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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Email: fashionmemex(at)gmail.com

The Boston bombings, the Iranian election protests, Osama bin Laden’s death, I learnt of on Twitter. Baby Cambridge’s birth and gender I learnt of on Gmail, when the luxury multibrand womenswear retailer Avenue 32 sent an email “It’s a BOY! A royal email” at 20:48, less than 20 minutes after Kensington Palace had announced the birth

Avenue 32 offered customers “free delivery (pun intended) on all orders until the end of the week” with the code CONGRATS32.

The website is joining a flurry of brands capitalising on the royal birth, which according to the City might boost the economy, just like the 2011 wedding and 2012 Jubilee celebrations did (Chris Giles in the Financial Times disagrees). 

Companies using Baby Cambridge to promote an unrelated product was expected. What I didn’t see coming was that I would learn the sex of the future monarch in a commercial email, which for me is a brand new way to receive news. Could that be something for brands to look into?

Posted at 3:33pm and tagged with: Royal Family, email marketing,.

Is maje trying to bridge the Paris-province fashion gap? 

Growing up in Neversa city with a population of 43,000, 260 kilometres away from Paris, Fashion Carrousel and I often resented the Paris-province fashion divide.

It wasn’t just that fashion shows took place in Paris but that, from reading magazines, we felt that the best stores and all the cool fashion-related events were in the capital.

Brands have picked up on this general provincial fashion frustration. They are trying to cancel out the Paris province inequality thanks to a smart us of their website.

Today, French womenswear brand maje invited its entire database to an evening of shopping and pampering, in association with L’Oréal Professionnel and essie, in six of its Paris stores.

"Maje doesn’t forget any of its customers" promises the brand. For clients not living in the capital or unable to attend the event, it is offering a bright yellow passport cover, luggage tag and essie nail polish to the first 150 people who make a purchase on its digital commerce website.

The two offers aren’t quite equivalent, especially in terms of reach. However, I welcome the initiative and hope it will lead to an ongoing use of the digital space by maje so that no matter where you live, you can benefit from its commercial initiatives. 

Next step: segmenting the database so that subscribers only receive invitations to events that are geographically-relevant - ensuring they don’t suffer from needless fashion event envy. 

Posted at 7:35pm and tagged with: Best practice, email marketing, MAJE, france,.

Is maje trying to bridge the Paris-province fashion gap? 
Growing up in Nevers, a city with a population of 43,000, 260 kilometres away from Paris, Fashion Carrousel and I often resented the Paris-province fashion divide.
It wasn’t just that fashion shows took place in Paris but that, from reading magazines, we felt that the best stores and all the cool fashion-related events were in the capital.
Brands have picked up on this general provincial fashion frustration. They are trying to cancel out the Paris province inequality thanks to a smart us of their website.
Today, French womenswear brand maje invited its entire database to an evening of shopping and pampering, in association with L’Oréal Professionnel and essie, in six of its Paris stores.
"Maje doesn’t forget any of its customers" promises the brand. For clients not living in the capital or unable to attend the event, it is offering a bright yellow passport cover, luggage tag and essie nail polish to the first 150 people who make a purchase on its digital commerce website.
The two offers aren’t quite equivalent, especially in terms of reach. However, I welcome the initiative and hope it will lead to an ongoing use of the digital space by maje so that no matter where you live, you can benefit from its commercial initiatives. 
Next step: segmenting the database so that subscribers only receive invitations to events that are geographically-relevant - ensuring they don’t suffer from needless fashion event envy. 

Harper’s Bazaar and My-Wardrobe are giving you a chance to win a new wardrobe. Or are they? 

To celebrate its collaboration with Carmen Borgonovo, Harper’s Bazaar (UK) contributing editor and My-wardrobe.com fashion director, the magazine has teamed up with the luxury etailer to offer readers a chance to win £1,500 to spend online.

A lovely idea, however it’s unlikely to allow you to buy the full new season wardrobe advertised in the Bazaar email. How many items featured in the publication or sold by My-Wardrobe can you actually purchase for that amount? And considering the average price of the items selected in the Bazaar editorials, isn’t the initiative a tad derogatory?

Posted at 6:49pm and tagged with: magazine, email marketing,.

Harper’s Bazaar and My-Wardrobe are giving you a chance to win a new wardrobe. Or are they? 
To celebrate its collaboration with Carmen Borgonovo, Harper’s Bazaar (UK) contributing editor and My-wardrobe.com fashion director, the magazine has teamed up with the luxury etailer to offer readers a chance to win £1,500 to spend online.
A lovely idea, however it’s unlikely to allow you to buy the full new season wardrobe advertised in the Bazaar email. How many items featured in the publication or sold by My-Wardrobe can you actually purchase for that amount? And considering the average price of the items selected in the Bazaar editorials, isn’t the initiative a tad derogatory?

You’re not just buying new clothes, you’re buying a kit which will motivate you to go to the gym, is Avenue 32’s promise this first weekend of 2013.

For any purchase from the Lucas Hugh Activewear range, the multibrand online store offers a complimentary exercise class with Barrecore Chelsea.

Considering most press around New Year’s resolutions focused on how unlikely you are to stick to them, this is smart cross marketing from Avenue 32 and Barrecore Chelsea.

It projects the idea buying clothes is the indispensable first step towards a fitter body, all the more that the email subject line, “Free fitness class with Lucas Hugh purchase”, highlights the sport rather than the clothes.

It also takes the guilt out of buying new, full-price clothes, something which, right after Christmas and in the middle of the sale, isn’t necessarily the best financial decision. Yes, I did just spend £90 on a logo tank top but heh, I got a free workout out of it!

My main issue with the idea would be that limiting the offer to a Chelsea club can be off-putting for the Avenue 32 subscribers who don’t live in London, but their mailing list might be so London-dominated it makes sense.


Posted at 5:00pm and tagged with: email marketing, Brand communication, online shopping,.

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As part of its festive communication, Italian luxury brand Gucci, part of French holding PPR, sent out an email focused on partywear, looking back at the best LACMA 2012 Art + Film Gala outfits for inspiration.

The selection included Salma Hayek-Pinault and her husband, PPR CEO François-Henri Pinault. The Gala was sponsored by Gucci, many guests wore Gucci, so using event pictures as part of the brand communication was expected, yet highlighting the boss and his wife seems odd, especially considering Pinault wasn’t named (although he is on the section of Gucci.com featuring the event).

Having married into PPR, Hayek-Pinault has access to the group’s brands, and makes a point to wear them out and about as well as to official functions, with great results for both parties. It’s very easy VIP seeding since it holds quasi-guaranteed results. Hayek-Pinault is featured a few times on the Celebrities in Gucci section of Gucci.com.

As she should be, but with a clearer explanation of her relationship to the brand. Sometimes referred to as Hayek-Pinault, elsewhere simply as Hayek, the actress is never named as the CEO’s wife and it’s this lack of transparency I take issue with. “Actress Salma Hayek, in this picture with Francois-Henri Pinault”, doesn’t do the trick.

Posted at 6:04am and tagged with: gucci, email marketing,.

For three weeks in September, I was engulfed in an online chess game with my dad. We played on a virtual board available on the Hermès website as part of its Jeu d’échecs géant, Giant chess game. 

Hermès’ Chess Heritage

Starting with the landing page featuring the knight prominently, Hermès is calling on its equestrian heritage. Chess pieces have adorned silk scarves in the past and in January 2012, the French leather company released a Taurillon leather board with hand-sculpted rose wood (the whites) and mahogany (the blacks) pieces, the latest in a series of chess boards including made-to-measure traveling games.

The house however chose not to highlight this heritage in the Jeu d’échecs experience. Its introduction is limited to a poem on the history of chess and the possibility to relive legendary parties. Hermès could have built a microsite dedicated to the links between the brand and the game. By choosing not to and by limiting branding to a minimum, Hermès has created an experience more about the game and its players than itself.

A Smart Branding Move

With its chess game, Hermès jumped on the gamification bandwagon. It encourages people to come back to its website in a selfless manner: you can play without ever browsing the digital commerce site. No data capture is required. The game is about you, not about how the brand can best benefit from your digital life, as is so often the case.

Hermès is creating good memories and social link with an online experience going beyond the usual digital share: you can challenge a friend but you can’t broadcast your every move on social media, as the temptation could be. This is a smart game, for smart people.

This emphasis on the personal mirrors the luxury experience of the Hermès customer. Although tweaks are required to make playing seamless, it is already an elegant and classy experience where transaction is secondary.

What Hermès Can Improve

The online game is an exact reproduction of Hermès’ Taurillon leather board. The experience is sleek and easy to play yet if the brand aims for this to pick up, it should release a version offering more views of the board (at the moment it’s either lateral or from above). It would also be good to keep track of the taken pieces at all times.

The emails need sorting out: at the moment, you receive a notification for every move your adversary makes. These emails should contain a picture of the board as it now stands, rather than the same image of the knights. They should direct you straight to your game, rather than to a page you have to click on to reach it.

Images: Hermès blue and red silk scarf “Echecs II” by Pierre Peron 1975, Vintage traveling Hermès chess board

Posted at 10:00am and tagged with: hermès, online communication, gamification, email marketing, Social media,.

French luxury brand Lanvin messaged its Les Yeux d’Elsa brooches for Halloween. Made of a right and a left eye, red lips and black hands, the brooches come together in an email visual the Surrealists wouldn’t have rejected. Luckily really, considering Louis Aragon, the man who wrote the poem Les Yeux d’Elsa, Elsa’s Eyes, which inspired the design, was one of the three founders of the French literary Surrealist movement in 1919.

An ode to Elsa Triolet, the love of his life, Les Yeux d’Elsa was written during the Second World War. The poem references the blueness of her eyes and their tumultuous love (“you make big eyes perhaps it means you lie”, “violent amours”) as well as Aragon’s opposition to the War (“it happened one fine night the universe/foundered”) and heartbreak following the Occupation (“O the wet brightness seven-sorrowed mother/The colour-prism pierced by seven broadswords”). The Lanvin brooches, embellished with Swarovski crystals, have the brilliance of Elsa’s eyes: “I’m tangled in the net of shooting stars”, “I won this radium”. Pity they’re not blue.

Photos: Lavin email 30 October 2012, Louis Aragon and Elsa Triolet from the Maison Elsa Triolet-Aragon

Poem translation by Timothy Adès

Posted at 5:48am and tagged with: literature, email marketing, france,.

  1. Go on the Sandro French site
  2. Sign up for the newsletter
  3. Open up the sign-up confirmation email
  4. Despair over the brand’s issue with PHP coding and French accents

Sandro isn’t the only fashion brand struggling with PHP and HTML coding issues however, its French origins combined with the fact this sign-up email will be most customers’ first inbox contact with the brand means the company needs to sort it out.

Posted at 7:57pm and tagged with: Brand communication, email marketing, technology, sandro,.

A universal tale of finding yourself with Jungian traits and multiple variants worldwide, the Brothers Grimm’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has been re-imagined by Hollywood twice over the past six months: Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman. With its "Miroir, Miroir" email sent early July, Chanel is keeping with the trend and banking on how the story echoes in ourselves to increase opening rates.

The entire email copy references fairy tales. The subject line refers to a (likely incorrect, depending on the translation) Snow White quote so engraved in popular culture finishing it is not necessary for the recipient to know this email is about beauty. The call to action invites the customer to go through the mirror, a possible reference to Alice in Wonderland, another tale with a looking-glass at its heart. The email ultimately links to a short film teasing the upcoming Rouge Allure lipstick line, “lips red as blood” being one of Snow White’s three key beauty attributes.

The film, where “crystals become makeup and reveal kaleidoscopic beauty”, is more science fiction than fairy tale, India-influenced rather than set in the German forest. According to Style.com, inspired by the “something Indian” in the new lipstick, Chanel creative director of makeup Peter Philips looked at Karl Lagerfeld’s Paris-Bombay and “a specific mirror-embellished coat” to direct the short. India is a popular inspiration for beauty brands at the moment: Clarins, Boucheron and NARS have all released wide-reaching lines rooted in the subcontinent. Yet the Chanel email copy follows the decidedly Western angle of Snow White.

Pictures: Top picture, Miroir miroir, Chanel email July 2012; Photos 2 and 3: Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen in Mirror Mirror, Relativity Media 2012; Photos 4 to 7: Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen and the mirror in Snow White and the Huntsman, Universal Pictures 2012

Posted at 8:35pm and tagged with: Brand communication, Classy film, beauty, chanel, email marketing, karl lagerfeld,.

The jury for smartest Valentine’s day email of 2012 is still out, but French menswear and womenswear brand The Kooples blasted a strong contender this morning. Happy The Kooples Day it claimed, encouraging openers to

Celebrate actual and future Valentines, the shipping from our online store is free until February, 14 with the following code TKDAY

References to Valentine’s day were kept minimal, assuming instead that calendar context combined with customers’ knowledge of the brand’s couple imagery would make clear what The Kooples Day refers to.

Not even mentioning Valentine’s day in the subject line, “Do not miss The Kooples’ Day”, is a bold move, suggesting The Kooples is confident its market is educated enough in the brand’s (couple) identity . Either that, or it has complete faith in the power of its name when it comes to opening rates.

Whereas many labels chose to go for red capsule collections or stock edits, in keeping with Valentine’s day traditional colour, The Kooples innovates by using its campaign theme to introduce its SS12 collection to its database. The Kooples doesn’t need an edit to celebrate love, it’s already about relationships, every day of the year.

Previously: Is The Kooples love story at risk of eroding?

Posted at 9:05am and tagged with: The Kooples, email marketing, Brand communication, marketing,.