In an age when Nowness is creating (or commissioning) genuinely interesting documentaries and art movies, why is it that fashion brands lose credibility with their mini films?
Luxury brands sell dreams. So the platform of video content should be perfectly placed to heighten the fantasy / desire – and with shoppable video it should drive sales too. Why are fashion brands are flummoxed by moving image, but can get photography and even choreography so right?
Contagious published a good thought piece about fashion films:
The author sites “the story” as being the biggest issue with fashion films, citing Dior’s “Secret Garden”, but I would argue that there are stories throughout, for example, Chanel’s recent marcomms history (Coco Mademoiselle with Keira Knightly, No 5 with Nicole Kidman etc)… the issue is that the stories are incredulous, vacuous, and boring. Not aspirational, not engaging, not interesting. Irrelevant, even. They don’t sell dreams, they sell nonsense. Our audience today is too savvy, too aware to be interested in that.
For me, fashion films of note would include David Lynch‘s and Chris Cunningham‘s efforts for Gucci… But only because of the surprising choice of directors. To be fair though, there are few better at bringing dreams to the screen. And Prada’s recent efforts with Sir Ben Kinglsey and Roman Coppola (“A Therapy“), or the “Candy” series with Lea Seydoux by Wes Anderson, which work because of the directors’ ability to tell a story that is compelling, surprising and engaging. They’re also charming. There’s a reason to watch them beyond pretty girls in pretty dresses.
So, how can the industry do better?
There is a clear opportunity to tell really interesting stories – about the brand, the product, the heritage, the modernity, the wearer, the author, the context, the culture… And more than great, “making of” shorts.
I love both brands, but if Dior x Fantastic Man’s piece, Rotation “All Of Us Will Learn” is being heralded as worth watching “more than once”, the bar is still set very low.
Fashion communications seem to exist in a bubble. Brands like Burberry and Saint Laurent may be challenging the norms with their marketing and branding, but because they’re learning from other industries than fashion, and are happy to even push wider contextual boundaries.
Nike know how to create content: they frequently publish films and books about “Sports Culture” in its widest meaning, that connect far stronger and more meaningfully, whether about Sneakerheads, Streetball or Dubstep.
Stories are the key: whether it’s the dream and heartache of being a professional footballer in “Zidane“; chasing your idols like “In The Hands of the Gods“; or even less overtly branded films about identity and belonging like “Somers Town“; or a fantastic adventure series like “The Hire“, we know that it is possible for brands to tell genuinely compelling stories.
(EDIT: Here are a couple of examples, that in my opinion, deliver on production, direction, story and brand. And are fashion (or at least, fashion brand) films: Fuct’s “The Doctrine” pt 1 and 2, and Han Kjobenhavn’s lookbook films)