Blogger and model turned fashion mogul Anine Bing was one of the first designers to use social media to directly drive their commercial sales. Five years on, she shares her knowledge of the digital fashion landscape with Bazaar and admits there are still some aspects of her business she will never move online...
What sparked your interest in the fashion industry in the first place?
Well I have been working in the industry for most of my life. Having modelled for years, I was very attentive to how people experienced fashion in their own lives. I could see there was a desire for accessible luxury and to my surprise, that didn’t really exist. I wanted to respond to that with what I saw as functional fashion, a combination of wardrobe staples and luxurious basics.
What were some of the main challenges you faced when creating your brand?
When I first started, I really wanted to create the perfect pair of jeans. I’m such a denim lover myself so it was important to me that I created a fit that worked on everyone. I truly believe that the perfect fit makes all the difference. Creating a jean that was versatile enough for every body type was definitely a challenge, but I couldn’t be happier with the end result. I live in my denim!
Anine in her L.A. offices
Tell us more about your choice to adopt a ‘see now, buy now’ brand model – was it a risk or did you trust your gut instincts?
From looking at my own social media early on, it became very apparent that people no longer wanted to wait to wear something they saw online. After all, we live in a world satisfied by instant gratification, so it felt essential to create a business model that reflected our time and attitude towards shopping. I fully trusted my instinct that the best way to satisfy our customer was through creating season-less collections. By releasing new pieces each week, we are really able to grant each customer with that sort of instant gratification. You can see something on my Instagram on Monday and be wearing it by Friday.
What made you decide to have such a strong online presence when you first started?
In the beginning, I don’t think it was ever a conscious decision to turn my personal social media into what it is today. But as I began posting photos of what I was wearing and my daily outfits, people started responding really well to that. And when I would post a photo of an outfit, it would sell out almost immediately. It was so crazy! From there, it became hard to ignore the influence that social media had on the industry.
What other brands do you think incorporate digital well into their identity?
I think one of the strongest examples of this is Net-A-Porter. They have definitely pioneered the way for so many other brands to enter e-commerce and have done a beautiful job creating an experience for their customers. This is definitely something I hope our customer feels when they shop my clothing. From the moment they enter the site to the moment their new favourite piece arrives, I hope they feel as excited about shopping as I do about designing for them.
The designer displays pieces from her recent collection
What social media platforms do you rate the most for achieving your personal and business goals?
I really love Instagram for so many reasons. It is such an effective way to connect with consumers from around the world. I love seeing how these women take my pieces and make them their own. It’s so inspiring! On a personal level, I feel lucky that I can share my work and life so intimately with followers. It’s so much fun to meet people from around the world that have been with the brand since the beginning. We recently launched a campaign called #AroundTheWorldInANINEBING where we feature real women from around the world to represent each collection. It is my goal to share their stories and call attention to these incredible women.
What are the most important digital tools you use?
Personally, I use Instagram the most to market my brand to consumers. It feels authentic and organic, and I really love that there are no gimmicks. What you see is really what you get. As a company, our e-commerce site is so important to making the brand accessible to everyone. You can shop any look at any time. Who doesn’t love that?
What’s the most underrated social media tool or platform in your opinion?
That’s hard to say because I feel like social media is such a big part of everyone’s lives these days that it certainly doesn’t feel underrated. One specific tool on social media I’m loving right now though is the story feature on Instagram. It’s so great that I can share a link on my story and people can shop the look immediately. That’s really cool and I don’t think many people have realized the potential of that tool yet.
How do you think the digital sphere will impact the industry as a whole in the future, would you ever incorporate the likes of 3D printing or Artificial Intelligence into your brand?
As technology advances, I can only imagine it impacting the fashion industry for the better. Our processing is faster, our work is more precise, our communication is now global. It is so crucial as company that we remain ahead of these trends to ensure we are providing the very best service to our customers. As far as incorporating new technology into the brand, we will do whatever it takes to maintain the quality of our brand. ANINE BING robots? Maybe!
What aspects of your company will you always keep offline?
One aspect of the company I hope to always keep offline is the presence of a physical store. We ship worldwide, which makes the brand accessible to everyone. I love that. But we now also have eight stores worldwide, which is just incredible. I still think there is something so special about feeling the clothes and the magic of trying on the perfect piece for the first time. Not to mention it’s the best form of cardio!