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Louise Dirks

Shopping Network Pixlee turns social media trends into online catalogs. WORD OF MOUTH is a powerful marketing tool that, thanks to the power of social media, has become exponentially stronger. For starters, the definition of closeness, according to a recent Forbes article, has dramatically expanded as social media allows consumers to instantly find and follow others who share similar tastes and preferences—even if they’d never met or ever will. Word of a hot new shoe or brand, for example, can spread like wildfire among “friends” around the world in minutes as opposed to months. However, culling, editing and using

Kenneth Cole’s #KCStyle gallery, featured on its homepage.

social media–driven word of mouth (i.e. user-generated content) to one’s advantage can be a daunting task for even the most savvy of retailers. For example, Instagram has more than 400 million daily users worldwide uploading a mind-boggling 58 million photos a day. How does one make sense of it all and, more specifically, garner photo rights and help turn what’s trending into potential sales? Enter Pixlee and its Shoppable Galleries. After collecting content through what Pixlee CEO Kyle Wong calls “the general conversation” on social media, the company creates galleries that retailers can use on their

websites, mobile apps or for in-store demos. “We manage the collection and permission rights and distribute the content across digital properties, and we also provide insight on who your most passionate customers are,” Wong explains, noting that the content is easily uploaded and automatically links to individual shopping pages. “It allows marketing managers to update regularly and reflect timely events without a web developer,” Wong says. “For example, if it’s cold and rainy in San Francisco, a retailer could emphasize rain boots on their site.” Heavy hitters like Ugg and Converse are current Pixlee clients, and Wong says wholesalers and retailers of any size can take advantage of its services. Pixlee offers a subscription-based, pay-as-you-go pricing structure that increases with the scope. Posting galleries only on a website is less expensive than also on an email app, mobile platform, etc. Wong says the cost of content packages begins “in the five figures” which, he adds, is more than worth it. “Pixlee customers are seeing triple-digit ROI from their investments,” he maintains. One of the reasons for Pixlee’s strong returns, Wong says, is due to the fact that consumers are doing more research than ever when making shoe purchases. Specifically, the ability to research on social media enables shoppers to see how others are wearing a particular style. It’s a great insight and validation tool. And Pixlee’s data reveals that 40 percent of e-commerce sales interact with usergenerated content. Of that group, 50 percent are more likely to buy. “There’s a higher average selling price with regards to shoes, so there’s a longer consideration phase by shoppers,” Wong explains. “Advocacy and wordof-mouth marketing are fundamental, and our customer-generated stories are one of the best ways to articulate the value of a brand.” —Ann Loynd

66 footwearplusmagazine.com • january 2016


IN 1990, GRAVITYPOPE founder and buyer Louise Dirks opened her first footwear boutique in Edmonton, Alberta. Flash forward 25 years and Dirks is the owner of six shoe/ apparel stores across Canada and a booming website, gravitypope.com. Delivering worldwide, the site boasts an enormous span of product equaling thousands of SKUs for women, men and children. “Because we have entire sport and comfort collections, we cater to young and old alike,” notes Dirks. By focusing on unique, high-quality brands, Gravitypope manages to set itself apart from the crowd of massive online retailers. It’s a finely curated mix of modern lifestyle—spanning sporty and comfort staples from the likes of Adidas, Birkenstock, Converse, Clarks, Vans and Ugg alongside edgier brands like Common Projects, Punto Pigro and Isabel Marant, to cite a few. Above all, Dirks looks for pieces with longevity: “We should all be paying attention to the fact that this world is full of disposable product, and that’s not great for the environment or for us,” she says. —A.L. What key trends/silhouettes are you seeing for Fall ’16? A giant trend would be the category of sneakers. There’s a ton of variety, and all designers seem to be jumping on the bandwagon, whether it’s a slip-on version like Vans or a lace-up that’s a form of the Common Projects sneaker. The other trend that has a lot of legs is ankle boots, gusseted styles in particular. Another trend I see happening again is the Paraboot (think classic alpine hiker look), which was big in the ’90s. This season Church’s did a beautiful version—we sold out! Any trends on the way out? We’re still not really seeing sales in knee-high boots. There are little pockets where we still sell them, but it’s not half as trendy as sneakers or low ankle boots. We still carry some by Fiorentini + Baker and Trippen, but we haven’t sold them as easily as in past seasons. But I guess I never want to see anything go out…That’s when I start wearing a style, personally— when it’s out of popularity. What’s your buying philosophy? I like to buy based on quality and styling. I’m not really a trend buyer; I prefer to buy product that is more unique and well made, or handcrafted. Unfortunately we live in a world where people want trends and follow them intensively, but I try to buy them in a more unique way—never a super labeled or logoed product. I try to be true to my own philosophy of fashion: You don’t need to throw it away after a season. My buying philosophy is longevity. I like to buy things that customers will wear and appreciate for many seasons because of the design and quality. For me, fashion is about maintaining a closet full of beautifully made pieces that can be worn and valued for many, many years. What are some of your favorite brands/designers? Moma, Officine Creative, Marsèll, Church’s, Trippen, Cydwoq, Bibliotek, Tracey Neuls, Coclico…My favorite designers are those who handcraft and really think about the design and where it’s made. It’s nice to see people that try to differentiate themselves and stay true to their own vision. I love the approach of an artisan—someone who really pays attention to detail, craftsmanship and creativity.

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Footwear Plus | January 2016  

Haute Hikers: The New Trail Mix | Fall '16 Boots Preview | This Just In: Totally Toronto | Gary Champion Gets Down To Earth

Footwear Plus | January 2016  

Haute Hikers: The New Trail Mix | Fall '16 Boots Preview | This Just In: Totally Toronto | Gary Champion Gets Down To Earth