This article was originally written for, and appeared in, Fashion’s Collective (www.fashionscollective.com)
As with a fashion collection, the formula for creating a successful mobile application strategy is solved through functional aesthetic, with fundamentally strong, simple shapes in clean, neutral colors. These fundamentals are then built upon with vibrancy and complimentary accessories that complete the collection in a manner befitting the artistic vision and that addresses the desires of its aficionados. The signature pieces of any fashion collection are designed with utility and simplicity at the forefront of consideration. The same is true when building a comprehensive mobile plan. There is confident elegance in simplicity, so, when conjuring a vision for the initial phase of mobile application functionality, one should learn from the lessons of your fashion heritage and focus on finding your little black dress. As in fashion, the classics never go out of style.
Mobile solves a unique series of use cases for fashion brands. There are concepts that exist in the mobile medium for which no online equivalents can be found. Mobile is unique as a delivery channel due to its utter lack of regard for time and space. The medium is always on, always readily within reach, and highly personalized. As such, it is paramount to play to the strengths of the channel – with speed, utility, and increased efficiencies in mind – as you begin to design the elemental pieces of the collection.
The core tenets that comprise the foundation of the mobile application plan are content, commerce, and location. Careful stitching of these key elements forms the motif from which all other patterns and accessories will eventually take shape. Content should consist of rich imagery and video, engaging devotees in a visually intoxicating journey into the aesthetic intelligence and lifestyle purveyance of the house. The Dior application for iPhone is a brilliant example of a brand mastering the basics. The application offers insider access to the Spring and Summer 2011 prêt-à-porter line through beautiful runway photography and exclusive archived catwalk content, as well as a house film in support of the brand’s Lady Grey campaign. With the momentum gained from content engagement, Dior tackles the second and third elements of commerce and location through the store locator function. Equipped with GPS-enabled location awareness capabilities based on existing coordinates and a click to call function for the nearest boutique, the brand communicates with followers in a direct and useful manner. Like Dior, Chanel also does an admirable job engrossing their audience through content, with curated brand news and runway video coupled with high-resolution photography showcasing looks from the collection. As with the example of Dior, the boutique locator function is crisp and automated, with support for click to call and integrated Google Maps capability, allowing shoppers to quickly find the closest Chanel boutique.
Constructing the fundamental elements of a fashion collection provides the designer with the framework from which the collection will take life. When crafting a mobile application strategy, strict focus on these central components form the foundation of utility and efficiency, which should always be paramount. The creation of rich applications that showcase the artistic direction of the house and provide deep levels of engagement with devotees has been the primary focus of fashion brands during this infancy stage of mobile market development. However, without a thorough understanding of the unique capabilities of the medium and manner in which it allows shoppers to interact with the brands they most admire, the plan is incomplete. Concentrate on the essentials of the collection first and the rest of the vision will come into focus.