Fashion: creating unique content, not clothes, as a morale booster during the Covid-19 pandemic
Fashion houses have begun reaching out to their massive global communities via social media to encourage creativity at home, healthy living and inter-connectivity during the global lockdown caused by coronavirus.
Balmain, Karl Lagerfeld, Gucci and Alexander McQueen have all launched new initiatives this past week, with a wide variety of programs and proposals. Examples include yoga classes and live-stream DJ performances, as well as online catalogues of archived videos, courses in 3D creation and online embroidery. For its 40.1 million followers, Milan-based Gucci even dreamed up a course on health and well-being, partnering with The Sex Ed for – a digital platform focused on wellness and sexuality – for a podcast.
In Paris, Balmain unveiled #BalmainEnsemble, while Lagerfeld launched #Stayathomewithkarl. Over in London, Alexander McQueen has developed #McQueenCreators. Moreover, at a moment when classical ads for fashion and accessories (both in print and social media) seem almost in bad taste given the massive losses of lives in the pandemic, these initiatives introduce an almost holistic approach for many brands to give their giant social media communities.
Lagerfeld kicked off the action with a performance on Friday by DJ Chelina Manuhutu inside a skyline loft in Amsterdam, where one could witness her playing on a desk – on which lay a mini statue of the late Karl Lagerfeld.
This evening will be Alexandra Raoufi (a staffer in the house’s ready-to-wear department, who is also a certified yoga instructor)'s turn. Tune in at 6PM CET, April 1, for her beginner-level class.
Also in the pipeline, Lagerfeld’s design director Hun Kim, who will be holding a drawing class. As well as Karl’s former personal assistant and the house’s brand ambassador, Sébastien Jondeau, who will be organizing an at-home workout.
The house plans to notify its 6.1 million Instagram followers a day ahead of each event, and then stream them through Instagram stories before reposting the whole thing on the brand's feed for those who may want to watch it later.
“Created in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the initiative seeks to help entertain people during this challenging period — hopefully bringing a smile to their faces while they are requested to remain inside their homes,” the house said in a release.
On the other side of the Seine, creative director Olivier Rousteing began #BalmainEnsemble with a video reprise of his latest menswear collection, which was shown in January and featured African-inspired costumes, as a reference to the designer’s recent discovery that he is of half Ethiopian and half Somali origin.
“Let’s always remember we are stronger, we are bolder and more creative when we are together even when we are forced apart,” said Rousteing in a mini video on Instagram, to Balmain’s 10.1 million followers.
Next up are Style Files, where the house’s design team will offer home-bound Balmain Army members some weekly challenges. Or Global Atelier, when followers will be allowed video entrée into the design process and discussions on the song, themes, fabrics, and cuts selection for future seasons.
The house of McQueen has been running repeated messages to its 9.5 million followers such as: "Stay Home", "Protect the NHS", and "Save Lives". This afternoon, it began #McQueenCreators with an invitation to sketch the dramatic and voluminous Rose dress that creative director Sara Burton designed for the brand's Autumn/Winter 2019 season. This sketching idea was taken from the Roses installation in McQueen’s New Bond Street flagship open studio. Future ideas include republishing images created from brand followers across the former's social media. Or digital tutorials linking Alexander McQueen’s design studios to students and universities.
All of these initiatives demonstrating that the mentioned four houses are effectively keeping their communities close to them during the dark days of Covid-19.
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