Denim brands that stand out in a sea of blue are the ones that tell a compelling and honest story.
During a Kingpins24 panel, a group of influencers, marketing and social media experts discussed the ways brands should use online platforms to communicate these stories—not just to build hype for the end consumer, but also to appeal to retail buyers.
According to Matthew Oliver Wilson, CEO at men’s lifestyle magazine CeeAreDee, the buying process has changed immensely in recent years, placing less importance on representation at trade shows and more of an emphasis on the full brand experience. While he feels trade shows are still important, Wilson said they’re more about starting conversations and less about making on-the-spot sales.
“[A buyer] won’t place an order then and there—that’s pretty rare—but when he’s back in his hotel room, he’s going to look up and see what that brand actually offers directly to consumers,” Wilson said. “He’s going to see if that lifestyle and aesthetic the brand is promoting aligns with his customer base, and he’s going to make a decision from there.”
In this sense, social media serves as an extension of the brand. Those who put effort into researching brands—and many are—will often look to their social accounts for context.
“The story behind the garment is playing a larger role,” said Robin Meijerink, Robin Denim founder. “Who made my clothes, what materials are in it, how is it being made?”
Social media then becomes a platform for brands to tell these stories that may not have been as easy to tell years ago. But Thomas Stege Bojer, Denim Hunters founder, warns against blatant marketing.
“Social media is not a billboard,” he said, stating that he feels it is often misunderstood by companies. “It seems that some are missing the social part of it.”
Bojer recommends companies remain conversational and “active” online. This taps into the concept of authenticity, which has now become a buzzword when discussing what younger generations expect from brands. The Gen Z demographic, having grown up with technology, is especially attuned to the difference between a conversation and a post.
To communicate important values—which can often come off as promotional if a brand isn’t careful—Meijerink suggested zooming out and looking at the larger picture.
“Before you even start, you need to think about the purpose of the campaign. And when you have the purpose, you have to create a story,” he said, adding that otherwise it just becomes a series of buzzwords that have lost their impact. “The story is very important, and the story needs to be real.”