We never thought that one day we’d be reading about ‘pandemic dressing’ or ‘the latest trends in face masks’ so it’s no surprise that reading about the other changes in the fashion industry, from PR to marketing and e-commerce, has become something we’re accustomed to.

In a post-pandemic world ruled by a digital revolution, technology is getting better and faster at learning online behaviors and the whole industry is, whether we like it or not, adjusting to the new norm. Here, we speak to the industry’s leading fashion PR experts about how the pandemic has affected their strategies and how they’re preparing to introduce new technologies into their marketing workflows and to how they manage consumer expectations.

Founder of Dubai-based Frame Publicity, Rani Ilmi, summarized it all in one expression: “Less physical, more digital, with a human touch.” At Frame, they’ve supported their luxury fashion brands as they pivot to adapt to increasingly capable video technology, to adjust messaging, and to create desirability throughout their customers’ newly digitized decision-making journey. This journey now involves significantly less physical contact and more digital touchpoints, including the surge in new media, such as podcasts, across the Middle East.

Those digital touch points – online experiences such as conference zooms, one on one interviews that are now strikingly face-to-face – have to really stand out to attract a small pool of media and influencers in a competitive space. The key is in exclusivity, high-quality content and guests, and bridging the digital with intelligent physical touches. Ilmi says, “We witnessed the push to #HireArabCreatives for local campaigns – this was incredible to see as a regional first. Sensitivity and emotional intelligence had to now be considered in all regional messaging – as communications professionals, it’s our responsibility to help ‘switched on’ brands respond to be socially aware.”

The right balance

Frame worked on concepts from ‘self-guided facials’ at home, to Instagram Live Q&As to connect with an evolved client base. The company helps brands utilize these opportunities to inspire people, with the hope that customers will remember the brands that brought them together during a confusing time.

When asked about the new approach he’s proposing to fashion houses today, founder of Bureau Des Createurs, Christian Daccache said that, “the pandemic era has forced each and every PR, and agency, to stop, take a step back, and have an in depth look at how everyone has been operating this entire time, in order to find efficiencies in the industry and businesses.” In short, the pandemic has forced the PR industry to create, innovate, and push forward in completely new ways that make much more sense in today’s world.

“Now more than ever, brands need to stand out to make up for what has been lost in visibility, awareness and sales during the pandemic. And so it is our job to craft strategies, specific and personalized ones, to achieve each brands’ ultimate goal, by using the right balance of traditional tools and innovative ones that will help them stand out,” added Daccache.

Firras Alwahabi, founder of Faux Consultancy, admits that their main challenge was navigating this period of uncertainty whilst still ensuring their clients were able to achieve their goals in the region. “I think the early adoption of a strategy that supported fluidity and constant adaptation at the different stages of the pandemic has seen our clients continue to flourish during what’s has been a generally challenging time for our industry globally,” he said.