Over the last few months, COVID-19 has forced the fashion industry to cancel or postpone fashion shows, find ways to convert in-store visits to digital experiences and appeal to consumers whose savings rate hit a record 33 percent in May. The industry is starting to feel the effects, as new research from MediaRadar shows in Q2, the fashion industry’s ad spend was down 45 percent year-over-year. To compensate for a sharp decline in print readership and in-store visits, however, fashion brands have refocused their efforts on influencer marketing on TikTok and Instagram.
MediaRadar found from March through June, ad spend by footwear brands dropped by 55 percent year over year. Brands like DSW, however, found a way to crisis-proof the situation, launching a hashtag challenge on TikTok ahead of the back-to-school season that amassed 1.3 billion views. #TooManyShoes, DSW’s first branded hashtag challenge, called on users to create videos of themselves wearing shoes for any occasion for a chance to win a full closet of shoes. To create awareness around the challenge, DSW worked with five TikTok creators including Brittany Xavier, Rodney Lee, Janina, Bria Jones and Everett Williams, and commissioned artists Devmo and Julian Xtra to create an original song for participants to use in their videos.
During Q2, designer fashion ad spend decreased by one-third, according to MediaRadar. The prolonged downturn in travel, Deutsche Bank’s head of global luxury research Francesca Di Pasquantonio told Business of Fashion, will lead to an even greater decline in sales, as “tourist spending on average is about 40 percent of luxury sales.”
Amid a decrease in ad spend, designer fashion brands have turned to influencers to create awareness around new products. Fendi, for example, enlisted fashion influencer Chriselle Lim— the board chairwoman of the recently launched American Influencer Council (AIC), a nonprofit, invite-only trade association—and singer-actress Sabrina Carpenter to generate buzz around its new California Sky apparel and accessories collection. Lim, who has 1.3 million followers, posted an image of herself wearing pieces from the collection on Instagram with the hashtag #ad, receiving 13,459 likes. Carpenter, who boasts nearly 21 million followers, posted a similar image with the hashtag #ad, garnering over 1 million likes.
For eyewear brands, on the other hand, ad spend is up 151 percent year over year, while ad spend for athletic wear brands has been flat. Capitalizing on consumers’ current lockdown lifestyles, Aerie launched a new sub-brand of activewear called OFFLINE by Aerie. The brand tapped paralympic snowboard Brenna Huckaby to announce the launch on Instagram with this post featuring Huckaby. The post received 19,225 likes.
Direct-to-consumer apparel subscription boxes saw significant growth during Q2, with ad spend tripling when compared to Q2 2019. Fabletics, for example, has called on influencers to promote its athleisure sets and VIP program via sponsored Instagram posts. In addition, in March, the brand teamed with singer Demi Lovato to launch a new line benefiting COVID-19 relief efforts, and this month, it’s launching a line with Riverdale actress Madelaine Petsch. Founded by TechStyle Fashion Group, Fabletics has 1.5 million members and 40 brick-and-mortar stores nationwide.