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Fashion meets tech | Vogue Codes Expert Panel | Vogue Australia


Fashion starts from a dream, not a spreadsheet So data is a really important part of our business and I must say, we've had our e-commerce site for about five years now

And we've really only had great data to work with for the last two So it's really developed over time And we can look at it on a number of our channels so the first way that we look at data is on Google Analytics and that's with our e-commerce site and we can really analyse what people are looking at, what they're really drawn to in terms of products and brands, who they are and where they're coming from and what they want to see, so we use that to really drive our marketing strategy and to give our customers more of what they're looking for as well And if we feel they're missing something that's really exciting, we can also try and steer them towards that and highlight it for them as well And Karen, how do you ensure that the content you're producing is still authentic and not slavish to the data? And what are the risks of just sticking to the kind of posts you know are gonna get the most likes or the most engagement? We realise that it's a real privilege to have somebody click follow, first of all, and we don't take our customers' little thumbs for granted just by feeding them whatever the data tells us they want to see

We never choose or create our content based on what got likes last time because that just silos you down into some echo chamber of what worked before and when you're in the creative business, what worked before is exactly what you shouldn't be looking at It kills creativity and the business I'm in is creativity and storytelling, and so I never look at the data, I don't really care about how many likes or how many clicks something got 'cause that's not going to inform what story we tell people next I think that you can just spiral down into your own sort of black hole very quickly And then it's just all about kittens And no one wants that

No But I also imagine that data does help in knowing the kind of size range that you need to have, how many of those sizes you need, they're different That's a different thing, that's just like back hand logistics and ordering, we run spreadsheets for days around that sort of thing but in terms of actually telling an authentic story that's true to you and your voice and the voyage you want to take your customers on, you don't get that from a spreadsheet Fashion starts from a dream, not a spreadsheet Also what we're finding is that if you take the example of say a picture that you post on Instagram and the likes that it gets, that's one type of data and it's the type of data that tells you how many people saw that picture and then decided to give it a like, but what we're hearing from our customers, and this is where we're having to start to learn to really shift our mindset, is that they want to see, they keep telling us they want to see different things than what they actually like on Instagram, but what they then go back and talk about themselves within their own communities, they love it

So if we purely went off those likes and that data, we wouldn't be giving our customers what they actually want It's almost like you need more than just the like, right You need to have a few comments It's just one little tiny part of the story Yeah

Partnerships can be a lucrative opportunity to gain new followers and grow one's audience through the aids of influencers Deborah, how does your brand go about finding an influencer that is aligned with your company's values and to preserve brand identity, I guess I think working with influencers or working with anyone with your brand is all about a partnership It has to work for the individual and it has to work for you as a brand and I think that you have to have very similar values It's also about really looking at who you're trying to talk to

When I started my business, everyone kept asking me who is your customer, one woman, and really for us we have four broad categories of women who shop with us at the store and it's important to be able to talk to all those people and know that it's not just one person and I think that's something amazing about collaborating with influencers on social media is you can talk to a number of audiences in really different ways, so for me it's about really creating a collaborative partnership with the people that we're working with and talking to a number of different women as well So this is kind of a question for anyone who'd like to jump in, how would you advise up-and-comers in your field to approach technology? What advice do you wish you had been given? Would anyone like to start? Marie-Claude, you look excited to answer this one I was laughing because when I started my career, I had an assistant, I had one little showroom and my assistant came in one morning and said to me, we should use this thing that's happening, and I said oh, what is it, she said, it's this thing called email I looked at her and I said, that'll never work So what my lesson was there was to stay open-minded, to keep looking at where technology is going

I know for example in PR and communications, a lot of my peers at one point were really up in arms and so furious about Instagram and so furious about influencers We don't put influencers in the front row of fashion shows, that's just not heard of, and all of that kind of stuff and I think the best thing I can say about all of that is just staying open-minded and learning, just never to stop learning, never to stop trying new things Some of those things will work, some of those things won't We know email works and so there you go It did take off in the end

It did take off, weirdly, just like the world wide web did What changes do you envisage, envision in the technical, technological landscape and are there any changes you forecast? If so, what measures will you implement in order to keep up with these? Lizzie, do you want to? We're seeing huge movement in the community space, I think Facebook's really championing the groups there, they're largely user-generated We held off starting a specific Spell community for a long time because there were so many user-generated groups happening all over the place on Facebook with upwards of 25,000 members in each one, selling clothes between each other and we didn't want to go into their space, so we held back but in the last year, we've started a Spell group and the traction it gets is so far and beyond what our normal Spell Facebook page has, the engagement is just off the charts and our customers are loving that And it's still something they're running and it's still something that they're generating those conversations, but I think that because Facebook is so behind it and I think they see it as the future of Facebook a little bit, they're really giving it a lot of space there and I think that's going to be a big thing moving forward This might be best for Karen and Lizzie, how do you manage to stay innovative in an industry that has literally been around forever? Yes, it has been around since the caves

You stay open and curious You question, you look for what the new tools are, all this what we're talking about with technology is just tools, it's not actually that important What really matters is the stories that you're telling The Instagram whatnot, that's just the conduit and that will change, there will be something else in our lifetime that is like how did we ever live without that And you just have to be open and questioning and curious and oh, what is that and how can that, be agile enough to grab and see whether it works for you or not and smart enough to make the most out of it but also know it's just tools

It's somebody else's front yard too, by the way, so you don't want to build your entire house on Instagram's front yard, you've gotta diversify your portfolio a little bit and keep looking for what's new and what's possible and how does it work for you Yeah, and Lizzie, I guess you've got such a great local aesthetic with what you do at Spell Yeah, I think in terms of innovation, a lot of what's driving innovation for us at Spell at the moment is our sustainability journey, and that's coming, like it really starts back in the design room and we're having to re-educate our design team and not only re-educate and upskill our own design team but also re-educate and upskill our suppliers, because there's all these new fibres that we want to be using, and we want to be using all the new technology that's out there around sustainable fibres and production, but our suppliers are still doing what they do and we want to bring them on board as well, and yeah, a lot of our design is still happening quite organically but we're trying to plug in those circular elements to our design and they're more preferred in sustainable fibres, and that's kind of where a lot of our heads are at at the moment And obviously there's all the tech stuff going on from a digital tech space but there's a lot of tech going on in terms of the innovations around fibres and stuff as well

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