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The Luxury Brands Mastering Livestreaming

We take a look at the luxury brands swapping IRL for Instagram Live.

© Gucci

Livestreaming is bigger than ever before, with Instagram users seeing a 70% increase in viewership between February and March. Lockdowns across the world inspired designers to reach for their iPhones and get creative from the confines of their own homes.

Stats shared by Mark Zuckerberg, during a recent livestream of his own, revealed that more than 800 million people watch live videos daily across Instagram and Facebook, so it's no surprise that the platform has rolled out a number of new features to enable brands to get the most out of their live broadcasts. In addition to the news of Instagram Live Shopping, users now have the option to view Instagram Live broadcasts on desktop computers. This means that creators can cross-promote their streams and increase the 'shareability' aspect of their content in both public and private forums (e.g. a Facebook update or a Whatsapp message) as well as across multiple channels.

In recent months, there has been a seismic shift in the type of content that luxury brands are producing and sharing. Glossy, big-budget videos have been replaced with pared-down at-home tutorials, live Q&As, poetry readings and intimate live performances. This new wave of live content has been successful in engaging social media users who have embraced the 'authentic' approach of designers such as Marc Jacobs, Mulberry and Chanel.

Arguably, one of the biggest draws of livestreaming is the ‘anything can happen’ notion that keeps viewers engaged. Instagram Live provides brands with a platform to produce highly engaging content that feels genuine and authentic. The 'we're all in this together' approach adopted by brands during 2020 has helped to enforce positive messaging and allowed creators to form deeper connections with their audiences.

A prime example of a designer doing it right is Brandon Maxwell. The NYC-based designer was no stranger to Instagram Live before the pandemic, due to his regular 'B Spoke' updates. Since March though, Maxwell has been checking in with his followers daily, live and direct from his Manhattan apartment. During his broadcasts, he covers everything from what he's thinking and feeling to help and advice for his followers. Viewers are encouraged to participate by submitting questions for Maxwell to answer. Marc Jacobs has hosted similarly informal streams with fans on his channels too. While this casual form of content creation works well for them, it's fair to say that it isn't suited to everyone in the luxury space.

Escapist content has also proven popular amongst luxury brands. In addition to the likes of Rihanna's Fenty Social Club, cashmere designer Madeleine Thompson partnered with DJ Henri to host a special live set. Instead of pushing products directly, Henri wore one of the brand's iconic rainbow knits. The use of subtle product placement in live videos is a technique that many brands have embraced during this period, mainly because it feels more natural to audiences.

Loewe took livestreaming even further and curated a special live series for its followers. As part of 'Loewe En Casa', the brand's Creative Director Jonathan Anderson hosted a series of online events and workshops via Instagram Live. Through this art and crafts-focused initiative, Loewe hoped to connect and engage its followers while they spent time at home. Guests included Spanish artist Gloria Garcia Lorca, U.S. soccer player - and star of Loewe’s FW20 campaign - Megan Rapinoe, and Irish-born ceramic sculptor Sara Flynn.

Like many luxury brands looking to showcase their new collections digitally, Gucci livestreamed a 12 hour-long digital fashion show. Alessandro Michele's Epilogue was broadcast on several digital platforms worldwide, including, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Weibo, Facebook and the Gucci App.

It's clear that brands who are able to create authentic bonds with audiences through live content will be the ones who are able to continue to forge meaningful relationships with their followers beyond the pandemic. While now is the perfect opportunity for brands to experiment with their content output, the direct sales impact of livestreams is currently hard to quantify, but we're enjoying the videos they're producing nonetheless and look forward to seeing how they monetise this tool moving forward.

Words by Dan Flay


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