LS:N Global Autumn/Winter Trend Briefing 2012. Faction Marketing

We are constantly evolving, and consequently, our world is changing; technology is advancing, tastes are developing and quality of life is improving. With so much innovation and creativity happening around us, this is an exciting time to be alive.
Studying fashion communication and promotion, I am fascinated by the diverse ways that brands launch marketing campaigns to address their consumers. I am not an expert on marketing or trend forecasting, but attending the insightful LS:N Global autumn/winter 2012 trend briefing presentation yesterday has given me a sense of how and why aspects of the commercial world are changing and how brand innovators are currently adapting their marketing strategies to find increasingly inventive ways of engaging customers.
I found each of the areas that the editor of LS:N covered in the briefing of great interest, but it was an introduction to the concept of faction marketing which really captured my imagination. An amalgamation of fact and fiction, I learnt that faction marketing is emerging as a powerful way of relating fictional stories to real-life products in order to connect brands with consumers on a more emotional level. I’m talking about the creation of storylines which blur the boundary between fantasy and reality to tap into the imagination of the consumer to establish a positive association with a brand or product.
Who thinks up these factional storylines? Marvelists; the name given to the combined role of a marketer and a novelist.  
Of course, the notion of storytelling itself isn’t original; stories have been told since the start of human civilization, stories are how we learn. But this is the point. People are storytellers and consumers respond to fiction and stories. People want to connect with stories, find out what happens at the end, and even be a part of it themselves. What’s notable is the way that fictional storylines are starting to be used as marketing tools, as narrative hooks to reel in consumers. It’s about striking a factual-fictional balance; the brand or product is real, therefore fact must be at the centre of the campaign. But as fact can be made more exciting with fiction, fiction can become more meaningful with fact. 
Fashion brands such as Calvin Klein and Nike have taken a factional marketing approach in recent campaigns and demonstrated that the involving nature of a fictional storyline can be much more emotive and more memorable than other types of marketing. Take Calvin Klein’s interactive digital campaign for its new men’s fragrance and the short film to promote Lady Gaga’s  womenswear Eau de Parfum ‘Fame’. We are accustomed to generic fragrance adverts, yet both of these factional marketing campaigns stand out by portraying dark, mysterious stories which entice the consumer, temporarily immersing them in the fictional fantasy of the story whilst connecting to them to the factual product.

Calvin Klein 'Encounter' Advertising Image

Still from Lady Gaga 'Fame' Promotional Film

Fashion magazines are renowned for creating narratives within their editorial photo shoot sequences, and films and novels remain a major source of consumer entertainment, so it makes sense that brands are using the well-established appeal of fictional storylines and blurring this with fact to produce influential marketing campaigns. Perhaps it’s a comfort thing; a reminder of childhood, or a form of escapism from current austerity, but by constructing fictional stories around genuine products and brands, companies are cleverly tending to our inherent human need for stories whilst fuelling our aspirations and desire for consumption. Manipulative? Yes. But highly effective.
Despite revolutionary changes in the way that we shop, work and live,  basic human instincts remain fundamentally unchanged. What is changing significantly is the way we interact with the world; our expectations of the brands we buy into and the products and services they provide. As consumer expectations continue to increase, brands continue to seek more innovative ways to engage them. In the words of Robert McKee, ‘Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.’ Acknowledging the emergence of faction marketing as an example of this, I’m inclined to agree.

A Glimpse of Maison Martin Margiela with H&M

“We will bring together the contrasting universes of the two houses in ways that will surprise all.” MMM

Producing a mainstream collection for a commercial retail powerhouse like H&M seems quite contradictory for a brand of such niche, fashion cult status as MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA. However, the MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA with H&M collection offers a new interpretation of MMM’s vision of pushing its democratic instinct forward. And opposites attract, don’t they?

Working with one of the most influential fashion houses of the past three decades, it’s no wonder the creative advisor at H&M is excited about this recent collaboration. The launch has been eagerly anticipated by the whole of the fashion world since the partnership was officially announced in June. Fusing concept and creativity with wearability, the essence of the collection reinvents volumes and modifies shapes in line with MMMs signature exploration of deconstruction and transformation, yet with structure and control.

A statement cut-out leather jacket and red draped dress with billowing asymmetrical hem are stand-out pieces of the womeswear collection. The menswear collection is more conservative, offering a range of unique wardrobe staples for Autumn/Winter, as well as a few extra special pieces and statement coats (note the inside-out jacket, belt jacket and fake fur coat par example). The pared-down nonchalance of denim and relaxed winter sweaters juxtaposes crisp white shirts and elegant smoking jackets with a sharp tailored edge. It’s not so much radical, as undeniably covetable.

The collection is due to launch on November 15th 2012 and will be available in 230 stores worldwide and online. It’s sure to be a sell-out!

Written for beige magazine

Dolce and Gabbana Alta Moda Couture by Anna Dello Russo for Vogue Japan

As sombre as it is beautiful, 'Once Upon A Time in Sicily' is a mournful yet captivating story which portrays the elegant drama of Dolce & Gabbana in dark, foreboding style.

Art directed by fashion photographer Giampaolo Sgura, and shot by Franceso Parrella, the photo shoot and short film for Vogue Japan are set in stunning Sicilian locations and highlight the exquisite Alta Moda couture collection by Dolce and Gabbana. 

First presented in Taormina, Sicily, in July, the spectacular debut Alta Moda collection is still a talking point months later. Styled by Anna Dello Russo, the delicate black lace, black veils and black organza  worn by flawless, grieving models perfectly capture the spirit of the Sicilian window and create a deeply nostalgic, ancient Italian feel to the shoot. 

Black is the undertone of the story; the melancholy funeral cortege, the emotive black and white imagery and sorrowful music soundtrack are indicative of mourning and loss. However, there is also a sense of serenity in which the timeless beauty and intricate craftsmanship of the clothes enhance the affecting poignancy of the story. 

All photographs from Vogue Japan. Copy and paste the link below to watch the stunning film:

Enjoy and reflect.