FASHION 101: CHARLOTTE HANNAH
AS SEEN ON SCREEN : A VISUAL ESSAY
Creator: a person or thing that creates, an originator.
Celebrity: a person who has a prominent profile and commands a great degree of public fascination and influence in dayto-day media.
Fashion System: A fashion system operates to convert clothing into fashion. A fashion system is institutionally constructed and socially diffused
Technology: Methods and tools that society has developed in order to facilitate a modern lifestyle.
Fast fashion: The rapid global movement of fashion.
Retail Store: An outdated retail concept where the customer travels to the location of the store.
Convenience: Anything that is intended to save resources. This can take the form of time or energy.
Marketplace: An online system allowing for individuality within the online retail space.
Customer base: An invaluable asset to the fashion industry. A solid customer bases results in high sales and increased profits.
Fashion finder: An outlet to express and inspire on a global platform.
Style rookie: A new recruit to the fashion marketplace. A style rookie has a lot to learn.
Style icon: Possess timeless and sophisticated style consequently is a leader within a fashion system
Fashion queen: The leader of the fashion ASOS system; the power to lead and inspire.
AS SEEN ON SCREEN : AN INVESTIGATION
ASOS / THE CREATOR / THE CELEBRITY / THE CUSTOMER
Originally operating under the name AsSeenOnScreen, ASOS is now a global leader in online fashion. ‘With a primarily audience of fashion forward 16-34 year olds, ASOS.com entices over 11 million unique visitors a month and as of 31 December 2010 ASOS had 4.9 million registered users and 2.7 million active customers’. This makes ASOS the largest clothing retailer of its kind. Upon initial observations ASOS can be seen as simply an online store, however this is far from the case. ASOS have evolved into a complex fashion system comprising a series of key ‘actors’ all operating concurrently to make up the ASOS fashion system. THE CREATOR Nick Robertson founded ‘As Seen On Screen’ in the year 2000, with the aim of bringing celebrity style and culture to the mass market. ASOS had a rocky start, with debt of $2.4 million however Robertson’s perseverance paid off when a profit of £339.7 million was generated in the 2012/2011 financial year. Interestingly Robertson himself now reflects the philosophy of the brand as he has now become a celebrity through his ASOS’s suc
cess. This status was recently validated by being listed in the celebrity rich list on therichlist. org and being awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) by the Queen.1 THE CELEBRITY The original concept of ASOS was built in response to a shift in fashion culture where importance upon celebrity fashion grew. Robertson created a commercial space around society’s fascination with the celebrity and the fashion they wear. ASOS provides a one stop shop which allows customers the opportunity to readily access celebrity fashion. Customers can buy up-tothe-minute styles of the kind worn by the likes of Kate Moss, Sienna Miller and Alexa Chung at highstreet prices.2
community facilitated by the online platform ASOS has built. The evolution and rapid spread of technology has greatly influenced ASOS’s success. The increased availability of broadband internet and mobile technology has greatly increased customers access to ASOS allowing them to browse and buy anytime anywhere. This heightened convenience far superior than any traditional store can provide.
Through replicating their celebrity icons customer can validate their fashion choice. THE CUSTOMER ASOS founder Nick Robertson describes the typical ASOS customer as ‘23, better looking than average, with Saturday night as her biggest night of the week’.3 Customers are from a global
Pictured Isabel Lucas for ASOS, viewed 29th May 2012 < http://www.designscene.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Isabel-Lucas-for-Asos-November-2011-DesignSceneNet-04.jpg>
/ THE STORE
The ASOS store comprises of a collection of over 50,000 products showcasing both established and up and coming designers, and ASOS and designer brands. Perhaps a key factor of the success of ASOS is that the website has been designed for maximum useability to allow customers to easily navigate the wide range of garments available. All content has been meticulously ‘tagged’ allowing for easy and accurate searching, far superior than any bricks and mortar store can facilitate. Some commentators believe that the online platform will never replace the store often commenting that a website cannot match the sensory experience a store can provide – Robertson disagrees stating ‘Every month 51% of 16 to 24-year-old girls buy clothes online. Get over the f***ing trying-on thing. Convenience is why people buy on the web’ he continues. ‘Have you tried queuing up in Zara on a Saturday afternoon?’
Picture Shop ASOS Australia , viewed 29th May 2012 < http://www.meldmagazine.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Screen-shot-2011-09-15-at-3.59.03-PM.png>
Furthermore the ASOS website functions much like social networking platforms such as Facebook. This approach ensures that the short attention span of generation Y is maintained through giving them the opportunity to interact and connect within a global community. This is facilitated through the Marketplace and Fashion Finder tools available within the ASOS fashion system.
/ THE MARKETPLACE
The ASOS Marketplace is one of a kind. It provides individuals and stand-alone boutiques a platform to sell second hand, vintage and new clothing. This allows individuals the opportunity to access the ASOS client base and support they receive. It might seem at odds that a retail outlet such as ASOS would allow for competitors to sell in the same space; however a closer investigation reveals that the marketplace is highly beneficial to ASOS. ASOS benefit primarily through the profit generated through the commission (up to 20%). This is a solid return for ASOS as it is pure profit because they do not need to purchase the stock or maintain the store. Furthermore the ASOS Marketplace brings a range of new clients not generally partial to large scale commercial ventures such as ASOS which has the potential to translate into future ASOS sales. ASOS offers two forms of sale avenues, individuals and boutiques. Individuals have the benefit of unlimited free listings and the ability to have promotions for mid and end of year sales. In return, ASOS receives 10% commission plus potentially
increased customer flow due to the traffic the individual may create. This service re-directs seconds clothing destined for eBay, a market or opportunity store and allows individuals to generate a primary or complimentary income. Boutiques have the same benefits as an individual seller, however must pay a $20 per month fee plus ASOS receives 20% commission for every item sold. In return boutique owners receive a customisable storefront, blog, account manager and a directory listing. ASOS customers can also follow boutiques which ensure high customer retention, working in favour of both ASOS and the boutique. The ASOS boutique provides people with the opportunity to begin their retail venture. It has no contracts or large set up fees so it is a highly accessible to the individual. Many emerging designers use this platform to sell and generate publicity for their new label.
to maximise sales. Key guides include photography guide, setting up you business, shipping advice, returns, refunds and cancellations, promotions, payment and promotion. Through fostering these businesses ASOS creates a mutually beneficial relationship as the sellers benefit through the platform, support and notoriety associated with ASOS, while ASOS receives access a wider client market consisting of individuals who would not traditionally shop in the traditional ASOS online store. Essentially the ASOS Marketplace acts in a way which gives back to the fashion community through fostering smaller businesses. Whether Marketplace is a genuine act or not is unable to be determined however it is clear that the Marketplace facilitates a two way relationship which benefits both parties.
The Marketplace enhances the success of the ASOS however ASOS also works to help boutiques and individuals reach their full selling potential. They achieve this through providing a range of guides which help
Pictured Susan Caplan diffusion line for ASOS Marketplace, viewed 29th May 2012 < http://www.susancaplan.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/FINAL-2-WITHOUT-LOGO-JPEG.jpg>
/ FASHION FINDER / FASHION HERO
ASOS Fashion Finder is an interactive online styling network where members can create, share and shop. Fashion Finder is divided in to four categories. These include trends, outfits, looks and shop. Users register to become an active member of the fashion finder community and interact to gain an increased fashion icon status. Participation is rewarded with points which are relative to the strength of the interaction which can include winning styling prizes, editor’s bonus, referring users and voting.
The Fashion Finder system of ASOS includes ‘fashion heroes.’ Fashion heroes gain an elevated status through high activity within the Fashion Finder community. Their heightened status is achieved by fellow members liking their fashion taste which is transferred into Fashion Finder points. These points accumulate to achieve a ranking with only the best receiving celebrity status.
Individuals must sign up to fully uncover the fully workings of Fashion Finder. New members are awarded with the Style Rookie status. Fashion finder members create a fashion wall which showcases the member’s style. Images can be uploaded clothes from home or direct from the ASOS website, providing an alternative sales channel for ASOS. Fashion Finder also allows individuals the option to develop outfits from the ASOS collection. This is an invaluable resource for ASOS as it is essentially a free stylist and market research portal.
ASOS‘s key fashion icon is Ferah. She has created 1740 outfits on her Fashion Finder profile and has attained 46173 likes and 208 looks 4223 likes in her Fashion Finder career. Ferah writes that she has been inspired by the blogging industry however does not consider herself a stylist. Instead Ferah simply enjoys fashion as an outlet from her day job like many blogger. Ferah enjoys being an icon through being able to be creative and supportive amongst the Fashion Finder community.5
Pictured ASOS Fashion Finder looks, viewed 29th May 2012 < http://stylesiren.ie/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/ASOS-Fashion-Finder-looks1.jpg>
The ASOS fashion system is gaining notoriety with these fashion heroes such as Ferah becoming key influences within the wider fashion system. This is exhibited with ASOS icons being initiated into mainstream fashion through invitation to industry events. ASOS benefits highly from the Fashion Finder system. When the style icons creates a look ASOS can link similar products for sale on the page where users can ‘shop’ the look. This process acts as free publicity and styling for ASOS, whilst also enabling them to provide for a wider client base through the diversity the Fashion Finder system caters for.
ASOS / CELEBRITY NFLUENCE / CONCLUSION
INFLUENCE OF THE CELEBRITY DESIGNER
ASOS was founded in response to society’s obsession with celebrities and their culture. Reflected in its original name ‘AsSeenOnScreen’ aspired to deliver celebrity clothing to the masses through an online retail platform. The celebrity is a vital actor in the fashion system and this is further reflected by the labels of ‘Celebrity designers’ ASOS stock. ASOS stocks designer ranges such as Alexander McQueen however further investigation uncovers more celebrity designers such as Award winning fashion designer Yohji-Yamamoto, Karl Lagerfeld and Gewn Stefani. It is interesting that those dressing traditional celebrities have become a celebrity though their fashion designs talents. Perhaps this can be attributed to the red carpet system and the prestige it generates.
ASOS incorporates the celebrity in all its formats. From the creator Nick Robertson who has become a celebrity through his mastermind creation, the celebrity who provides the root source of fashion inspiration for ASOS and the consumer to emulate to the customer who eagerly consumers the celebrity fashion and the customer who suddenly becomes a celebrity through building a following on Fashion Finder. The complex fashion system of ASOS is having a widespread imapact upon the greater fashion ecosystem. Who the designer is? Who is the stylist? Who is teaching who?
Pictured Fashion Icon and celebrity Karl Lagerfeld, viewed 31st May 2012 < http://www.bohomoth.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Karl-Lagerfeld.jpg>