Valentina Ignatova is a co-founder and CMO of Endeavor’s network member BY FAR – a global brand for premium leather shoes and bags. In this difficult time for many businesses, Valentina shared with us the effect the current crisis has on BY FAR and the industry as a whole.
How is the fashion industry affected by the current crisis?
Currently, more and more people are staying at home for a longer period of time and as we all know – physical retail is greatly affected. Physical points of sale are not just places where the customer is buying the product, but they are a way for consumers to engage with the brands and products. Going to a retail store is an experience that includes more senses – you can touch the product, you can feel the ambience, and you can engage with the salesperson in a conversation. Right now, this point of engagement, in addition to participating in various physical pop-up stores and events, is not possible due to many countries’ restrictions in regards to containing the virus. Therefore, brands need to ensure that they stay close to the consumer through digital channels and that means more than just maintaining their online stores.
How does BY FAR engage with its customer base currently?
We have always put the relationship with our customers first in our priorities– we strive to be close to them and always in a dialogue. This is visible throughout our history on Instagram, where we already have 300+k organic followers – we daily re-share feeds and stories of how our clients interact with BY FAR’s products. These are real people in real situations. This approached has not changed. We are limited though in meeting our clients in person now. What our team has done since the beginning of March is, we expanded the ways in which we digitally engage with our customers. This is a difficult time that we try to manage respectfully – many people are anxious, worried or affected by the coronavirus personally. We take this into account and acknowledge it and we have a real conversation with our followers on this difficult time. At the same time, BY FAR tries to respectfully bring positivity into this negative reality. We share more personal things about the brand, the co-founders, our daily thoughts, feelings and lives. We share the experience of creating art together – last week we shared black and white images with our products, asking our followers to get creative and color the pictures any way they would like. Our team is super happy how many clients have reached out with so many creative takes on the image. It is little things like that which are important for brands to stay close to their customer base.
What do you think the fashion world would look like after the crisis is over?
Everyone will be super excited to be alive and engaged with the outside world again. I believe more and more people will not take anything for granted and will exploit life’s possibilities with a renewed sense of joy and optimism. Everyone will be excited to go to restaurants, to celebrate, to have a cocktail, to put on make-up and a dress. Everyone will celebrate self-care and will try to treat themselves by going out with friends and engaging with the outside world. I believe people will live life to its full potential and will be excited about engaging again with brands and interesting products that make them feel unique. The trend that is now with the focus on “me” will continue. It means the consumer is the center of her universe and interprets how to use products according to her views. It is not big fashion houses dictating trends anymore, it is about how people relate to products.
What is ahead for BY FAR?
We want to focus more on the Asia-Pacific market as we see constantly increasing engagements from customers there. In addition, we will be adding more categories in the product portfolio – we are keeping what exactly as a surprise. Also, the team believes in expanding the experience around the brand, so engagements with customers and followers will get more and more interesting. We see now that adaptability is crucial for survival and success and we intend to keep that pulse in the BY FAR veins. The team is always super aware on what is going on around us – both the positive and the negative and we adjust accordingly. I am excited about the future and I really hope this difficult time for all people and businesses passes soon.