Fashion Film: On Brand and On Budget

Fashion Film: On Brand and On Budget

Fashion brands often fall into the trap of “digitizing” static print material for the web. The result always leaves the audience wanting for a deeper level of interaction. Video production within the fashion space is no different.

If digital has created a new world with it’s own language and code of communication, then video is our equivalent to song. It is the most potent tool available to strike a connection and evoke emotion in this new language. However, the problem is that rather than treat online video as its own entity, brands instead do one of two things: 1. Treat it like a Hollywood film for consideration at Sundance, or 2. As a cheap, quick office task handed to the only intern with a Flip cam. Rarely do we see brands understand that fashion film should be conceptualized, directed, and edited differently for online, regardless of the budget.

Just recently we wrote how users infer an opinion within the first seven seconds that they are on a website. This opinion directly informs their actions; if they will stay on site and interact, purchase, register and share, or leave and abandon the experience entirely.

Fashion, in particular, is an industry that is rooted in the story. Its customers are specifically interested not just in the product, but in the heritage of the brand that has produced it, the creative mind behind it, the people who wear it and those who critique it. We want information that spans the spectrum, and we want a taste of it within seven seconds, or we’re gone.

So how can fashion brands make better use of video? Answering that question at last week’s FashionForward event, was Harriet Mays-Powell, founder of The Look Now, a trend forecasting site applauded for on-trend perspective and high quality, original video content. On The Look Now, mini movies replace the traditional fashion shoot by showcasing not just the product, but also the underlying narrative in a format that is clearly more expressive, energetic and engaging. Harriet happens to be one of the few who understands the nuances of fashion film in the digital era.

For Harriet, regardless of the budget, it’s all about the creative direction; having the eye to understand what best showcases a brand or an item in a way that compels, engages and tells a story, even if that story is just a few seconds long.

An interesting point brought up was how fashion brands often install a videographer at a photo shoot, someone who’s often on the heels of the celebrity photographer capturing b-roll footage. Often this is seen as a play in efficiency and resourcefulness; the photo-shoot is already taking place so why not capitalize on the backstage appeal? Mays would contend, though, that in this case you’re not treating video as a separate entity with it’s own set of possibilities. Rather, you are recording an experience that’s primary intention is to be static.

But many brands shy away from treating video separately for fear that it requires “separate” resources, i.e. money.

As a solution, Mays brings a new level of efficiency in a way that breathes life into video shoots. On her site are “trendettes”, mini videos that are conceived, directed, styled and edited by her and her team (as shown below). They shoot 3 of these mini-movies in just one day.

As if naturally evolving in the digital space and understanding the growing need retailers have to deliver enticing, product-centric content in a quick, manageable format, Mays has started filming video content at traditional as well as ecommerce product shoots. This video content is roughly five seconds long and designed to feature product. Rather than showing a smudge of red lipstick, or a flat product picture on a site, think of a five second video where you watch a model apply it. That sounds like more fun already.

This can potentially revolutionize the visual merchandising approach online, as well as the marketing approach, because it offers a new and surprisingly cost effective way of both showcasing product and telling a story. The product isn’t just a moving image; the product is desire, and a stirring of emotion.

Photo Credits: Richard Seagraves


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