It's OK for intellectual feminists to like fashion

Blog title from Hadley Freeman's book The Meaning of Sunglasses : "Prada styles itself as the label it's OK for intellectual feminists to like".

The author is a bilingual fashion editor, writer and translator with a serious blog, cinema and magazine habit.

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When I was a child, around this time of the year, my mum would put catalogues from toy companies and stores on the kitchen table and my sister and I, armed with scissors and glue, would cut and collage our way to a Dear Santa letter. I am not sure we believed Father Christmas would read it but I retain fond memories of this early Advent tradition, which was usually accompanied by the sound of soup stewing in the pressure cooker. It meant “Christmas is coming” more surely than the festive lights being switched on in the city or the trees in display windows.

Although I definitely do not believe Father Christmas will read my Christmas wish list anymore, I have been trying to find a more elegant way to send gift ideas to my family than an email with loads of hyperlinks. 

I settled on a Pinterest board for a few reasons:

1) It somewhat reproduces the feel of my childhood Dear Santa letters by being mostly visual-based. Pinterest could develop the concept by offering alternative backgrounds to its uniform grey, especially during the Festive season. Some users have already created Dear Santa boards, though they are more for photos of actual letters to Santa rather than present desires.

2) It is easy for the board recipients. Say you are after an Alex Monroe necklace (a random idea, of course). You can pin it straight from the site where it is sold. If members of your family live abroad, you can find it on a site which delivers to the country where you will spend Christmas together. You can even add prices to pins so everyone knows what they are getting into. It takes away part of the fuss of gift purchasing; making the chore easier probably increases the chance of you getting what you want. It might not be a LEGO set anymore, but this is the aim of the Dear Santa letter.

3) It can be updated throughout the year and only shared in the run-up to Christmas. This avoids the “Mum do you remember that thing I said I wanted for Christmas back in July? No? Me neither” conversations. Unless it’s my mum of course, she is so organised she would have actually bought that thing in July.

A pinned Dear Santa letter isn’t without a few issues. Making your board available to others could reveal, for instance, an interest in a cheesy 1970s French TV series about a Nordic princess falling in love with an ambassador (another random idea, of course), which you might not want the whole world to know about. The secret feature Pinterest launched this time last year to enables users to track present ideas discreetly, but what happens if some family members are not on Pinterest and don’t want to join?

Another issue, if a board is shared with multiple family members, is how each person will know whether a present is still available to purchase. We can assume some will talk to each other, but it would be helpful if Pinterest could create an easy way to signal something is taken, ideally without forcing them to sign up to the site. On a much larger scale, this could be useful for wedding lists, a huge Pinterest demographic.

Since Pinterest has been working towards monetising its platform, for instance with promoted pins, how can brands integrate the Dear Santa concept in their marketing strategies and drive sales in the process?

1) Pinterest contests have become a part of most self-respecting social media strategy with user generated content. In June, jeweller and luxury watchmaker Piaget, celebrated its Rose collection, Piaget, by asking customers to follow, its official profile on the site, and create a new board called “La vie en rose”. The result? Additional followers and conversation generated across social media. The concept could easily be adapted to Dear Santa letters: pin everything you want from brand X for Christmas, maybe with the added incentive that a few users could win the contents of their board. Or, there could be evolutive boards: a brand encourages followers to pin articles, to take photos of the present being unwrapped, and then of themselves using it. This could provide good cross-platform user engagement in combination with Instagram and Twitter.

2) For a company, having an item pinned is one thing, but the real money comes with conversion. Pinterest represents over a quarter of all social media sales, and in 2012, the average order value was nearly double that of Facebook. Although brands might be happy you want their product for Christmas, the actual spenders, in this case, are your family members. This is a unique chance to convert them to the brand so initiatives like free shipping for customers coming from Pinterest would be appreciated.


Posted at 4:39pm and tagged with: Social media, Pinterest, christmas,.

Cartier’s magical online festive experience, Cartier Winter Tale, where the panther, feline emblem of the French luxury jewellery brand, walks and jumps through a snowy fantasy world sprinkled with jewels, calls for comparison with the cinema adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Both creations display snow-covered landscapes, fantastic journeys, magical metaphors and luxury items. In Cartier’s wonderland however, it’s both winter and Christmas.

Images 1, 3, 6, 8 - screencaps from Cartier

Image 2 from The Wardrobe Door

All other images are screencaps from The Chronicles of Narnia The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Disney DVD

Posted at 3:17pm and tagged with: Brand communication, Cartier, Classy film, christmas, online communication, Luxury brand,.

'Tis the season. Forget the John Lewis advert and Waitrose’s School of Christmas Magic: the best Christmas sale strategy this year comes courtesy of Net-a-Porter, with a best-in-class gifting page worth emulating.

Playing on its usual strengths of accessibility and offer, the luxury commerce site delivers a shopping experience with ready-to-click-through edits of “Stocking Fillers”, “Can’t go wrong" options and "Exclusive Holiday Sweaters”, many already sold out. With a wide variety of prices and gift types, it offers enough possibilities to find the perfect present for someone you like and know, someone you lack inspiration for and the aunt you dislike but owe a gift to.

All those strengths can also be found in a MR PORTER email sent out this morning. Untitled “Something for the Ladies”, it offers male subscribers an edit of ten presents to offer the women in their life. Claudia Plant, editorial director of Net-a-Porter selected garments and accessories fashionable enough to please her core customer but not so fashionable they would scare men away. She chose sexy without falling into the expectable lingerie and, again, picked into price points and age ranges covering the wife, the sister, the lover and the mother.

This is really good cross-shopping, also demonstrated in the “Gift For Him - MR PORTER” tab on Net-a-Porter, which links to the MR PORTER gifting page - although the reverse doesn’t exist at this point.

My favourite gift is, without a doubt, The Ultimate Shoe Subscription which, for £8000 is the gift which keeps on giving: the recipient will be able to choose a pair a month throughout 2012 for a total value of £8000.

Since this will however remain an unattainable dream this holiday season, here is the rest of my list to Santa:

Day Birger and Mikkelsen boho embellished resin cuff, £50

Hartford polka dot scarf, £105

Yves Saint Laurent arty gold-plated glass ring, £140

Paul Smith Shoes and Accessories copper alloy pin up cufflinks, £60

Moschino snowman intarsia wool sweater, £490

All photos from Net-a-Porter and MR PORTER

Posted at 8:38pm and tagged with: net-a-porter, Brand communication, online shopping, Christmas,.