recent shakeup of the digital era.
“In the past the brand showed the collection on a runway, the collection went to the PR team, the clothes were shot by the magazines which customers would read and then went into stores to buy what they saw. It was very linear,” explains Bodenham.
“That went out the window when digital came along, which has been a good thing because it’s made things more egalitarian and democratic. We now have multiple cards to play across channels and it gives our clients more opportunity to cut through in their own unique way. It just needs careful handling which comes only from experience.”
Now, the industry is facing another disruption due to COVID and Bodenham believes it’s much bigger that anything we’ve seen in recent history, with the potential to change the way the industry operates altogether in what he predicts will be a complete reorganization.
SHIFTING THE CENTER
“What do the four fashion cities really offer?” he questions.
By four fashion cities he means New York,