Originally written for Aquafil in May 2020.
Podcasts and audio based social media spaces have become the talking point over the past year. With a desperate need for escapism and spare time on our hands, many of us turned to podcasts to fill the void left from restrictions to regular daily activities during the pandemic. But with the fashion industry being centred around glossy, editorial imagery and advertising for so long, how can they make use of this form of social media?
Up until quite recently, fashion was always about the visuals, so much preparation goes into creating these editorial, curated images and video content. The fashion industry adapted in recent years to include the use of social media as a form of advertising with bloggers seated in the front row of many Fashion Week shows and the launch of Instagram back in 2010 has led us to where we are today. However, there are a few new kids on the block who would appear to me paving the way for a new generation in fashion advertising.
As one of the fastest growing, invite only apps around, Clubhouse, has become the place for conversations surrounding fashion and creativity. If you didn’t already know, Clubhouse is a new type of “social audio” space, based on the idea of a private members club, where users can drop-in and out as they please and connect without the use of video. It provides a completely new experience in comparison to other social media spaces, taking away the pressure that can be associated with image and video focused apps. One of the app’s super users, now the late Virgil Abloh, former Artistic Director of Menswear at Louis Vuitton speaking at the BoF’s VOICES 2020 said, “All the conversations that I’ve hosted or been a part of on Clubhouse related to fashion in a weird way have been more in-depth than interviews or regular-format media”. This just goes to show that the audience gets to know more than they would on the likes of Twitter and Instagram Live where their interaction can be limited. What seems to keep users engaged is that the conversation becomes about so much more than the brand or product.
There is a participatory nature to audio, a sense of retrieving time which would ordinarily be lost scrolling on apps like Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. Additionally, there is a sense of human connection that may not translate from traditional social media content/advertising. As previously mentioned, many of us turned to podcasts to fill a gap whilst adapting to life at home and podcast listener numbers have more than doubled since the start of the pandemic. They are cheaper to produce than the likes of video content and with current social distancing restrictions, allow you to maintain social distance, whilst still creating content with the ability to reach millions meaning that any return should result in better profitability.
Aside from the more intimate and in depth side of audio, there is also the opportunity for promotion through collaboration. Fashion media brand Who What Wear recently launched a podcast hosted by it’s co-founder Hilary Kerr, with the purpose of creating “an audio extension of the Who What Wear site, with audio stories linking to text stories on the site and vice versa”. This podcast launch is a partnership with Walmart who will be using the platform to promote their new private label brand Free Assembly. Even though consumers are aware that product promotion does happen, that doesn’t force them to switch off. Podcasts allow consumers to build a deeper connection with the brand via story-telling. Collaborating with those who have a good online or social media presence is definitely a good move for traditional retail outlets and designers alike. It allows brands who may not necessarily have huge engagement with their target audience a chance to be showcased in a way that piques the interest of listeners allowing them to connect with brands in a much more holistic way. There is a particular level of honesty and transparency that comes with audio content and with consumers becoming more savvy to shopping trends, conscious of what they possess and wanting to buy from ethical brands as a result of the pandemic, honesty will always be the best policy.
Some of my favourite podcasts include:
Hosted by Lucy Kebbell, this sustainable lifestyle podcast discusses a new topic weekly with guest industry insiders, exploring clothing recycling, renting your wardrobe, thrifting and fashion that gives back to the planet.
Sustainably Influenced is a platform guiding people through the minefield of sustainability. Hosts Bianca Foley & Charlotte Williams interview a series of experts in sustainability and ethical living to shed a little light on the many terms used across industries, discussing the different aspects of living a conscious lifestyle and how we can do our bit to make a difference.
This Old Thing – Bay Garnett
Hosted by Bay Garnett, this wholesome podcast discovers her guests’ most memorable outfits from their childhood and beyond – trying to get to the bottom of the fabric of their lives, dishing out some great secondhand style and thrifting tips too.
For any fashion creative this as an essential daily resource for fashion creatives, executives and entrepreneurs in over 200 countries, hosted by Imran Amed.