Thursday, May 10, 2018

Investigating Tod's' Courtship with Millennials // Fall 2018

Italian luxury goods brand Tod’s is courting Generation Z, tapping into the upcoming cohort’s purchasing power. In the last 18 months their market share value dropped by 10%, shops were closed and former creative director Alessandra Facchinetti exited. CEO Diego Della Valle spoke to Business of Fashion last August, sharing, “we need to speed up our execution plan.” 

Kendall Jenner, supermodel and Instagram influencer, was enlisted to boost the company’s profile on social media. In the advertising campaign with Jenner, she awkwardly frolics with docile puppies on a chaise at a seafront villa, presumably in Malibu, California. 

A fresh-faced Gigi Hadid carried an adorable French bulldog—and a handbag too—dressed in patchwork shearling, leather trousers and a wool jacket in warm, earthy tones, at their February womenswear show at Milan Fashion Week. (Continuing their fascination with canines, which seemingly amass a wealth of clicks on social media for their understandable cuteness, they served as an unlikely accessory which was sure to infuriate animal rights activists and dog lovers, whose least favourite thing is seeing dogs as ‘accessories’.) Her arrival and the ensuing appearance of Bella Hadid, Vittoria Ceretti, Grace Elizabeth signalled a responsiveness to the popular models of the time, the majority of them boasting impressive follower counts and industry clout.
The clothes which were determined to take more creative approach. On the sprightly models, none of the girls over 25, they looked fresh, albeit occasionally overwrought. There were fine examples of tailoring, specifically a canary yellow trench. A rust-hued ‘teddy-bear’ bomber on Kiki Willems, styled with a lacquered leather skirt, was transferrable come winter morning or summer night. 

The leather trousers and dresses were less modern, less successful. They belonged in a bygone era. I don't know what millennials they had in mind with those looks.

They struck gold with anoraks in biscuit and seafoam green. Polished, sleek and determinedly chic, there was no denying these were outstanding. From line, colour and texture, they achieved what some other looks couldn’t—weighted in modernity with the luxurious ease and tactility we expect from Italian luxury brands. But this probably isn't the brand appealing to the Jenner and Hadid age bracket, rather someone twenty years their senior, with an weighty purse.

But this was about the accessories—and not just the four-legged friends or respectable outerwear. The meat and potatoes. The old reliables. Handbags and footwear aplenty, the options here were decent ranging from casual flats to knee-high boots. Not a model breezed by without an accessory of some description in her well-manicured grasp.

You could argue once more, was this even about the accessories or the social media campaign?

Tod’s selecting to work with Jenners and Hadids is suggestive of a wider cultural shift: employing social media success stories to remedy ailing profits. All it takes is an advertising campaign, a couple hundred-thousand likes, and a catwalk show with a puppy-touting Hadid, for a brand to posture themselves as noteworthy. 

But we must beg the question, for struggling brands, there’s always Kendall and Gigi—for how long more will that be a viable option?

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