The conclusion of New York Fashion Week has brought the inevitable social media round ups, including ListenFirst’s Digital Engagement Rating, which measures consumer engagement across Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube and Wikipedia combined with organic conversation volume, post engagements – such as a “like” or a retweet – and general searches. The usual suspects top the list: Michael Kors, Victoria Beckham, Tommy Hilfiger, Marc Jacobs, and Ralph Lauren. Coming in at number three on that list, though, is a largely unknown name in the upper echelon of fashion: Sherri Hill.
Nestled in between Victoria Beckham, who garnered 4.3 million engagements, putting her in the number two spot, and Tommy Hilfiger, with 2.4 million, nabbing him the number four spot, is Sherri Hill, the Austin, Texas-based designer, who enjoyed 3.2 million engagements during NYFW. Hardly one of the top NYFW names, Hill first made her mark in the fashion world when various Miss USA, Miss Universe and Miss America contestants won titles in her gowns. Now, Hill, who made her NYFW debut in 2011 (Kendall Jenner walked in that show before she gained fashion industry acceptance upon walking in Marc Jacobs’ F/W 2014 runway show), maintains a business with a network of over 1,000 stores in over 30 countries.
As for how this relatively obscure name on the NYFW calendar, which is best known for the shows of Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Proenza Schouler, Alexander Wang, DVF, and the like, ended up on social media engagement lists, WWD has an idea: “Hill had the distinction this season of having Olympic gold medal winners Simone Biles and Aly Raisman in the audience.” Such extra-garment elements are, after all, what tend to drive such engagement.
Michael Kors, for instance, which topped the list with 9.6 million engagements with its #AllAccessKors campaign, had some re-enforcement. “Having Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid in [his] show also helped boost engagement,” noted WWD’s Lisa Lockwood. The same can be said for Tommy Hilfiger, which staged an over-the-top carnival-themed event for 2,000 people, complete with a Gigi Hadid collaboration and uber-famous guests, such as Taylor Swift.
The runway show is, after all, no longer merely a place for a brand to show its seasonal offerings. In fact, the runway has not been about the clothes for quite some time (arguably since runway show's invite lists extended beyond clients and retail buyers planning the stock for the upcoming season). Nowadays, the runway extravaganza is a way to broadcast a brand’s message, to firmly situate themselves in the social media spectacle (to better connect with consumers, of course), and to give show-goers – some of which are increasingly members of the public – an experience, which will ideally encourage them to shop. And any brand with a buzzy-enough front row of celebrities or an over-the-top set can compete.