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Brands on the Run — From the floor of MAGIC ‘16

Dressed to Thrill

MAGIC is “the global pillar of fashion trade shows.” Twice yearly, 60,000-plus industry insiders descend on Las Vegas to share trends and best practices that impact the massive global industry. In February 2016 the show’s exhibitors were segmented into 10 “markets” differentiated by product/industry specialty across the two largest conference spaces in the city: Mandalay Bay and the Las Vegas Convention Center’s North and South Halls.

I was asked to present on the topic of “Interactive Brand Strategy” and therefore had an opportunity to walk the entirety of the show’s markets during my visit. My legs were tired, my mind weary, but through it all, three brands stood out to me as hitting the mark when it comes to best practices and I’d like to share the experience. Let’s kick it off with:

Superdry

Launched in 2003, the Superdry brand has been growing in popularity over the past decade. The “future classic” apparel brand has found a winning strategy in targeting customers based on “attitude not age” and focusing on the production of quality garments. The brand has won over many high-profile celebrities, at no cost, helping boost brand awareness when its clothing is worn in public.

Superdry’s trade booth consisted of a few shipping containers that were modified in order to act as mini-stores within the show floor. I learned that these same containers can and are often used as pop-up shops at cultural events around the globe.

The brand representative at Superdry supplied me with one of the coolest — if not the coolest — brand book I’ve ever seen (outside of the entertainment business). The 20-plus page spiral-bound book covers everything from the brand’s origins and values to key personnel, product lines and global presence — and does so in appropriately bold style. Think of it as a look-book taken to the next level.

You can have a look at the (admittedly less cool, but still interesting) corporate brand information here.

TOMS

Unlike Superdry, Toms, a pioneer of the “one-for-one” approach to brand building with social giveback, had a very open floor plan for its large booth at the 2016 MAGIC conference. Having been an early supporter of the brand, back when they only had a few styles of shoes, I was eager to discover what all the buzz was about as I approached the space at the Mandalay Bay Conference Hall. Something told me this was one not to miss.

Around the perimeter of Toms’ floor space, visitors were able to explore the various products on offer, both classic and forthcoming, but the most interesting draw of the space was smack dab in the center. Here, set at high-top tables, Oculus Rift headsets (with accompanying headphones) were on display. Visitors were encouraged to try on the A/V headgear and, upon doing so, we were transported to rural Peru.

The 360-degree video experience put me with one of the teams from Toms on a “giving mission.” Together, we visited schools and family homes where the recipients of the “one-for-one” shoes learned and lived.

This engaging approach was a perfect fit for the brand. The ability to approximate the experience of giving undeniably humanized what was otherwise an abstract understanding of the brand’s core values. Short of actually accompanying staff on one of their trips, the immersive experience, around three minutes in length, was able to emotionally tie me, the viewer, to the mission.

Already a fan of the brand and its business’ guiding principles, I am quickly becoming a more vocal advocate for others to join me. Toms’ investment in this cutting edge way of story telling may make them the first for a wide consumer target market, but let’s hope that it is a trend many others try and copy and improve upon.

“A style for everyone, a movement for all.”

I’m told that all Toms stores have the Oculus set up. Find one near you, or view an approximation of the experience here.

Fjällräven

Who had the coolest brand presence at MAGIC 2016? Fjällräven! At least in visual style.

The outerwear and lifestyle brand’s space transported visitors to a Swedish mountain villa, complete with a cabin, faux snow and a bunch of mountain/ski gear to round out the look.

I learned that Fjällräven has only recently entered the North American market. They came to our shores a little over three years ago, long after having established themselves as the dominant cold apparel brand in Europe for decades (the company was established in 1960). The brand is only now starting to introduce more than a few SKUs of their most popular products (backpacks, jackets, pants), supporting the initiative with outdoor ad campaigns in large “cold weather” cities.

Of the three brands at MAGIC that I’ve discussed here, Fjällräven was the only one to incorporate high-quality video into its display. Visitors could learn about Fjällräven’s brand, image and products from a screen that was set up within a wall of multicolored backpacks.

I was surprised that more brands were not taking advantage of video to display their wares via runway shows or other lifestyle-focused imagery. In any case, Fjällräven made the statement that it is a serious contender in the market and that by wearing their gear, you too can truly “own the cold.”

This post originally appeared here, where I was serving the company as an Executive Producer for Brand and Interactive projects.


Brands on the Run — From the floor of MAGIC ‘16 was originally published in What’s Happening on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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