E-Tailers, Insiders Leverage Social-Media Tools to Brand-Build

The influence of fashion bloggers is no longer limited to computer screens, as evident during the most recent New York Fashion Week. Fashion bloggers were invited to sit in the rows at runway shows and fashion presentations.

The “IFB Dress Up Soiree”—presented by the Independent Fashion Bloggers online network, e-tail site Moxsie (www.moxsie.com) and software giant Microsoft—recently gathered together well-known bloggers and fashion media for a panel discussion on the evolving influence of new media in fashion and the impact of bloggers on the fashion industry.

The panel was held on Sept. 14 at Broadway East in New York’s Lower East Side and brought out more than 250 attendees. Among the tastemakers were Susanna Lau of the Style Bubble blog; Geri Hirsh, the blogger behind Because I’m Addicted; Helen Zhu of style social-networking Web site Chictopia; Tricia Royal of online fashion community Wardrobe Remix; and Crosby Noricks from PR Couture. Elle.com was also on hand to provide a session on the advantages of search-engine optimization.

As the retail representative of the panel, Palo Alto, Calif.–based Moxsie focused on how the company works with bloggers and online outreach methods.

“Moxsie does a lot of untraditional marketing,” said Moxsie Director of Marketing Julia Kung. “We work with bloggers and create a strong community through Twitter and Facebook to tell our designers’ stories.”

Moxsie works with independent and up-and-coming brands, such as Hellz and Tt Collection. Approaching new-media methods to raise brand awareness is often more beneficial than traditional media, according to Kung.

“I can see what resonates, such as if a specific piece gets re-Twittered to followers and which designers and pieces have ’legs,’” Kung said.

Twitter has become a faster way to receive instant feedback and to communicate with bloggers and designers, according to Kung, and she added that more new brands are approaching and connecting with Moxsie through Twitter.

Fashion bloggers are often more receptive to new designers, according to Kung. “A strong connection can be made when reaching out to a blogger who often writes as a passion project because they are so avid about fashion and discovery,” Kung said. “Our brands are sometimes not as recognizable, so this can be a scoop for a blogger.”

For Los Angeles e-tail site StantonJames.com, blog outreach provides a third-party perspective on the contemporary brands carried on the site, such as Mink Pink and Brigid Catiis.

“Bloggers have become stylists within reach,” said StantonJames.com Co-Founder Brooke Price. “We can sell all day long, but when a blogger goes in and is wearing one of our products with items from her own closet—like a vintage piece or a Chanel bag—readers and potential customers see how versatile a piece is and how it fits on a real person.”

StantonJames.com also recently launched its own blog network, featuring posts by a number of hand-selected bloggers from Germany, Paris, New York and Los Angeles. The blog enhances the site experience and provides a feel for global fashion, according to Price.

At a recent seminar presented by the American Apparel Producers’ Network, titled “Web 3.0 and Social Media for the B2B Textile/Apparel Supply Chain,” Bill Palmer, founder and lead brand architect for Activate Media Group, a marketing firm that specializes in fashion brands and technology, discussed how businesses can leverage social-media practices.

“Bloggers carry real influence, in some cases, to millions of subscribers,” Palmer said. That influence is often maintained by the credibility and authenticity bloggers have with their audience, according to Palmer.

One of the advantages of blogger outreach is often in the speed that information is carried. “They’re the first to market with real-time feedback,” Palmer said. “They’re getting trends to the marketplace faster and getting there first.”

Brands have the capability to gauge their efforts by tracking how much traffic a link from a blogger can drive back to their business, said Palmer. Palmer stressed, above all, that the importance of social-media tools is to engage with customers and allow them to participate in the conversation.