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Why high fashion needs Threads

Luxury and approachability may not go hand in hand, but they sure work when it comes to social media

Why high fashion needs Threads  Luxury and approachability may not go hand in hand, but they sure work when it comes to social media

In The Social Network(2010), a then college drop-out Mark Zuckerberg played by Jesse Eisenberg said about the early days of Facebook, «The users are interconnected, that is the whole point. College kids are online because their friends are online, and if one domino goes, the other dominos go, don’t you get that?» Fast forward to 2023, and Threads, a nearly identical copy of the Twitter framework, is yet another social manifestation of that line. There is an energy around the platform as we all collectively wait for more of our friends to join. Although Twitter-specific competitors like Mastodon and Bluesky have emerged as alternatives, Threads is a platform that reminds us of all of the early days of social media, where pure connection and enjoyment were the main goals. With direct access to the established Instagram network and infrastructure of Meta, it has greatly benefitted, shattering previous records. Zuckerberg goes on to Thread, «I think there should be a public conversation app with 1 Billion+ people on it. Twitter has had the opportunity to do this but hasn’t nailed it. Hopefully, we will.» His sights appear to be on making a more wholesome version of Twitter. «The goal is to keep it friendly as it expands. I think it’s possible and will ultimately be the key to its success» says Zuckerberg. Of those now 110 million users, you would be hard-pressed to find major high fashion brands quickly embracing the platform. Of the current top 10 most influential fashion brands, not one has ventured onto Threads, but a few others have taken the plunge like Balmain, Vetements, Stone Island, and Vivienne Westwood.

Why high fashion needs Threads  Luxury and approachability may not go hand in hand, but they sure work when it comes to social media  | Image 462663

American-born brands like Tom Ford, Calvin Klein, and Ralph Lauren have also ventured into the space with very limited posts, while sportswear giants like Nike and Adidas - no New Balance or Asics yet - have jumped in with open arms. Much of the fashion space is still figuring out its place on the platform, as it places an emphasis on connections and the restoration of the written word as the centerpiece of conversation. The cornerstone of fashion is “the visual aesthetic” of the thing but a new approach is needed for platform success. Threads is forcing everyone to lean into a more approachable and humourous tone, something high fashion brands have historically never been great at, which leads to an area of opportunity for the industry. Ana Andjelic, Chief Marketing Officer of ESPRIT, author of The Sociology of Business, says, «Brands should absolutely lean into Threads. It is almost a perfect app as there's still this sweet, earnest, fun phase where it is fostering real people and real content.» Being fun or humorous digitally is as much a science as it is an art and isn’t easily fabricated if not already part of the brand DNA, but there are ways to engage through being more personable. Luxury holds an allure because, by nature, it is exclusive but Threads doesn’t just offer a chance to tonally change but also an opportunity to open up the curtains.

Post by @balmain
View on Threads

Looking at Balmain, it’s no coincidence that their most engaging Threads simply shared an image of their office in Paris—meaning out of all the images from campaign shots, to influencers, all the way to celebrities wearing their clothes, the thing that resonated the most was an image of a building. Why? Because that image broke down a layer of the allure and made the brand feel more accessible through sharing something most don’t ever get to see. If you aren’t funny, there is no need to lean into that but another key pillar is being real through a singular voice. «The best way for brands to utilize Threads right now is to combine their brand aesthetic and their tone of voice in one narrative. It forces brands to tell a story that can connect on a 1-on-1 level with their community,» says Andjelic. It is about being smarter with the content that is being shared on the “it” platform right now. 

Post by @jadebeguelin
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The same can also apply to brands. Visual imagery isn’t the only thing luxury brands can stand on when the heritage, history, and archival knowledge run so deep. Threads can highlight quotes from founders and legendary designers, conversations identifying or exploring style trends from the archives, old imagery around the brand inception, or references to the tailoring of the day.  All of these concepts live within a more refined lens that not only help maintain the luxury appeal but also fit into the way Threads is directing us to engage. Armed with a wealth of history the industry can lean into things people want to know and use the space for more thought leadership and expertise than what we currently see. Andjelic notes, «There isn't one size fits all approach and the best practices take years to emerge but right now is the time to build an audience before the big ad buys and sponsored content overtakes the platform.» On the flip side, many brands just haven’t joined because they don’t exactly know what it is yet, coupled with the major risk factor that accounts can’t be deleted. Additionally, trends have a way of making brands forget where their North Star is, all for a few minutes of fame, so there’s something to be said about those brands who’ve valiantly decided to stay off of it. Because, every truly cool kid knows that when everyone is doing something, then you definitely shouldn’t. But, whatever the reason, on or off, it is still the Wild Wild West and only time will tell if Threads is fated to be the social media platform we all deserve or yet another pretend attempt to create something to «connect us all.»