INTERVIEW: Daniel Saynt, Rebecca Minkoff CMO Talks Crowdsourcing, Magazines vs. Bloggers & The GAP Logo Fiasco2.25.11
AT WWDMagic last week in Las Vegas, we chatted up Daniel Saynt, former editor-in-chief of FashionIndie.com and current CMO of Rebecca Minkoff, who was there as part of a Teen Vogue discussion panel on blogger influence. Known for being one of the first “crossover” bloggers who went from the blog-side to the executive side of fashion, he’s engineered social media marketing programs like a Polyvore contest to style the Rebecca Minkoff show at NYFW and using crowdsourcing to actually design a Rebecca Minkoff bag. Because of Daniel, you, too, can design a bag or style a major NYFW fashion show!
Q: Tell me about the Polyvore contest to style looks at the Rebecca Minkoff show. How did that come about?
A: A big part about Rebecca Minkoff and the brand is embracing technology and not just settling for traditional social media like Facebook and Twitter. We’re expanding our horizons and Polyvore was a natural selection for us, so when we were working with them we wanted to do something individual and unique, something that would incorporate their members and showcase how well they style, which is something that they’re doing on Polyvore anyway. We selected our favorite one, the winner had a huge amount of votes from the readers.
Q: How many?
A: Close to 20,000 votes. So we flew them out, they helped style the show, picked out key pieces that we wanted to incorporate – with accessories and jewelry, shoes, etc. – and they put together the looks that we had in the show.
Q: Do you think that this type of crowdsourcing is the future of fashion marketing, and do you think other brands will follow suit?
A: Crowdsourcing’s going to become a major part of what we launch and programs we introduce. I think it is the age of crowdsourcing in fashion with so many people contributing to the fashion conversation, sharing their style, sharing what they’re doing, having blogs and we don’t want to miss that. We want to talk to our consumers and find out what they want, so that we can make the stuff that they actually want to buy.
Q: What do you think about crowdsourcing and the Gap logo fiasco?
A: I think we found out that just because a company has an amazing name and have been in the industry for so long and are established doesn’t mean that just because you pay someone 100K to design something for you doesn’t mean that they’re going to do a good job. I think Gap would have been smart after that happened, if they would’ve announced that they were going to use crowdsourcing for a new logo, instead of changing it, then changing it back.
Q: Tell me about the Dee bag that Rebecca Minkoff did using crowdsourcing.
A: Dee clutch, not Dee bag! (Laughs) We decided against Dee bag.
Q: That begs the question: Why would someone want a bag designed by their neighbor or Starbucks barista rather than a designer? People like to think they’re getting the expertise and artistic vision of real designer, no? Isn’t there a disconnect there?
A: We did it for one specific bag for one specific collection and we had guidelines established that they could work from, The bag doesn’t alienate itself from the collection, it actually fits really nicely into it. If you were to do crowdsourcing freely and without any control, you’re going to have a mess, and the majority of people probably don’t like they things you’d want to present. As long as you have guidelines. You’re leading the customer to what they want based on what you already offer.
Q: What’s next in the democratization of fashion?
A: I think what we’re going to see is these individuals coming from online, bloggers who’ve just started in blogging five years ago, started when they were 17 are building brands for themselves. They’re going to start taking a larger role in overall fashion. You’re going to see them in more executive positions, you’re going to see them in more editorial positions, you’re going to see them become more and more models in the industry. People are going to pursue that [blogging] rather than an editorial position at Vogue. More people are heading out of NYU Journalism School or Parsons are heading out with a blog in hand, then going into something else.
Q: Do you think that this will make big-time editors a little relevant?
A: No, not at all. We’re also seeing great collaborations between Conde Nast, who are saying that we realize the bloggers are there, we’re not ignoring them anymore, we want to embrace them and connect the to what we’re developing. It’s just another form of media. We’re at the point now that magazines are smarter with what’s happening online, in the same way that Teen Vogue is collaborating with bloggers, and Glamour and Lucky. You’re going to see more of that. I don’t think they see them as a threat anymore, they see them as a way to continue communicating about what’s happening in fashion.