The Top Eleven Fashion Innovators Online


The fashion industry, once loathe to embrace the web, is now clearly fixated upon it. Imran Amed, editor of The Business of Fashion, voiced surprise at how quickly the industry has changed its tone, writing, “in April 2007…CEOs, Creative Directors and Managing Directors insisted to me that they would never use such tools as Facebook to engage their fans and customers. How things have changed in three short years!”

While some brands are excelling in their web efforts, with easy-to-navigate web sites, effective digital marketing, and robust social media pages, others are lagging behind — and potentially losing sales because of it.

Chart via L2

L2, a “think tank” launched by an NYU marketing professor, just released its second annual “digital IQ index” ranking luxury brands on a scale of “Genius” to “Feeble” based upon their prowess in the web, mobile, and social media spheres.

Coach, Ralph Lauren, and Louis Vuitton top the list (pictured above), while Manolo Blahnik and Bulova fell to the bottom.

The L2 Digital Index measures success by traffic growth, but unfortunately does not compare online acumen to sales statistics. Direct correlation between the two can be found, though. Reuters reported today that amongst luxury conglomerates, LVMH “beat third-quarter forecasts this month, confirming a strong rebound.” On L2’s scale, LVMH “registered an average Digital IQ 18 points higher than the Index average.”

Statistics show that luxury brands would do well to target younger shoppers through social, web, and mobile outreach. Still, much of what makes social shopping successful makes high-end retailers uncomfortable. In a Wall Street Journal article about sites adding online product reviews, the chief executive of Nicole Miller said that his first response to a negative review of his brand’s dress on was, “Let’s go find and kill that woman.” (He later “had a change of heart.”) New web initiatives are therefore scary to luxury brands not only because they’re unfamiliar ground, but also because they allow for new levels of transparency. Apparently some brands just aren’t ready to hear what their customers are saying.