To me, the greatest marketers are fashion icons. And by fashion icons, I don’t mean best-dressed supermodels or celebrities. I mean ordinary individuals who do compelling work that suddenly makes them seem extraordinary.
Some of my main fashion icons are André Leon Talley, former editor of Vogue magazine; Dapper Dan, the underground creative genius who sold luxury fashion to pimps and gang stars; Diana Vreeland, who worked as a columnist and editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar and later was editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine, and finally Anna Wintour, the mysterious and secretive British journalist who has been editor-in-chief of Vogue since 1988, and director global content for Condé Nast since 2020.
I study the work and follow the movements of these four people because I believe their knowledge of the subject matter is endless, the obsessive passion is contagious, the thinking is incredibly divergent, the product appreciation is deep, and the attitude is rebellious. to do their work appeals to me.
These five variables are the essential ingredients that are consistent in every individual’s profile, and I believe they are extraordinary. Fashion or not, they are extremely savvy concept and product marketers who I think can sell anything as long as they care or care enough. It’s like what Jay-Z said in ‘Dirt Off Your Shoulder’ – “I’m the realest who runs it, I happen to rap”.
So, they are amazing humans, but why are they great marketers? The first factor we will explore is vanity. As you know, the fashion world has been criticized for being unreal and vain.
People in the industry supposedly act like fashion is the real religion (pun intended), and nothing else exists – and I wonder why that’s so wrong. If you don’t believe so much in the work you do, how do you expect anyone else to?
If Steve Jobs didn’t have a blind belief in designing interfaces and experiences, would he have been able to convince others to become partisan enough to make Apple the status of the world’s most valuable company? I do not think so.
Anna Wintour is considered the most powerful woman in the global fashion industry, and I’m not sure she’s ever even sewn a stitch. Fashion designers treat her like the Queen of England and consumers are constantly trying to demystify her.
But what makes Anna so powerful isn’t just the mystery behind her dark hues and wicked bobs, it’s that she runs Condé Nast – the ultimate lifestyle brand conglomerate and melting pot. of vanity – which is a guaranteed marketing machine that sells everything and anyone.
The next factor to consider will be personality. Everyone who has been or is a leading voice in the fashion industry are absolute originals. From physical appearances to personal idiosyncrasies, the aforementioned four are very authentic and unapologetic about how they behave and are perceived.
This authentically shows in their personal branding, making them absolute magnets for their various tribes. This makes it easier to connect with their audience and facilitates persuasion and conversion.
Reading Dapper Dan’s memoir aptly titled “Made in Harlem” – I noted an interesting story he told about touring Africa and arriving in Senegal, where most of his money was spent on buying fine fabrics which the tailors made into fine suits for him. This almost blocked him in Africa for that matter.
Dap likes to look chic, and one thing that’s consistent with him and every other fashion icon I follow is the compulsive need to cultivate and appreciate style.
Another important factor is Showmanship. If you are browsing the history of fashion; studying rollout plans, exhibits, and having conversations to drive sales and conversation, you’ll notice that fashion is very histrionic.
Fashion designers and some fashion editors are the biggest showmen. They know how to put together a show or magazine that makes everyone stop, point and talk.
For me, Diana Vreeland still remains the only fashion editor who understood the charm of the human pose, the soul of an outfit, the personality of a typeface, and the architecture of a brilliant layout.
She was the master of detail and exaggeration – and she embodied both of those elements completely. Check out her documentary ‘Diana Vreeland: The Eye Must Travel’ whenever you can.
Also read: Why you should care about the fashion industry
The final factor that makes fashion icons marketing geniuses is sustenance. They understand the art of sustaining conversations long after exhibits have ended. The phrase “painting a picture with words” was probably originally used to describe André Leon Talley.
Her deep love for style, taste and character, combined with her vast knowledge of the fashion industry, helped her connect with fashion designers on a purely artistic level. This allowed him to tell the stories of their personality and their collections long after the last model left the catwalk.