By: Grace Sarkoyan
Who in the past few years hasn’t been subject to the fervor around podcasts? From mystery and crime podcasts that have swept popular culture like Serial hosted by Sarah Koenig to the more inspirational and researched like On Being with Krista Tippet, Podcasts are all the rage. While almost all podcasts began as a way to start or enhance a conversation around a particular topic, like everything — consumerism and advertising eventually gets involved.
Some of the first brands to dip their toes into the podcast pond were Shopify with their podcast Thank God It’s Monday (TGIM) and ZipRecruiter with their podcast Rise and Grind with Daymond John of Sharktank. These podcasts differentiated themselves to provide sage advice to business professionals and entrepreneurs– a next level from the story or information themed podcasts that began the genre.
Now, it seems to be relevant in the age of social media and informational content, other brands are getting into the Podcast came as yet another way of reaching audiences and influencing brand knowledge and loyalty. The latest players in the podcast game are fashion houses. One might wonder, however, as fashion is such a visual and tactile subject– how can a podcast produced by fashion houses such as Gucci and Chanel be relevant in any way? Again, the player in the podcast game is the one changing the rules.
High profile fashion houses are launching Podcasts to reach, inform, and inspire their consumers and fans by giving them an authentic glimpse behind the scenes. They’re building their brands by not only allowing their listeners to understand how elements like construction, textile choice, and seasonal themes are chosen but also by linking their brands with other social elements such as creativity, opera, poetry, and film.
Podcasts are a digital audio file made available on the Internet or smartphone apps (like Spotify) for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series. New installments can received by subscribers automatically or chosen at random to listen to at will. The term podcast is a melding of two words: iPod + Broadcast = Podcast. This terminology was first used and coined by Ben Hammersley in a 2004 Guardian newspaper article. Thus, the term was born.
Podcasts are increasing in popularity for a multitude of reasons. From screen exhaustion to low production value, ease of mobility, user choice, and internet/ bluetooth connected vehicles, podcasts provide a new way to gain information and information. No matter if you’re a busy listener on the go or using podcasts to wind down, a podcast is user centered and flexible for the unique needs of the 21st century consumer.
Researchers estimate that there are over 600,000 podcasts available right now, and over 28 million episodes available. So, with these numbers, why has fashion been so late to the podcast game? To begin with, most listeners of podcast, in their earliest years, were men. Simply put, they were mainly targeted for a male audience. However, women started to pick up on the popularity of the podcast, and women’s listenership has increased dramatically in the past few years. Today, 55% of podcast listeners are men and 45% are women.
Now that women are such a huge swath of the podcast listenership, the time was right for fashion houses to launch their content. Today, fashion houses like Gucci, Chanel, Vogue, and Barney’s New York are publishing podcasts and getting increased listenership. The most popular fashion house podcasts are Gucci, Chanel (called “3.55”), Maison Margiela, & Vogue. As unique as their clothing and accessories lines, each podcast has its own individual tone.
The Gucci podcast focuses on interviews and conversations with guests loyal to their brand such as Florence Welch and Sir Elton John. These conversations cover the guests’ upcoming events and new projects. Gucci also discusses their own brand campaigns like Gucci Bloom and Gucci Gardens as well as behind the scenes information such as fashion shows. They also talk to other designers and upcoming films.
The Chanel podcast is slightly different. They base their “3:55” podcast on the general theme of creativity and takes their viewers behind the sense to how they create their handbags, shoes, cloths in Karl Lagerfeld’s studio. They also explore other creative endeavors such as literature, music, and film making. For example, in one podcast episode, the interviewer and her interviewee explore an opera house. This episode features special guest Keira Knightley to discuss her own personal style (as it relates to Chanel of course!), her upcoming projects, and her views and background regarding creativity.
The Vogue podcast, on the other hand, is much more social in nature. Their podcast focuses in on similar topics that one would typically see in their large magazine. Because they write about elements such as the British royals, high fashion and fashion trends, beauty regimens and brands, high society events, celebrities, red carpet events, and the like, the podcast has the tone of a Vogue issue in audio coverage.
Fashion podcast are certainly not among the most popular in this ever expanding market, but they are gaining traction as can be seen on Gucci, Chanel, Vogue, etc. social media accounts. Regardless, the trend to put out free and engaging content to potential buyers via online media reigns supreme in our technology fueled market. The podcast is just the latest “accessory” important to modern branding relevancy. And who does accessories better than the fashion industry?