COVID-19 & Fashion: How Can Brands Leverage Consumer Creativity?

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Staying in is the new going out... Even in confinement, customers haven’t lost their flair for fashion.

Over the past few years, #ootd became the most popular hashtag to share fashion outfits and style conversations. Much to our surprise, “outfit of the day” mentions remain constant as users continue to be creative with their daily style choices.

While your catwalk audience is limited to confinement friends and family, Instagram remains the most accessible avenue to share new and creative outfit combos, colors and layers. And confinement appears to have given birth to new #ootds hashtags, such as #WFHfashion, #Quarantinewithstyle, or #Safeandstylish. Many of us by now have discovered the silver lining to staying at home. The opportunity to pursue neglected hobbies, valuable family time, and for some the chance to unleash suppressed creativity through fashion-related content. Fashion hashtags are blooming on the social web, revealing that even in confinement, consumption still matters and that the fashion industry has the potential to survive fashion week cancelations and store closures.

But amplified creativity aside, we’ve noticed that fashion brands struggle to find appropriate crisis communication to enrich the digital conversation with loyal followers and potential consumers. Why not explore the creative and powerful voice of digital fashion lovers? It’s a great opportunity for fashion brands to capitalize on user creativity during this period of uncertainty. 

Don’t activate as you usually would

There will be a before, and after Coronavirus...” but the space in between will be the most challenging. During this tragic period, brands need to appear more relevant than ever, at a sensitive tone and pace as consumers are living a new reality, with a new set of priorities. As a matter of fact, they are actually asking brands to stop spam. An overload of negative sentiment toward brand crisis communication emails is already striking brand-related conversations, mostly on Twitter...

Users are tired of crisis communication constantly flooding their inboxes and it’s impacting fashion brand equity and reputation. It’s also particularly dangerous when associated with highly sensitive topics such as data protection, non-personalization and the aggressiveness of online-targeting strategies.

After the cancelation of upcoming fashion weeks in Paris and Milan, and considering how mass emailing is no longer an option, fashion brands are urged to find new creative ways to engage with their audience and “sanitize” antique marketing practices. To keep your brand up-to-date with users' aspirations, use fashion lovers’ creativity as an unmissable opportunity.

Listen to users’ creativity

Boredom can, in fact, induce creativity. The confinement period has given us time to think, to experiment, to dare to wear what daily routine doesn't allow. Fashion lovers have the chance to be their own stylists and are happy to share their creative combinations in return for likes and digital compliments.

Circumstantial accessories are particularly trendy right now and are subject to customization and appropriation. Every day users create and share their own #diy fashion masks. These custom made accessories unleash creativity and appropriation of popular brand visual codes. Publications mentioning instagrammable #fashionmasks have risen in volume by 600% compared to the previous months. Following the DIY trend (Do It Yourself), the hashtag #handmademask has also considerably grown (+425%) in the same period. The #diymask, originally intended for face care and beauty tutorials, is definitely moving into the fashion sphere.

From a temporary family activity to inspirational pictures for professionals, the homemade mask is undoubtedly the quarantine star in the world of fashion. On Instagram, this variety of custom pieces composed an inspiring and unique digital mood board.


It might not save you from contamination but the homemade mask is the main fashion symbol of this confinement period and shows willingness to combine creativity with the fashion and digital sphere. 

Encourage user creativity to strengthen your brand DNA

To stay connected with customers, even in periods of confinement, brands have to find innovative ways to include their audience in the content creation process. Leveraging user generated content is a great way for brands to remain relevant and engaging.

French creator Simon Porte Jacquemus has been one of the first fashion brands to communicate differently from this perspective. With the hashtag #Jacquemusathome, the designer successfully capitalized on the creativity of his community. Starting with a Jacquemus product, the idea was to recreate the shape of a human face mixing everyday objects. The picture of the final result would be shared by customers on their social platforms with #Jacquemusathome. The creator reposted his favorites on the official account.

It proved to be a fun way to step inside a consumer home. Jacquemus managed to strengthen their brand DNA and strong colorful code by invading personal spaces. Mentioned more than 450 times within a week of its launch, this tag generates visibility and differentiation for the young French label.


Another good example of a consumer-centric strategy is Danish brand Ganni. It encouraged fans to share pictures (collages, drawings, paintings and photography) that creatively define their representation of home. Shared with hashtag #GanniWFH, this digital contest already has over a hundred participants. The most creative ones will be rewarded with a gift card and ceremony when Europe finally recovers from the pandemic.


Nike may be the most inspiring brand when it comes to marketing and communication, and they haven’t disappointed their fans during these unprecedented times. With its “You can’t stop us” campaign, the Swoosh brand invited consumers to practice sport at home, and share it with their teammates - the online Nike community.

The initiative transforms users into creative producers. Thanks to a powerful use of hashtags #playinside and #playfortheworld it gained thousands of mentions and reposts in just a few days. Through customer centric communication, the brand encourages consumers to workout at home, not only driving engagement with their product but, crucially, encouraging users to follow the official advice to stay at home.


In contradiction to Virgil Abloh, sportswear and streetwear aren’t running out of steam. Social posts today tell us they’re perhaps more relevant now than before. Customers are rediscovering comfortable and informal clothing at home whether it's for work or working out.

Consumer centricity for the win

The examples above show us the many innovative ways to communicate during a crisis. The old school top-down approach is becoming even more irrelevant. On the contrary, the crisis might be the right opportunity to go back to the core of your business: people who buy and wear your clothes. Even in confinement it’s clear fashion is still top of mind for many. Looks are changing and they’re still worth the share on social media. Engaging your customers through creative participation is a great action to take during lockdown.

Communication opportunities (without endangering the relationship with your customers) shouldn’t involve pushing your own agenda. Let the actions of your consumers, the way they behave and interact with your products, and the communities they belong to take the lead. A considerate participation in the confinement conversation will turn your consumers into major contributors to your marketing strategy and your product innovation process.


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