Are fashion memes – absurd or brilliant?
In the age where there are currently 3.8 billion smartphone users across the globe and more than 3.6 billion are using social media being a trending topic is the ultimate prize. With these social media users continuously sharing viral content the easiest way for fashion brands to get on top is by turning luxury fashion into fashion memes.
In the year 2015 Spanish high fashion house Balenciaga (now owned by luxury French fashion group Kering) made its comeback, after the appointment of Demna Gvasalia. Gvasalia, a creative genius, has completely reinvented Balenciaga from being an haute couture from the 1800s brands to a brand that believes it exists years into the future.
One of the most potent ways in which this brand has made a comeback is via the power of fashion memes! We all have heard of memes that have been around for almost a decade now – from the famous distracted boyfriend meme to the Drake this not that meme. But fashion memes have risen to prominence. These are used by both social media creators and brands to gain likes and shares. Fashion brands are using meme culture to engage with their followers. Fashion – as an industry has always embraced and celebrated new cultural phenomena and ideas. Hence, it is no surprise that some brands Gucci, Balenciaga, Viktor & Rolf, and Louis Vuitton have taken to using memes as a form of guerrilla advertising. In their use of memes, the fashion brand is seemingly attempting to bridge the distance between itself and the consumers.
As the age-old saying, ‘Any publicity is good publicity by the look of it, the fashion memes by Balenciaga absolutely embrace this idea.
From its Ikea rip-off, most obscure releases, and virtual clothes in Fortnite the love-hate relationship that people share with Balenciaga has thoroughly worked in its favor. Using this model of “media richness,” consumers are able to contribute to the joke either through consumption, by contributing, or by creating their own memes adding to the virtuous cycle with the brand, thus increasing the brand’s affinity.
A recent study suggests that consumer engagement and behavioral intentions are more influenced by media richness than content trustworthiness. These campaigns explode and make it to everybody’s homepage and as a result, the brand’s audience grows. And it doesn’t stop there – because not ALL of their products are fashion meme products! Users who end up on Balenciaga’s Website or store to check out these fashion meme products actually end up purchasing other products.
Why this change?
For the past four years, Balenciaga has been standing out in the market. In 2018 the CEO of Balenciaga stated that ‘60% of the consumers are Millenials’. This impressive growth of the brand is due to several factors, but mainly due to thousands of young people of the “Millennial” generation, who now represent one-third of the global luxury goods market, who believe in the designer’s luxurious vision of streetwear. This is communicated and celebrated well on all social media networks.
As a result of the pandemic, social media has gained in human attention to the point where 30% of US users are spending 1-2 hours online. In particular, this led to the addition of new online shopping behaviors.
For brands, participating in meme culture has long presented a dilemma, since they often fear appearing inauthentic by using the same language younger audiences use. But at the same time the growing problem that luxury brands face today, is their target audience getting older. Balenciaga has proved to be successful in reaching out to the younger generation by directly speaking to them. Its authenticity has helped it go viral over the internet, stay relevant, and helped sales.
In an era where fashion is driven by social media, it is critical to start and maintain conversations with your audience. Once again, he turned the waning brand into a contemporary powerhouse. By creating designs that are not only saleable but shareable, Balenciaga has successfully used memes to bait users across the globe and set a new high for the world of fashion memes.
September 14 2022