Keeping Up With Fashion’s Digital Revolution

The Vice President of Digital at KCD shares the secrets to success.

Danielle McGrory

The most predictable trend at fashion week nowadays is that technology will somehow work its way onto the runway. To kick-off Spring 2016, Apple announced a collaboration with Hermès and Zac Posen showed a dress featuring LED patterns created by Google’s Girls Who Code program. Later this week, Misha Nonoo will be showing her collection solely on Instagram—and the list goes on. For people like Danielle McGrory, the Vice President of Digital at KCD Worldwide, fashion has never been more exciting. Since starting her division five years ago, she’s worked on developing digital strategies for brands like H&M, helped Valentino create a digital museum, and orchestrated Misha Nonoo’s upcoming Insta-show. Here, she talks about fashion’s digital revolution, and tells us what’s in and what’s out in the social space.

How has KCD Digital grown since you started the division five years ago? In the beginning, I was managing databases and making sure we knew who every digital editor was. At the time, digital editors weren’t being given the same recognition as print editors from the agency as a whole, so my role was to establish those relationships and make sure that our clients were working with them and maximizing the potential of digital. In the time that I’ve been here, it’s exploded so much. Five years ago, it was one editor at each outlet and now everyone has these great, robust teams. There are also style bloggers and Instagram influencers. Our division now is all about who’s who and who’s relevant.

There’s talk that fashion blogs are “over” but do you think that’s true when bloggers have such a strong social media presence as well? I don’t think fashion blogs are on their way out, but I think maybe this era of the simple, “this is what I’m wearing every day” blog is on its way out. I think that for talented people, whether you’re a stylist or a photographer or a writer, the Internet and social media is an amazing tool because if you’re good enough and you can stand out, you can bypass having to work for someone else. You can do your own thing. There will always be creative people in the fashion industry, but I think that “style bloggers” are a little passé.

What about the future of street style? Street style has changed so much. The reason it was so appealing in the beginning was because it was natural, but now it feels so staged. But I do think that it will stay around because there’s a strong desire to see clothes on real people, and there always will be. When we work with brands, we tend to get a really strong response from someone wearing a look versus an editorial version.

Do you encourage brands to experiment with new apps like Meerkat and Persicope? I’m more hesitant than promotional. I am really against getting on an app for the sake of getting on it. For Snapchat, I completely see the value in terms of reaching a younger demographic and it’s great for publishing, but from a luxury brand perspective, I don’t personally think it’s the best marketing tool. It doesn’t seem like a natural fit. The way that the content disappears just seems silly to me. Also with Meerkat and Periscope—luxury brands like beautiful content and I don’t care to tune into a live stream via a tweet of a fashion show. But that’s just me! I get excited about things that add value for the brands and audiences that we’re working with and marketing to.

Luxury thrives on exclusivity, but the great thing about social media is that it’s accessible. How do you marry the two? How do you make social media seem luxurious? I think that it’s a balance between having standards and letting go a little bit. Brands need to understand that every single one of their Instagram photos is not going to be an advertising campaign, and they need to be okay with that otherwise they’re going to be in a holding pattern where they’re never going to be able to post anything. When the social media also comes from the creative behind the brand, it’s always interesting. Even on Twitter, it’s about finding your brand’s voice. What are you comfortable abbreviating? What are the words that you use?

Do you think presentations will ever become more popular than live fashion shows? I don’t believe everyone needs to show live. I think it’s bold for a young brand like Misha Nonoo to decide that she doesn’t have to, because the industry is a bit resistant to change. But for other brands, the show model works great. You have Marc Jacobs, which is a long-established brand and those shows are like theater. When you leave, you feel special and you feel like you’ve had a tangible experience. That’s so important. But every brand is able to produce on that level, and I think that’s why we see these younger designers taking other routes. We’re definitely at a turning point and I think in the next three to five years we’ll probably see smaller brands coming up with alternative solutions.

What do you think about fashion brands posting three photos in a row on Instagram or catering to the grid? Does it work? Everyone uses the grid differently. Jacquemus does three of almost the same image, but Balmain, who is one of our clients, will take a look and do an editorial shot, a runway shot, and a celebrity shot to show the range. I looked to see if one photo gets more engagement than the rest, like the first photo or the last photo, but it doesn’t seem to have a tremendous effect on engagement. Brands do it because it makes your profile very strong. So, I like it for some brands. I support experimentation. You just never know what’s going to work.

Photos: Keeping Up With Fashion’s Digital Revolution

Danielle McGrory. Photo by Mimi Ritzen.

Photo courtesy of @DanielleMcGrory.

Photo courtesy of @DanielleMcGrory.

Photo courtesy of @DanielleMcGrory.

Photo courtesy of @DanielleMcGrory.