Russian fashion scene is little more than 20 years old, yet it’s already flourishing. We have picked some Russian designers and bloggers who have taken leave of the former Soviet styles, and are offering not only a new take on how to dress well but also how successfully upgrade social media engagement.
What kind of social media channels Russian bloggers and fashion brands use to boost the engagement?
Social media engagement: how to interact with the customers?
Asya Malbershtein started out making leather bags, backpacks and clutches before embracing bondage – inspired leather accessories, designed to wear them for everyday outfit. St Petersburg-based designer has combined the mood with minimalist dresses, skirts and coats.
Osomo2some is one of the first brands in the new wave of small, independent labels producing quality, very original and believed to be at affordable level at the same time. Behind the reinvention of contemporary wear are Anna Andrienko and Natalia Buzakova. They are both experts in tailoring and fine fabrics.
What those esthetically different brands have in common? They both use VKontakte as one of the main social media channels. It’s available in several languages, but is especially popular among Russian – speaking users. Like other social networks, VK allows users to message each other publicly or privately, to create groups, public pages and events, share and tag images, audio, video, and to play games.
Founded in 2006, VKontakte is today the main social network in Russia, and the second most visited website in the country – only after Yandex (the search engine). VK is believed to be one of the most important channels for social media marketing – especially referring to younger audience.
VK is widely used as a channel for promotion and branding and there’s a vast space for contextual advertising campaigns, such as video ads. The brand’s activity is based on posts and discussions. Brand can also upload video and audio files on the page.
Community management on Vkontakte must be taken into serious consideration. Some pages show very high posting frequency – up to a post even every 15 minutes! There’s only one main rule to follow: create a lot of content and share it!
Russian fashion brands use VKontakte as very effective promotional channel. Sela is Russian casual wear brand, which started in the early 90s. On VK, the brand has a community of about 60 thousand followers. The content is focused on style-related tips and product information, mixed together with more off topics (such as horoscopes). The posts are balanced with public polls related to pop culture, style and celebrities as well as various kinds of contests or quizzes with giveaways and discounts. As an example, a contest called “First Snow”: the fan who’s been able to guess the correct day of the first snow in Moscow region, won a “hot item” from Sela winter collection.
Social media emgagement? How to boost the wider audience?
Apart from Asya Malbershtein’s bondage-inspired hand crafted leather accessories, the husband and wife duo Ilya Fleet and Resha Sharma created very similar concept for a brand called Fleet Ilya. Fleet trained as a saddler maker in Russia and Resha Sharma studied at London’s Central Saint Martins. Duo creates clinch belts and leather visors.
Both Asya Malbershtein and Fleet Ilya have created accounts on Pinterest. Why Pinterest should matters for the brand? During the first annual commerce conference Shoptalk, Pinterest was branded as the visual, digital discovery tool, which fast become the world’s catalog of ideas. How important is to create Pinterest account and attract new customers?
- Pinterest launched buyable pins last June and at the moment the tool offers 50 million products from over 20 000 retailers which are available to purchase.
- Pinterest is a catalogue of ideas and 75% of all the content on Pinterest is from businesses.
- Pins have the potential to boost the wider audience. They could be branded on websites to make them shoppable.
- According to Tim Kendall, Pinterest’s President, the tool is 98% skewed towards women. Female shoppers are all about product discovery. “They are much more interested in the casual browsing experience with the product. Men prefer a more directive approach”.
- Last but not least, Pinterest is attracting completely new customers for brands – they are totally new consumers for the brands, which spread the interactions with potential customers.
Social media engagement: How to communicate with the customers?
Ulyana Sergeenko is one of the best known Russian designers today. Lady Gaga and Dita Von Teese are among her fans. Designer’s collections always come with a story – could be a train travel, fairy tales, literature. Her storytelling is perfectly reflected on Instagram.
Alexander Terekhov, who trained at Yves Saint Laurent, has been designing red carpet dresses for Russian celebrities. The designer blends the high chic of Russia fashion capitals with classic glamour, which is his signature.
Although there are luxury brands, they decided to communicate with the customers via What’s App. Almost one seventh of the world’s population now is using this service. The app wants to avoid third-party ads, but brands are finding other ways to reach users. Terekhov and Sergeenko are using What’s App to communicate with customers on the platform avoiding ads and messaging spam.
Social media engagement: How to tell the story?
Although ZDDZ is London-based, the label has its Russian connection engraved all over the clothes. Dasha Selyanova has created the brand which for each season makes a bold statement. From hype typography copied from posters, adverts and billboards, through loud colours and soft spots for collage prints.
Gosha Rubchinskiy is well-known for introducing post-Soviet skater fashions outside of Russia. Two years after his Paris runway debut, designer, photographer and filmmaker has capitalized on the zeitgeist with collections focused on 90s. Sightings of his Cyrillic text logo T-shirts and socks went viral from London to Milan and Paris.
Designer took to social media to announce the open call for the casting of his SS17 show. Simply asking interested males to submit name, age, contact info and Instagram account for applications. It’s nothing new to host an open call on social media. However, Rubchinskiy’s post stirred such an engagement that the designer took out the post just few hours after putting it online. He filled the vacancy.
Runchinskiy is frequently invited to curate the Instagram’s account of Fashion and Lifestyle Magazines such as Russian Edition of DAZED. The activity of curating the social media accounts works as cross-promotion marketing. It’s a win-win situation for both parties. Cross-promotion marketing is easy and often considered one of the most successful marketing strategies. Both businesses can promote themselves simultaneously.
Similarly to Rubchinskiy’s inspiration of street subcultures of Russia, Nike Woman launched a real-time, personalized campaign in Russia to connect Instagram and street art community. Selected Instagram photos from Nike’s fans were photoshopped, printed on large paper and put as street art on walls all over Moscow. The Instaposters were a hit with Nike’s community as they made 50 posters from over 26 000 photos from the campaign.
Instagram’s accounts of Russian designers such as ZDDZ, Gosha Rubchinskiy and Lesia Paramonova are more of storytelling and engaging beautiful or aggressive images – depends on the brand’s DNA. In the middle of Fashion Weeks it’s always good to follow few extremely influential accounts. Miroslava Duma is a successful Russian writer and entrepreneur who has made a name for herself in the world of international fashion. She is the founder of digital company, Buro 24/7 and its fashion and lifestyle platform Buro247.com. Duma first become famous in the fashion world following the appearance of photos of her outfits in popular fashion blogs like The Sartorialist. She has been photographed by Garance Dore and Scott Schuman. Natalia Vodianova, a Russian model and philanthropist, besides fashion, frequently upload content focused on charitable purposes.
Two designers, Ulyana Seregeenko and Vika Grazinskaya have created an impressive community of followers on Instagram based on power of visual storytelling. The best practice involves telling snackable, micro-stories that tie into the brand’s values, mission and purpose. Instagram is more about stories you tell, than stuff you make!
You can use:
- A compelling story from the history (vintage and retro images)
- User-generated content (e.g. the best photo from the customer)
- Helping people (as Vodianova does – show how you are taking action)
- Team leadership (great brands have amazing leadership behind them)
- Happy employees (best brands are showing off the fresh faces and the fun they are having at work)
- Behind the scenes (backstage or off-the-duty images)
- Rewarding true and loyal fans
- Anticipation (post some pictures of coming events to get people excited)
- Capturing real-time trends (add some commentary as Mira Duma always does)
- Photo collection (photo collections allow you to give strong visual representations of your brand values and purpose)
- Selfies (to add a personal touch)
- Inspiring quotes (which correspond with your brand values)
- Video storytelling (e.g. speak directly to your audience and tell them about your experience which has shaped your brand’s values)
Interest in Russian fashion is at an all-time high. With an intriguing cultural ecosystem, international exposure and mastering new practices on social media, the future is bright for Russia’s young designers and bloggers. Observing those activities, you can take advantages of their social media strategies and use it for your own grow.
Tell us about your own experience with successful online engagement activities on your social media channels! Leave a comment or write us a response. Want to stay in the loop in emerging social media strategies? Sign up for Lettly weekly newsletter and get in touch on Instagram/Facebook.