Tumbling Into the Fashion Scene, a Recap of FashionForward

Tumbling Into the Fashion Scene, a Recap of FashionForward

Tumblr has emerged as a microblogging platform that lends itself especially well to the fashion industry given it’s highly visual nature. At this point, so many fashion brands have established an official Tumblr presence that it would be difficult to name them all.

On the Tumblr panel at FashionForward, we brought together the fashion brands who are excelling within Tumblr, and who each take very unique approaches to the platform. We asked Jessica Coghan Kia to moderate the discussion based on her role at Starworks Group, and because much of the controversy surrounding Tumblr’s business practices in the news had originated from her own personal blog.

Cecilia Liu from Kate Spade, Kelly Thurman from Anthropologie and Alexandra Stielow from Edun each provided valuable insight on the Tumblr panel.

The discussion began by Jessica reminding us all that Tumblr is not just a currently revered platform, it is one with a strong following to back it up. On a global scale, Tumblr has picked up a whopping 76 million unique users, 32 million of which are stateside.

For each brand on the panel, the ways in which Tumblr is used varies, a refreshing fact because it means each brand crafts a unique strategy based on their identity, personality, values and customer.

For instance, Kate Spade uses a combination of Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr to provide a window into their stream of consciousness. Instagram is a powerful tool in generating the highly visual content they post to Tumblr about 5 times per day in a creative direction that conveys the brand’s ethos a “girl about town”. Behind the scenes is also an ongoing content theme, and their Tumblr reflects a larger marketing strategy that includes online and offline campaigns. In terms of reblogging the content of others within the community, Kate Spade acts as an individual might, one day reblogging 10 times, another day maybe only once, based on the content that compels them and is on-brand.

Anthropologie, on the other hand, began their Tumblr in May of 2011 and set the overarching theme to be “etymologie” where they choose a word of the week, from which all of their Tumblr content is derived. For them, a love of storytelling and sense of creative individuality is at the core of the brand, and Eetymologie provides a great starting point for these stories to unravel on Tumblr. The word of the week has become a way to allow both the internal team, as well as customers, to participate in the brand. Their posting strategy results in a minimum of one new post per day with reblogging that is in line with the word of the week and is authentic and genuine to the brand.

Edun’s “Department of Inspiration”,  as their Tumblr is titled, is a lens through which the community can see into the minds of the designers behind the brand. They started on Tumblr about one year ago and wanted to do something that was entirely image driven to maintain a clean and clutter free area. Through these images, Edun builds a narrative and their strategy remains consistent and focused. Tumblr is an artistic repository and content us updated 3 times per week, in a series format to illustrate “clusters” of inspiration. When it comes to reblogging, this is something they will be doing more of, once a more deliberate strategy is in place.

Whereas there is usually overlap with the content published on other social media channels like Facebook and Twitter, it seems that each brand is dedicated to continuing to treat Tumblr as a separate and distinct platform.

When it comes to a wish list of Tumblr functionality, the brands clamored for:

-Analytics to better understand the content that evokes the most response

-Demographic information about who their community really is

-Improved mobile experience

-Improved search functionality and the possibility to have a list feature to organize the community, similar to Twitter

For brands considering embarking into Tumblr, the panelists advise to have a sound strategy in place first and foremost, and to understand what purpose the platform serves to the existing community.


A question from the audience that touched upon a hot button topic was if the panelists saw Pinterest as a competitive channel to Tumblr. (Pinterest is a gallery style scrapbook site that allows users to collect products, create /share mood boards in a way that is highly individualized in a seamless user experience, with a click to purchase function.)

Each of the brands is excited about Pinterest and the possibilities. Kate Spade is interested in figuring out what content would be different for the brand on Pinterest, compared to Tumblr. For Anthropologie Pinterest is a platform on their radar and under consideration. Edun doesn’t see it as a competitive platform to Tumblr but one that needs to be determined in terms of brand strategy.

Photo credits: Tumblr panel photographed by Amy Seder at FashionForward


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