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Social Media: The New Front Row of Fashion

Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger and Rodarte among the brands that will live stream their shows.

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Isaac Mizrahi is displaying a countdown to his show Thursday on his video blog. “Fashion in a way is even more about communication than it is about clothes,” said Mizrahi. “I feel communication has always been more important than [strictly] fashion.…It’s just one more way for me to communicate to my audience.” Mizrahi said he decided on a live feed because, “It’s more exposure. I don’t know if every woman wants to come to the fashion show, but they certainly want a peek at it.”

After years of avoiding social media, the Marc Jacobs brand will dive in headfirst this season via Twitter and a live feed at 8 p.m. tonight on its Web site. President Robert Duffy began tweeting in late January and has filled his Twitter feed with a flurry of daily updates on everything from “the most inspiring person,” in his life to ticket giveaways and behind-the-scenes pictures of the show set coming together.

Tommy Hilfiger’s show Thursday night will be live streamed on Facebook and the brand is urging users to submit questions for the designer to answer that day. “We’ll also provide exclusive backstage access through our Facebook page to followers, allowing them to have direct interaction with Tommy,” said Avery Baker, executive vice president of global marketing and communications at Tommy Hilfiger. Followers can then check in prior to the show to see if their questions were answered. “During the live stream, we’ll be asking our fans to vote on their favorite looks. As a viewer sees each look on screen, we’ll be posting information on that look so that fans can interact with and give input on the collection. Those who vote for the top three men’s and top three women’s looks will receive an exclusive offer on those looks as well as a chance to win seats to the next fashion show,” Baker said.

Though embracing live feeds is a technological leap forward for fashion, it isn’t active engagement in social media unless it’s embedded on a page where anyone can comment, which is what most brands are doing. What a live feed does offer is the quality of being a wide-reaching but strictly controlled medium. Yuli Ziv, ceo and founder of Style Coalition — a community of independent fashion bloggers — said, “The reason we’ve seen more and more live streaming is it’s an attempt to control their message.” Ziv continued, “Exclusive streaming is a good excuse to not invite online media.”

Recent statistics back up the contention that a brand fully immersed in social media will boost its bottom line. Macala Wright Lee, a fashion blogger and founder of digital marketing and merchandising agency FashionablyMarketing Me cited a recent statistic from the International Herald Tribune Technology conference, which stated when engaged in active social media integration, brands have reported as much as a 25 percent return on investment.

To be sure, Ziv appreciates the challenges these companies face. “A lot of [brands] are still trying to figure it out.…The truth is we’re living in such a fast-paced age…[and] there’s always a new platform…they might not have resources.”

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