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

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.

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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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