The other day, I look at my three years old daughter who insisted on wearing her fuschia leggings much to her mother’s insistence to wear another color. She threw a fit and refused to accede until she got what she wants. It forced me to evaluate what fashion really is, and how early that one actually gets an opinion of what one wants to wear.
As I walked out of that scene, I chanced upon a digital ad with an anorexic airbrushed model, representing a global fashion house And at that point, I wondered, what story are they actually telling?
How many times have you seen a luxury brand’s ad and wondered, what has actually gone into making this dress? What really inspired that designer? Did that really matter into the content, or was it just that celebrity who was shot in exotic locations and went on a rant about the new found confidence? This approach really disturbs me and contrary to agitations, this remains the norm.
Fashion is an industry that is associated with models on the catwalk, eating disorders, compulsive shoppers and expensive tastes. Fashion brand marketing obviously has been shaped by imagery and videos associated with them. Has this been overdone to an extent that the messaging is predictable, monotonous and exudes nothing but a lot of noise?
Coming back to my daughter, Fashion is something that expressed her personal sense of style, her individualism and that was so sacrosanct to her identity and self-esteem. At the age of 3, she was not willing to give up on that.
If that’s what fashion is, why hasn’t a medium like animation that can really propagate this approach seamlessly, taken off in this industry? This blog looks into how animation and fashion have explored synergies in the recent past with some examples and explores this as a viable medium to stand out from the predictable noise and looks to pose a question on whether this digital shift is a fad or here to stay.
Our story starts with the global fashion house Hermes, the company established in the mid-1800’s has its own story of ups and downs and today it is a 5 Billion dollar empire that manufactures leather goods, clothing, scarves, perfumes and other homeware. Unlike other fashion houses, they refuse to commoditize their production. They still work in mid-size factories in France, where a single artisan sees through the production of a particular good to the end.
Hermes has been on one of the leading propagators of animation in their messaging. From their timeline, it is evident that they started of with Top of the Funnel approaches for their Holiday messaging, the earliest one dating back to 2013, where they used their iconic packaging as a character to celebrate the solstice. Sharing this creative fashion marketing idea from Hermes:
Hermes Noel 2013 (Click to Play)
In a more recent version, they have used a unique stroke language and used classical animation to convey, while the visual language is very different to the version 4 years ago, they have still retained their brand identity and made their orange box pop out in what is actually a monochromatic visual messaging.
Hermes Noel 2017 (Click to Play)
This foray into animation got them really experimenting with this medium and then what resulted in a cornucopia of styles they explored and been successful with. To understand how much faith they have put into this medium, one needs to see their 600 Million dollars a year business unit (Scarves) marketing has relied upon the use of animation. As a marketer working in this brand, one has two options, he can easily show Queen Elizabeth II wearing a Hermes scarf, this supposedly most royal accessory, was once used as a Tourniquet by princess of Monaco (Actress Grace Kelly) for her broken arm or the infamous bondage scene in Basic Instinct where Sharon Stone was tied using Hermes scarf. But their messaging was never about the power of a celebrity, it was more towards the raison d’etre of their design, the story of the designers. They have always celebrated their uniqueness using animated styles. In the recent past, Hermes collaborated with Ugo Gattoni and created a series of scarves and when they promoted them, they did this with animation.
Hermes - Ugo Gattoni - Hippopolis Scarf (Click to Play)
The spot takes one through a visual journey of Ugo Gattoni’s imagination. In this utopia, Gattoni’s imagery opens us to a variety of interpretations (One wonders, whether it is a city of horses or whether it is a horse that is the city?), immaculate detailing taking up complex subjects existential subjects. In short, Gattoni’s design reminds us that everything is possible and the animation as a medium guides this imagination to what rests finally on the scarf. In another series, you can look his more modern wonderland, filled with landscapes vineyards, celebrating France’s Champagne region and the caves of Ruinart in his own unique way.
Hermes - Ugo Gattoni -Ruinart (Click to Play)
Hermes in this short 45 seconds manages to tell a story, uplift the brand, keep up with their tradition and also celebrate the artist’s vision. Now compare it viz-a-viz a live-action shot of this space, would it actually do justice to this spot or would Ugo talking 15 mins to the screen add any flavor to the messaging? A pertinent point to ponder at this stage to understand this magical world that animation is and its strength to seamlessly blend the real and imaginary world.
Hermes’ Hermesmatic a complimentary service where you can dip and dye your vintage scarves to new, was also launched using an animated spot. They call it a colorful metamorphosis! With a tagline ‘to fall in love again with your scarves’
Hermesmatic (Click to Play)
Hermes also understood the digital shift and transformed its visual language when presenting collections online, they have always carved their designs around an annual theme, in 2014, they presented Metamorphosis and true to its meaning, they used stop-motion animation to elucidate the story of their designs. The result is this stunning online teaser that blows your mind.
Hermes Metamorphosis (Click to Play)
Or when they had to tell the story of their mechanical watches, they went with a story of what goes into it, celebrated the artisans using 3D animation.
Hermes ‘the Mechanics of Time’
Hermes as a global house reminds us by using the animation that one can uniquely stand out from the norm, separate the noise and deliver a pure marketing message. Within this subtle message, they manage to brand almost effortlessly and create a recall that will stand the test of time. Also using animation they start reaching out to a young audience. Imagine a 6 year old forming an indelible impression of owning a Hermes scarf. She grows up to wanting that scarf and owning it one day.
It is undeniable that animation is effective in Fashion Marketing and Hermes is a great case study to explain this fashion marketing strategy, however, the prevailing herd mentality and the world of anorexic models still dominate and will still dominate for the foreseeable future. But in this world of Banal messaging, animation offers a unique opportunity to stay ahead of the pack and create a world of followers who will live the life of what the brand stands for and not loathe it.