SUCCESS STORY – 2 Unusual Ways To Break Into The Fashion Industry

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Hi Guys,
Today we are going to go through unusual strategies used by two now thriving fashion companies to break out in the fashion business.

The two examples  selected are no classic profiles. They did not graduate from a facny fashion school. They did not launch with an insanely glamorous fashion show. They did not have a massive budget to spend on advertising. They are both very different. Each company has its own personality. One is from France, the other is from the US. But they both leveraged the power of social media in a smart AND organic way: we are talking about French brand Le Slip Français and US platform The Red Dress Boutique.


For those of you who do not speak French, Le Slip Français litteraly means “The French underpants”. And in French, this word “slip” is not the nice sexy version. Nope! In French the word slip is the ugly old fashioned version of underpants. Today the founder who originally worked in an organic store chain is one of the favorite success stories in France.
The story tells that the founder Guillaume Gibault made a bet with his friend that he would make underpants fashionable.
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He ordered 600 underpants and started the adventure.

The brand signature is: French made and audacity – audacity which is also a trait French people are famous for. The waistband has the colours of the French flag. And all the products are made in France, which is also a guarantee of quality;
The big breakout occurred in 2012 on French election. One of the candidate had a catchphrase that said “The change is for now”. The brand le slip français twisted the message with a video “The change of underpants is for now”. (I will let you watch it in the replay of our live video on top of this post – it starts at 05:33).
Needless to say that this campaign made a massive organic hit on social media. People shared it because it was bold and funny. And audacious.
It was worth sharing.
Besides he always stayed cohesive with the identity of the brand. For example, he also gave typically French or even Gaul nicknames to each product, like names that you would have read in this French comic book: Asterix the Gaul – “The Intrepid” “The valiant”…

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Here are the best lessons that you can take out of this

#1 – Know who you are

The usual and favorite Fashion FXF advice: have a strong DNA. For that, you don’t have to have a necessarily complicated identity. On the constrary – Stay simple but true to who you are. In this case they Chose Underpants French Audacity. That’s it. And everything is aligned to that: design, production, tone of voice used in communication.

#2 – Use or twist something that is trending right now

Then you know what people are eager to share and talk about right now – You can go on websites such as Medium to see what’s trending – And use that for your communication. Of course, you have to be careful of the potential complaints. In this case, none of the candidates complained about the twist
Also be careful to not use any kind of news. Just use the ones that make sense for your brand and that can speak to your target audience. In this case, it made sense because it was the French elections and let’s admit it: the candidate’s message was just perfect for an audacious joke!

#3 – Share messages that are worth sharing

Lots of brands just dump posts on their audience…
Honestly have you wondered, how you change people’s life? Have you thought about the people at the other end? How will your product change their lives?
So from now on, what you need to do is to think of ways how your product can contribute to your audience’s life and lifestyle.
Inspire. Teach something. Make people feel something.
In this case it was funny but it doesn’t have to be funny. It can be comforting, motivating, whichever feels right for your brand identity and your audience.

Contribute to your audience’s life and well being.
Fashion FXF - How to launch a clothing line


The Red Dress boutique is an online e-commerce website and brick and mortar shop that sell cute and affordable clothing for women. They are from Georgia in the US. The company was founded by Diana Harbour.
At the beginning, she targeted students of the University of Georgia.
She got people’s attention by keeping her audience updated about upcoming items and re-stocks. It was the beginning of Facebook…and no other retail store was doing that.

And here is the trick (which still works today
She constantly asked for customer feedback. Her engagement is very high. So for example when she is on her buying trips to curate new items, she asks for feedback from her target audience to know if they’d like it or not. And depending on the answers obtained, she adjusts the quantity of items to buy. So she only gets the most wanted items in, which also decreases the need for markdown. Smart, right?
The same goes with the pictures she posts – She worked with students who posed for her pictures. But for example if the picture did not get much engagement, she changed it a little bit and posted the one that got most engagement.
To finish, the identity of the red dress boutique can be summarized in one word: caring. The founder genuinely cares about her customers. She cares about their opinion but she also cares about their life. She thinks of them – each package is wrapped like a gift and there is a handwritten note. Here is what you can read when you go on the website:
“I also wanted to create this place that would bring color and confidence and happiness to a woman’s day. Sometimes just having that one fantastic new outfit is all a woman needs to turn a bad day into a good one, to give a woman the confidence she needs going into an interview or to give that stay at home mom a reason to smile after that rare moment she treats herself. So I started handwriting all the thank you cards that went in our orders, packing it up like the present that it was and sending it off in hopes that it brought a smile to the woman it went to.”

That’s how much she cares about her audience and from all the engagement she gets from people and the way she keeps listening to what her audience has to say, it is so sincere that she made a business model out of it.
So what kind of lessons can you take from this?

#4 – Care about your customers

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Start bonding with them. We have a fantastic opportunity with social media, stop ruining it by dumping your products on people.
Ask their opinion. Find out how they live, give a damn about what they are going through and how your product makes them feel.

Today you cannot just dump your posts on people: you have to engage. So start engaging.
And I am not only talking about putting green hearts and emojis on people’s posts. (ughhh…I have that account on Instagram that keeps posting that same green heart over and over again).
Share something useful that could enlighten that person’s day. Because guess what they are going to do once you care a little bit about them: they are going to check your profile and interact with you. Tadaaaa.
Plus social media totally loves and favors posts that engage.

#5 – Test until it works

It is applicable for the photos you use on social media but also for your posts. You need to find that tone and content that your audience best reacts to.

#6 – Ask for customer feedback

A lot of designers out there stay in their bubble and do not engage. with their audience. But how are you going to know what works if you stay in your bubble? You have to go out there and ask what they think about your product. How they like it, where they wear it, how it went, how it makes them feel.
Because all this is information that you will be able to fuel back into your marketing.


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DESIGNER TOOLBOX: How Small Fashion Brands Can Use Instagram To Be Featured In Vogue

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Hi guys,
I know how Instagram became important to fashion today, including to small brands. After you having how to get featured by Instagram influencers  and the 3 Instagram mistakes small fashion brands keep doing, we decided to end the series of Instagram tools with the main takeouts of last week’s Facebook Live session.
We interviewed brand lover and marketing project manager Sara El Khouya Ali. Passionate by the product development and the client experience in the luxury and fashion industry, she made her debut in retail and marketing in prestigious houses such as Chanel, L’Oréal and Berluti.
She recently worked on consulting assignments for fashion brands such as Ioanna Deschamps, a French Romantic, Chic and Modern brand of handmade hats. During a year she helped the emerging fashion brand to better use communication tools especially Instagram to gain visibility.
In this interview she shared how she helped the French hat brand get exposure in the biggest names of the fashion press.

Sara you helped French brand Ioanna Deschamps get a quite impressive coverage in the fashion press (Vogue Japan & UK, Elle UK, Harper’s Bazaar US, Les Eclaireuses, Socialter, The Hat Magazine) using Instagram. Can you explain to us how you did that?

Thank you Bako for your invitation! A pleasure to share my experience in brand image!
And indeed being visible is one key issue for fashion emerging brands, to attract prospects, their future clients. For Ioanna Deschamps, to develop her brand, there are two axes: the retail approach and the brand image management. I choose to give her some pieces of advice regarding her communication strategy. For your information, I am a Marketing specialist and Communication is an extension of my business skills. I was comfy to help her and to make her brand gain visibility.
Basic advice:

  • Choose a professional photograph and organise shootings to highlight the features of each hat (packshot and with a model).
  • Publish some pictures that explain the inspiration of the current collection.
  • Alternate with posts including quote (fashion, music, literature, paris, women empowerment)

Major results: the number of followers suddenly increased and Ioanna Deschamps was contacted by Direct Messages or by email. She then described her brand, told her story as a hat lover and the magazines wrote an article and published one of the iconic fedoras “Orchidée” or “Pensée”.

So which steps should an emerging fashion brand follow to achieve the same result?

First and major step: deeply analyse your brand DNA, redefine your brand with simple words, if necessary draw a mind map with a lot of adjectives and pick the most relevant and impactful ones. That helps you create your own signature.
Another type of work: make the effort of introspection, close your eyes and remember why you have decided to create your brand, your product, your universe. That will give elements to justify how unique your brand is, how you have been thrilled to launch your brand. This first work is a major step to build one’s own storytelling.
Second: Now you know storytelling is the key. How to make it real?
It depends on your budget, dear emerging brands!

You could make a brand movie or feed your facebook with articles related to your sector or with launching product campaigns. But actually it’s common to first create an Instagram account having a proper biography and a link to your website. Use the hashtags that define your own signature, the ones, which are relevant to easily find your brand on the feed.
Then, as I have said, publish some pictures so that we rapidly recognize the brand signature (colours, the writing or font, mood) and why not create your own hashtag like #hatspiration for D’Estrée.
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You worked in the sales and marketing department of fashion and luxury brands such as Chanel, L’Oréal and Berluti. Did it help you obtaining those results? How?

During my missions at Chanel, L’Oréal and Berluti, all the projects I led had to take into account the respect of the brand image. I propose to explain for each brand what I have learned from them, how they deal with their brand DNA.

  • Chanel (Retail Marketing Manager): there was a training at the beginning to better know the House, it was like a summary of the chapters of Inside Chanel. Besides I always quote the Inside Chanel chapters for the emerging brands, to help them to build their storytelling.

Example of my loyalty project: the French stores were aim at encouraging the purchase of ready-to-wear products. Several tools were at their disposal to contact their loyal customers: emailing (newsletter), mailing (last brochure), private event (La Veste Event, private concert of Vanessa Paradis, after-show cocktail, privatisation of a Museum section…), phone calls, etc

  • L’Oréal (Product Manager): I joined a brand (Decléor), which just had been bought by L’Oréal. It implied to restructure the brand products collection, to redefine the brand signature as you were supposed to build the 2016 marketing plan. Several changes were expected to make the brand a luxury one and the luxury and fashion codes were reused: the colour (give up the yellow colour, too cheap and go for the gold colour instead), highlight the founder Solange Dessimoulie, starify the iconic product of the brand, the Aromessence, an oil serum, and finally use all the references to nature and vegetation.
  • Berluti (Special Order Manager, Leather product lines): I was part of the special order and bespoke team at a international scale. I was close to a perfect luxury service propose to clients. The signature of the brand was in the product itself: the high quality of the leather and the use of patina, a total handmade product that makes it exclusive and unique for the client. If you see the Instagram account, there are always references to the leather (calf to alligator skin), it is very light and “male”.

Knowing this, I was inspired to work with Ioanna and to help her to better understand on what she was expected to show on her instagram account to attract magazines, retailers and clients.

If you had 1 top advice for emerging brands to be seen on IG: what would it be?

Be clear on what you are and what you want to show, the brand is part of you, so share a part of yourself, be closer to your future customers.


Download our Instagram quick checklist for small fashion brands

 What to put in your bio to make it compelling, what you should do before posting and a nice app to keep your content nice and cohesive

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DESIGNER TOOLBOX: The 3 Instagram Mistakes Emerging Fashion Brands Should Fix Right Now

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Hi Guys,
We asked digital nomad and Instagram expert Elise Darma for guidance to help emerging fashion brands improve their Instagram profile. She made this very insightful video, just for you. Thank you so much Elise <3.

Here are the main takeouts from her video:
"When it comes to fashion brands, I see common mistakes with fashion brands.

MISTAKE # 1 – The handle and name field are not optimized for searches by target buyers

One common mistake I see, is that the bio is often not optimized. In Instagram, you have a handle (username) and the name field. A lot of people will put the same information in both. For example, the handle will be the name of their shop and the name field will be the name of their shop again. Both of those fields – the handle and the name field – are search friendly. So Instagram will allow those fields to be search optimized for people looking for certain keywords on Instagram.

  • Handle: have their brand name
  • Name field: edit it with the main keywords that their target buyers are searching for

MISTAKE # 2 – The bio is not enough about the customer and lifestyle

With your bio, you really want to speak to that customer, to let them know that they are home. This is the place they have been looking for. They found it through your profile. You are going to speak specifically to that person. That means that you are not going to speak to everyone, which is fine because you do not want to attract everyone as a customer. As a fashion brand, you want to become known by a specific group of people for that specific style. For example, when I started to work with Shelfies, they were very new with their photo realistic prints and that was their unique angle. They really targeted teens and young adults because they were the ones to wear that kind of clothing. So all of the messages and captions in that bio was focused on that audience.

  • Define a customer target
  • Speak the language of the target customer. Use slang if they use it. Use words that not everyone knows but those target customers know especially if you are into a trendy pop culture kind of style.
  • Show the brand personality and highlight that your Instagram is their home. Make it fun.

MISTAKE # 3 – Do not just focus your posts on your products

Some brands just put product pictures after product pictures. What those Instagram profiles are missing are some lifestyle images. The lifestyle images could be real people wearing the clothes, user generated content that you are reposting. Maybe there is a specific hashtag that you are using to get reposted.
What are the other elements that your ideal customers want in their life? So for example, my agency @canupee is all about tropical vibes and the beach so I am not only talking about copywriting services and social media. I am giving my target customers what they want: pretty imagery of beaches.
One other of my clients sells green beauty products. So our feed is not only product after product. We have that but because we are appealing to people who like healthy living and healthy products, we are sharing a lot of images related to nature, the food they might eat and the activities they might do. Se we are sort of encompassing and showing a visual representation of their lifestyle because that is who you want to speak to. We are talking to a woman who typically likes yoga, she eats very healthy and she wants to put products on her face that are going to help her not harm her. So collecting those lifestyle images are really important because they get more engagement and they are solidifying to the clients that this brand is for them. (See example of clementinefields and frank_bod in the video).

  • Understand the lifestyle of your target customer
  • Alternate promotional pictures with lifestyle pictures”

To get more amazing Instagram insights from Elise, you can read the following:


Download our Instagram quick checklist for small fashion brands

 What to put in your bio to make it compelling, what you should do before posting and a nice app to keep your content nice and cohesive

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DESIGNER TOOLBOX: 6 Killer Advice From Instagram Influencers To Small Fashion Brands

Hi Guys,
Maybe you can relate with this: all the conversations with my clients somehow end up talking about Instagram.
Instagram, the giant that according to scored $2.8 billion ad revenues in 2016. Over 600 million users were counted as of April 2017. As part of the second largest industry represented on Instagram, most of the small fashion brands have an account there, hoping to be on top of the list of what influencers wear.
To increase your chances to get featured, we approached influencers to better understand what they are expecting from small fashion brands. We exchanged with two active Instagram influencers with different sizes of audience (over 18k followers) and a fashion blogger who uses Instagram to find collaborations with fashion brands. We wrapped up their feedbacks in the lessons hereafter.

#1 – Yes a small fashion brand can interest an influencer

The influencers we contacted were quite unanymous. Small fashion brands do have all their chances to get featured by influencers. As The BongFashion founder Chandrayee Chakraborty  suggests, small fashion brands can do either of the two for a start:
1) a barter where brands send free products to influencers for campaigning
2) mass loop giveaways where brands pay the influencers a certain amount to run the giveaways on their Instagram account.

#2 – Have a strong brand DNA and contact an influencer with a similar style

If you have been following our news, you may know by now that the fashion brand DNA is the number one ingredient you need to work on from the start. At any step of the life of your brand, you will need to go back to the core of your DNA. This rule also applies to partnerships and collaborations you build with bloggers and Instagram influencers. So work on making your Instagram account look cohesive.
Besides, like her peers, Germany-based Instagram influencer Malia Keana emphasizes the importance of the fit between the brand and the influencer. In order for influencers to wear your product, it has to blend in with their lifestyle. Hence make sure to contact the influencers with a similar style. As fashion blogger Lily Angelova said: “When the style is identical, the collaboration is really effortless and does not appear like advertisement.”

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#3 – Size matters

Lily Angelova is positive. The size of the influencers’ audience matters. “As an entrepreneur as well as a blogger I have been in both situations: a brand looking to work with bloggers and a blogger who  is offered a collaboration. Unless they have a big budget for advertising I would suggest to look for influencers who have a similar or a bit larger audience. Influencers with following around 5,000 are a great start.”
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#4 – Measure the influencers’ influence

There is the size of the influencers’ audience on one side and their actual influence on another. Here’s a great tool to help small fashion brands evaluate an influencer on Instagram. It enables to measure the costs and the estimated return on investment for each Instagram user.

#5 – Be authentic: create a connection with the influencer

“Generic template-like emails are obvious. They are not the best way to start a  relationship. The best collaboration will be the one where both parties are excited to work with one another and love and value each others work.”, says Lily Angelova. 

#6 – Be clear on what you should expect from each other

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In order to avoid misunderstandings, Beauty and the nature blogger Lily Angelova reminded how important it is to have “very clear conditions stated prior to the collaboration, so both parties would know what to expect and what they have to do.”


Download our Instagram quick checklist for small fashion brands

 What to put in bio to make it compelling, what you should do before posting and a nice app to keep your content nice and cohesive

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