March 11, 2016

Why Diesel’s Creative Director says don’t think about Marketing

Fashion supremo Nicola Formichetti has some unusual advice for businesses about marketing. Asked for his top tip, he said “to not think about marketing”.

Fashion supremo Nicola Formichetti has some unusual advice for businesses about marketing.

Asked for his top tip, he said “to not think about marketing”.

“You just have to be strong and say what you feel,” the creative director of Diesel told the audience at a marketing breakfast, one of a series of business events supported by NAB as part of the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival.

“You’ve got to create an incredible brand and have a voice – that’s it,” he says. “Try not to analyse too much – compromise is the start of something mediocre.”

Formichetti is perhaps best known as the designer of the dress made of raw beef – the famous “meat dress” – which singer Lady Gaga wore to the MTV Video Music Awards in 2010, but his success as a marketer is beyond doubt, even if his methods are unconventional.

From 2010-2013 he oversaw the revitalisation of French fashion house Mugler, before joining Italian label Diesel.

Influential style site Fashionista credits him with helping revamp the Mugler brand.

“His impact on the house can’t be denied–mainly in terms of exposure–from collaborating with a couple of the most famous people in the world (Lady Gaga and, most recently, Kim Kardashian), to making Mugler one of the most prolific fashion houses on social media via Twitter, Tumblr, livestreaming,” Fashionsta wrote.

At Mugler he was an early adopter of digital media.

Fashion shows had previously been exclusive events, open only to a select few. Formichetti used digital to change all that in 2011.

“What I did was I opened the door to everyone. We had cameras backstage, on the stage, Twitter live everything – I just opened the entire thing,” he says. “I gave everyone around the world a front row seat, so you could just go backstage or the front live.”

Formichetti says a fashion show needs to be about more than clothes on the runway.

“It should almost be a spectacle, a musical, a concert, it should be an experiential event so that people are not just looking at girls going up and down, maybe there’s a musician there, maybe there’s a movie going on and I think that’s great,” he says. “Fashion is just clothes. You need to build the image around it to make it special.”

In 2013 he joined Diesel, which Formichetti says had been the “coolest brand on the planet” in the 1990s before it lost its way. The Japanese-born creative director has pushed digital to the limits while at Diesel, even going so far as to advertise the brand on adult websites.

He has been credited with helping the brand reconnect with “millennial” consumers but despite his success using social media and digital, he is also wary of its power.

There is the temptation, for instance, to be influenced by the number of “likes” a post might attract on Instagram. He notes that when he is casting models for shoots, many now also supply their Twitter follower numbers. Formichetti says people should go with their gut instinct instead of relying on what happens on social media.

The important thing is to think about what you really want to say rather than chasing followers, he says. “You need to be strong, you need to have your own voice,” he says.

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