When models took to the catwalk in Cotton’s 24 Hour Runway Show (Nov. 7-8), a record-high number of viewers were treated to a classic example of experiential marketing that hit on awareness, engagement and push-through to retail as it showcased the versatility of cotton.
The show reflected an ongoing consumer preference for cotton apparel. More than 8 of 10 (81 percent) consumers say cotton and cotton blends are their fibers of choice for apparel, according to the Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor Survey. Further, more than 3 in 4 consumers (76 percent) say cotton and cotton blends are best suited for today’s fashions, and more than half (53 percent) are willing to pay a premium for it. Not only do they prefer the fiber, but consumers will look for it: stats show nearly half (47 percent) of all consumers “always or usually” check fiber content labels before buying apparel.
Presented by Cotton Incorporated in partnership with PEOPLE magazine, the event garnered more than 1.2 million viewers. This year’s theme focused on “The Moments of Our Lives,” with each hour highlighting a different “cotton moment.” As such, one unique look came down the world’s largest runway every minute, for a total of 1,440 looks from more than 75 designers, brands and retailers.
The styles demonstrated how cotton pieces could be worn in a myriad of situations, while appealing to consumers who appreciate the fabric for being comfortable (88 percent), soft (85 percent), good quality (85 percent), casual (83 percent), durable (82 percent) and natural (81 percent), according to Cotton Incorporated’s Environment Survey.
ModCloth, the online retailer of all things vintage-inspired, was part of the lineup.
“We were thrilled to have 24 pieces that make up 10 complete looks walking in the show this year,” says Alyssa Catalano, ModCloth spokesperson and head of styling. ModCloth showed its looks in the “Sunday Brunch” moment at 1 p.m. on Saturday. “It was a no brainer to participate as we welcome any opportunity to showcase our unique assortment that will be shared out to so many. We were drawn to the idea of celebrating such a classic fabric in a new and exciting way.”
In a demonstration of cotton’s widespread appeal, the show streamed live over a variety of outlets, including TheFabricOfOurLives.com, People.com, InStyle.com and Essence.com.
PEOPLE’s Andrea Lavinthal, style and beauty director, said the magazine’s aim was to amp up the online excitement through its ability to bring viewers celebrity access and the latest fashion trends.
“This year we enriched the online experience, not only showcasing cotton’s fashion range on the runway, but also providing behind-the-scenes sneak peeks and commentary from our style editors.”
Viewers were also treated to commentary from international style icon Olivia Palermo, who joined several other celebrity hosts and industry influencers including Giuliana and Bill Rancic, E! News’ Jason Kennedy and TV Host Michael Yo from “The Insider” on CBS.
The show also wholly reflected South Beach’s vibrancy and nightlife. The first evening featured an energetic performance from multi-platinum recording star Jason Derulo, himself a Florida native, who entertained both local attendees and the online fashion fans. The music continued with a set from indie/electro soul artist Fantine on Saturday. The energy remained high with performances by Videosync, a local dance fitness program, as well as live deejay mixes from AcE aka Trey Smith, D.J. Irie, D.J. Chino, Aulden Brown and Jessica Who.
This year, viewers had the opportunity to purchase some of the looks straight off the runway at discounted prices, with special offers on valid cotton items.
The celebrity factor combined with the ability to instantly purchase presented a potentially powerful selling tool, especially considering 32 percent of consumers say their clothes are impulse purchases, according to the Monitor survey. Add to that, nearly 4 in 10 consumers (38 percent) say they stay on the cutting edge of fashion or adopt style changes quickly.
The importance of the show’s e-commerce component is further indicated as 70 percent of consumers say they browse the internet for clothes, according to Monitor data, and 32 percent of shoppers say they consider what they see online as a source for apparel ideas. The show also enlightened viewers as to each brand’s latest collections, which is meaningful for the majority of consumers (56 percent) who say their typical new apparel purchases are new and different clothes.
The participation by major retailers and designers is evidence of the show’s impact. The first hour kicked off with Anthropologie, Bloomingdale’s, French Connection, LF Stores, Norma Kamali and Tommy Hilfiger. From there, participants included Banana Republic, Lilly Pulitzer, 525 America, Quiksilver, The Cotton Bride, BB Dakota and 7 For All Mankind.
“We were excited to return to Cotton’s 24 Hour Runway Show,” said Andy Griffiths, vice president of marketing for 7 For All Mankind. The company’s styles were featured in the show’s “Happy Hour” segment. “Cotton is a staple to everyone’s wardrobe and the foundation for our jeans. Our customers appreciate the hand-feel and comfort of the fabric.”
Griffiths adds that South Beach is the perfect location to showcase its collection. “The multimedia elements in this year’s 24-hour showcase of cotton fashion provided exciting opportunities for us to connect with new and existing customers.”