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Fashion/Beauty

Fashion and Instagram: The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship

An industry driven by the power of instant visual impressions has found a natural partner in the app that’s all about capturing the moment and passing it along to the rest of the world.

The growing partnership between fashion and Instagram almost makes too much sense: for example, a quick search for #NYFW on the network yields an endless bounty of shots taken by users who range from schooled photographers to gawkers and lucky gatecrashers. It’s the perfect tool not just for fashion followers but for designers themselves, who cop to co-opting others’ shots for both inspirational and promotional purposes. What better way to see what everyone’s wearing without dirtying your brand new shoes on the streets of New York or Paris?

Nanette Lepore, for example, tells The New York Times that she regularly scrolls through her fans’ Instagram clips, where the themes that emerge from a never-ending sea of shots give her ideas for upcoming collections (someone must have been wearing a lot of white and beige last year):

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Kenneth Cole Says Controversial Tweets Are Great for Business

One man’s PR fail is another man’s business plan…if that other man happens to be “designer with a conscience“ Kenneth Cole.

In case you thought some clueless intern was responsible for what seemed like a tactless marketing message playing off the possibility of war in Syria, you’re wrong: Cole writes these controversial tweets himself, and he does it all on purpose. Cue maniacal laugh.

When the designer responded to his latest manufactured controversy by stating that he intended to start a dialogue, he apparently meant “dialogue” as in “a conversation that will help promote my own company.”

So…the joke’s on you!

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Kenneth Cole Responds to Controversial Syria Tweet, Welcomes ‘Dialogue’

Last night, designer Kenneth Cole responded to yesterday’s “boots on the ground” Twitter controversy with an Instagram video that’s a bit bolder than expected: no retreat, no surrender, no apology.

While he claims that the purpose of such controversial messages is to encourage global “dialogue” about difficult issues like AIDS and armed conflict, the tweet still looked like a combination promo/ploy for attention from here. What was with the #footwear hashtag?

At the same time, he certainly owned it, didn’t he?

So…bold move or deflection?

Has Fashion Week Lost Its PR Luster?

Today is the first day of New York Fashion Week, which has some asking the question: has the event grown too big for its own size 2 capri pants?

It’s a serious query, because anyone with fashion clients knows it’s the industry’s biggest event. This year’s affair, however, has already been plagued with problems: the fact that it falls during High Holy Days forces Jewish designers and employees to “choose between the shul and the runway“, and a lawsuit filed over the fact that its 2010 move to Lincoln Center restricts access to that (public) park will almost certainly force the whole undertaking to move in the near future.

For a publicist, however, the issue is this: is Fashion Week still the best promo forum for new collections and designers? How can editorial voices be heard when Everybody Who’s Anybody is there?

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PR Fail: Kenneth Cole Still Thinks War Is A Funny Promo Gimmick

We have no idea who’s in charge of the Kenneth Cole Twitter feed, but they clearly haven’t learned that the prospect of armed conflict isn’t a good tool for selling clothing.

Ugh.

Here’s the thing that really gets us: It’s been, as of this post, about three hours (and many outraged responses) since the tweet went live. No deletion, no apology, no follow-up explanation. And, given the flack the Kenneth Cole received for this equally tone-deaf 2011 tweet about Egypt, we have to wonder if its social media managers are toying with us here. Seriously. Tell us we’re wrong.

What Can Estée Lauder’s New Focus on Corporate Responsibility Accomplish?

Yesterday brought news that The Estée Lauder Companies, in an move clearly designed to strengthen the brand’s reputation as a responsible company around the world, created a new position within its corporate responsibility unit.

The company chose Pamela Gill Alabaster, former SVP of corporate comms, sustainable development and corporate affairs at L’Oreal, to fill the new role with the general purpose of keeping CSR strategy “in alignment with the Company’s long-term business objectives”. What does that mean, exactly?

In recent years, Lauder launched various CSR initiatives focused on highlighting environmental programs and presenting a more diverse face to an expanding global market. The company has faced related PR challenges in the past, particularly on the subjects of sustainability and animal testing—both of which will be central to this new CSR move.

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Can Vogue Make Google Glass Fashionable?

Google Glass started appearing on models in runway shows nearly a year ago, so Google has known for some time that the “wearability” aspect of its newest product might prove…problematic. Several of the interviewees in the New York Times Bits blog’s recent take on this fashion conundrum even used the word “dorky” to explain their reluctance to wear Glass in public. But will a twelve-page Vogue spread really turn the tide in Glass’s favor?

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Unilever Restrings Musical Instruments with Human Hair to Prove its Strength

Agency JWT Singapore/Manila recently teamed up with Unilever shampoo brand Cream Silk Hair for an undeniably creative (and undeniably creepy) promotion.

In order to prove how well Cream Silk products strengthen hair, the pair organized a string quartet concert in a Manila mall. All of the bows used in the concert — usually made with horse hair because of its durability — were instead strung with human hair that had been washed and conditioned with Cream Silk products.

The ad below shows South East Asian bow-maker Paul Goh crafting the bows out of human hair as an instrumental version of Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida” plays in the background. The spot culminates with a clip of the 40-song, 240-minute concert, all of which took place with zero hair breakage (pretty impressive). The video closes with the compelling line, “Not only can strong hair be seen, it can be heard.” Read more

You’re Not Going to Love the Way You Get Fired. The Board Guarantees It.

Men’s Wearhouse has fired its venerable founder, executive chairman and beloved pitchman, George Zimmer. Mr. Zimmer launched the men’s clothing enterprise in 1973 with one store in Texas. Today there are 1,143 locations across North America.

The public came to know and love Mr. Zimmer from the popular commercials featuring his famous slogan “You’re going to love the way you look. I guarantee it.” Not only was Mr. Zimmer the face of the brand, but he also became part of our culture, a sort of everyman that made men who couldn’t afford $5,000 suits feel proud about the way we looked. He guaranteed it. And we believed him. The departure of Mr. Zimmer marks the end of an era.

As PR people who tout the many indisputable benefits of transparency when dealing with the public, we’re bemused by this development and lack of details surrounding it. The public likes Mr. Zimmer. His ousting appears to have been done with an intentional amount of disrespect and disdain. What else could explain the lack of an official statement from the board regarding such an important and controversial decision? Instead of getting in front of this, they did nothing, which is the PR equivalent of pleading the fifth. It’s how guilty people act. Read more

Abercrombie & Fitch Apologizes for CEO’s ‘Cool Kid’ Comments

Abercrombie & Fitch has been embroiled in controversy since Business Insider re-published disturbing comments CEO Mike Jeffries made in a 2007 Salon article, including doozies like, “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely,” and “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids…we go after the cool kids.”

In a society deeply engaged in anti-bullying discussions and efforts to make standards of beauty and “coolness” more inclusive, these comments ignited a widespread and fiery backlash, including a grassroots re-branding campaign and a Change.org petition.

The petition, started by 18-year-old Benjamin O’Keefe (who has himself overcome an eating disorder), garnered over 70,000 signatures and asked the company to stop sending the message that teens aren’t beautiful, demanding A&F start selling clothes larger than a size 10.

Here’s a graphic recently published in the Huffington Post, which shows the major hit Abercrombie & Fitch has taken over the past month. For the full effect, we recommend listening to this audio clip of a nosediving airplane while viewing the graph.

After a brief apology Jeffries recently posted on Facebook failed to turn the tide, the company invited O’Keefe and members of the National Eating Disorders Association to its headquarters in Columbus, OH last week to discuss their concerns with executives. After the meeting, A&F released this statement: Read more

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