8 Questions: FASHION & TECH SERIES with Joanna Riley-Weidenmiller of 360 Fashion
JRW: I am CMO and partner of 360fashion Network (www.360fashion.net), 360Fashion is a network of high-level fashion professionals using the latest web 2.0 and mobile technology to market their brands. 360Fashion members use live blogs, mobile magazines, Facebook streaming and Facebook/Web/Mobile ecommerce stores to expand their brand reach. I work closely with fashion professionals to generate revenues through the technologies developed by the 360fashion team. My focus and mission is to increase exposure, revenues and monetization for the leading brands as they go global. 360Fashion is the first business network focused on using technology to innovate and push forward the fashion industry. The digital platforms support and bring the brand message and product to where the customers are online. 360Fashion was the first company to bring blogging and social media to the fashion industry and pioneered mobile reporting with Nokia Corporation.
SFFAMA: Where do you see fashion and technology heading?
JRW: I see fashion using mobile catalogs, live TV/Steaming, Facebook/SNS shopping, ecommerce video/commercials engaging the online buyer, fashion games, geo-locating of merchandise, sema codes (bar codes that launch mobile application showcasing the brands products), twitter engagement (D&G). * It is extremely important to understand the power of the blogger or user generated content, with over half the web content being user generated (discussing brands, making videos about brands, “liking’ and ‘friending’ brands, it is important brands have a voice, but also listen and engage the audience, making them want to ‘share’ their information. *Facebook, blogs, Twitter and customer reviews are considered the most effective tactics for getting consumers to talk up products online. (Etailing survey of 117 companies, September 2009)
SFFAMA: Why is technology important in the fashion world?
JRW: Since the rise of technology there has been a major shift in the consumer buying trends, over 85% of the worlds population has used the internet to make purchases, which is a 40% increase just two years ago, and more than half of internet users are ‘regular buyer’ (at least once a month) (Nielsen). Brands must adapt to this change, by bringing their brands to the existing audience, where the already are ‘hanging out’. Brands must adapt to mobile and social media as the leading opportunities to penetrate their market. To give you a few statistics; 83% of online shoppers said they are interested in sharing information about their purchases with people they know, while 74 percent are influenced by the opinions of others in their decision to buy the product in the first place. (Manage Smarter, September 2009). 53% of people on Twitter recommend companies and/or products in their Tweets (ROI Research for Performance, June 2010)
SFFAMA: What tech gadget can’t you live without? What do you use it for?
JRW: I am still old school, I need my computer, yes I have every gadget, but it just has everything I need, and I find when I have a easy to user/read keyboard and screen I write better, even vs. my ipad. I use my computer for everything. When at a fashion event I do enjoy bringing the Nokia N8, but blog with the N97, it is fast easy and I can fit it in my bag and outfit easily as I run around doing interviews and get what I need, great video/sound quality.
SFFAMA: What fashion item can’t you live without, and why?
JRW: A great suit! I have very distinct style, but I run companies so it has to also be conservative, I have to be business ready all the time, I am always on planes, so it has to be comfortable. I love my Balmain suit jacket it is sexy, professional, totally trendy, and I can wear to a party after.
SFFAMA: Who do you think is the most influential personality in the fashion world, and why?
JRW: Great question, I think everyone would agree that Anna Wintour, editor if vogue is quite the style icon, who is the exact image of the ‘fashion powerhouses’. I am very impressed personally with Heidi Klum, I look up to her in beauty, entrepreneurship, family, belief in new designers, and she is amazing at branding herself and adapting to her changing age and career, total icon in my mind. Ralph Lauren and D&G really have done a great job publicizing their use and success of social media to attract the consumer.
SFFAMA: What is different about San Francisco fashion compared to other metropolitan cities?
JRW: As I work overseas, I love hearing international brands tell me that SF is the #1 market that they want to penetrate in the US, and every time I am surprised they didn’t say NYC/LA. SF is emerging changing, filled with terrific undiscovered talent (as well as some of the best brands in the world came out from this city) they are open for new styles and designs, and now as the world is working and looking to be trendy, comfortable and professional SF nails it. SF is not over the top, it is not couture, it is real, and that is where the world is today. I am very excited to see SF fashion change and emerge. It is really exciting to know that international brands already know this!
SFFAMA: What advice would you give to aspiring fashion entrepreneurs?
JRW: Ask a bunch of questions, learn your industry by asking leaders who have done it or are doing it, they will offer the best FREE advice. Network everywhere, change your normal group/events and fashion professionals, mix it up, you wont believe what you learn from other groups.
Joanna Riley Weidenmiller is the Chief Marketing Officer and partner of 360Fashion Network @ www.360fashion.net. She is a member of the board of advisors of San Francisco Fashion Merchants Alliance, Inc. Joanna previously hosted SFFAMA’s ‘The Fashion Tour’ event and is very active as a SFFAMA member and as guest speaker of SFFAMA’s monthly fashion and tech workshop series, ‘Fashion Mash-Up.’