Italian Footwear Tries On Social Media

The internet has opened up an endless horizon of possibilities for the fashion industry. From the rapidly changing nexus of applications (video blogs, Twitter, online social shopping) to designers and stylists taking their Facebook pages into their own hands (Isaac Mizrahi’s video blogs, Patricia Field’s latest Wireimage photos) and the expanding overlap of fashion and entertainment (Tommy.tv, Ralph Lauren’s iPhone runway application), the web has ushered in new modes of communication and conveyance for the fashionably inclined. Now, the National Association of Italian Footwear is pushing the boundary further, pioneering even newer online territory.

The NAIF is the first fashion trade organization to deploy social media directly to consumers themselves. In February, it launched a unique “Made in Italy” campaign by partnering with groundbreaking social advertising site Zooppa and asking consumers to upload videos about what they think of Italian footwear in competition for cash prizes. Within three weeks, the site saw more than 100 submissions and 100,000 downloads. The winning video was by Alessandro Meucci, an aspiring filmmaker living in Tokyo with his Australian girlfriend who loves her Bruno Magli stilettos.

Will CFDA be next, soliciting feedback directly from the shoppers who consume the actual brands? There’s no telling where this intriguing new trend will show up next, but it’s a compelling model for fashion organizations to highlight their member brands and raise consumer awareness in a changing, and often slippery retail landscape.

—Genevieve Bishop