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Alice McCall goes digital

As fashion weeks around the world have been forced to rethink their operations due to the pandemic, designers like Alice McCall are discovering new ways to digitally connect with buyers.

As most of Alice McCall’s wholesale accounts are international, the brand typically sends email invitations to view its latest collection in Paris and New York. However, this season, buyers have been invited to book in a virtual appointment. The brand had originally planned to show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in May, which was cancelled.

Last Friday, Alice McCall launched a new pre-sale digital model, where buyers can order from its latest 12-piece collection, Resort21. Accompanying the new collection was a short film featuring models Gabriella Brooks and Kat Wu to bring “the collection’s story to life through a bold, vibrant and fun attitude”.

According to McCall, the digital showings have allowed the brand to offer a “multi-dimensional connection with the consumer” through livestreaming and its virtual showrooms.

“For me, there are so many relevant exciting avenues to explore to build a brand/consumer connection and engagement, and ultimately, drive sales,” founder Alice McCall said.

“It allows the customer to take the journey into our branded world on their own accord and in their own time. It’s also about enabling the brand to deliver consistent content that confirms our brand identity, leaving it at the forefront of the consumers’ minds.”

Like many retailers, Alice McCall shut its 13 bricks-and-mortar stores for six weeks and saw a 40 per cent increase in online sales.

“The past few months have forced us, in a positive way, to rethink and relook at the business model. We were able to look at what has been working and what hasn’t and ultimately have determined what changes need to be implemented to suit the market now as well as the future,” McCall told Inside Retail.  

“It has given us the opportunity to focus and work on rethinking and adapting other opportunities for trade within the digital space, which is becoming more and more important today, something we may not have taken the time to look at if it weren’t for the pandemic.”

Earlier this year, Alice McCall offered its Bon Bon collection through a Moda Operandi pre-order model, resulting in selling more than 800 units and generating nearly $200,000 in sales.

While McCall is embracing a virtual way of showing her collections, she said it does not replace the thrill and emotion that a live fashion show can evoke and the ability for a brand to share the story behind its pieces through sight and sound.

“Fashion Week allows the designer to showcase the art of dressing, the creative form and its function to the viewer or consumer through the excitement and drama of a show. It gives us a trajectory to focus on, design and create the perfect world for the Alice girl and completely seal off the collection’s aesthetic in detail through the lighting, music, models, location and so much more,”

explained McCall.

“The viewer enters the designer’s world. They are taken on the journey for that particular collection and it is an experience that wouldn’t have the same effect if shown through the digital platform.

“Most importantly it gives the brand the opportunity to showcase the collection and brand image to loyal and potential international accounts, international press and reach a wider audience on an international level in a creative form.”

 Of course, there is a high cost in physically showing a collection during fashion week while also juggling other elements, such as managing the venue and production of the event.  

“Having a physical show requires organisation and preparation to plan the perfect event. There are many things that need to be considered and fine-tuned – invitations, RSVPs, fittings. The running order of the show and seating charts can be quite political as you want to cater for everyone, especially press and wholesale accounts,” admitted McCall.

Fashion weeks around the world have switched to digital formats, including Milan Fashion Week in July and Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week in September. Last week, thousands of viewers from around the world logged in to watch the first virtual London Fashion Week, featuring a “see now, buy now” platform, Zoom calls between industry insiders, and digital galleries.

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