Stars, foam, streams and well-timed drops catapult About You past 1B during Berlin Fashion Week

Celebrity galas, top models, live shopping, "Haul Influencers" and more: How About You turned fashion week into content marketing

The Berlin Fashion Week, Germany’s largest fashion event is, compared to other international fashion events, not all about brands presenting their latest collections—at least it isn’t doesn’t have to be. For fashion retailer About You, BFW has become a content marketing event, which last week generated north of a billion contacts for the Hamburg-based retailer across various media and social channels. Today, we’re taking a closer look at how that mammoth reach came to be and found a strategy spanning celebs, hauls, foam and drops.

Twice every year, Germany’s fashion elite and international fashionistas turn their attention to the Fatherland’s capital, which teems with brands, models and fashion victims fans. For the third year in a row, Hamburg-based online fashion retailer About You has thrown adjacent events during BFW. While this year was no diffferent, it was an unprecedented success that combined live events common-place for the industry, savvy online measures and partnerships for contacts in the 10-figure range. The week kicked off with the About You opening show on September 11. Veteran runway event producer Etienne Russo oversaw the gala, flooding Fabrik Berlin with foam and light and spectacle. The name of the game? Attention, attention, attention. “The opening night show was designed to drum up buzz around the brand for the week. It attracted celebs like Leni Klum, will.i.am, Luka Sabbat, Iblamejordan, Lena Gercke, Loredana and more,” Julian Jansen, Director of Content at About You, tells OMR. “Leni Klum opened the show, international supermodels walked down the runway. We couldn’t have asked for a more bombastic start.” All run-of-the-mill fashion industry stuff: A brand shows off its new collection with big-name models, attendees clap and sip bubbles at the after-party.

What About You then did with that buzz was combine the reach of celebrities with “haul influencers” and live-shopping drops. And it resulted in more than just polite applause and feigned excitement for its latest collection. “We treated Fashion Week as a content hub,” says Jansen. “In each show, there are some 50 outfits on display, each of which we launched half an hour after unveiling in the online shop. We had hoped that it would cause a spike in traffic, but we did not expect our social to blow up.” According to About You, the media coverage alone created 737 million contacts—and that’s not including the reach of each influencer involved or in attendance, or the reach of the company’s own social channels. “Fashion Week turned into our new hero format,” says Jansen.

Reach for the star power

Granted, the heightened media coverage is 100% reliant on famous faces and brands working with About You. Adidas, Jack Jones, Levi’s and others had official events with About You and Leni Klum unveiled her first exclusive collection with About You during fashion week. “Leni Klum is responsible for one-third of our total reach. She pushed the collection on her channels, with her reach, and then her mother (Heidi Klum author’s note) boosted awareness further. We sent a camera team from a German gossip show to follow her around and then there was another camera team there to film a documentary about her. Those were the tricks we employed that were winners in terms of reach and saturation this year,” Jansen tells us. The pieces for the TV show alone are going to have a massive impact as organic spots for About You.

If you haul, you get the call.

Celeb power is fine and well if you got it, but there was plenty of teamwork involved in the success About You had with an army of smaller-scale influencers making meaningful contributions to the billion-plus contacts—mostly via direct sales of those freshly dropped clothes. 70 percent of all attendees to About You’s shows during Fashion Week (there were a total of 13) were so-called “haul influencers,” influencers and bloggers who take to social media and show off what they just purchased or hauled in. “Every month, we work closely with between 1500 and 2000 haul influencers,” Jansen says. “We invited some of these creators to attend and purchased a haul from them. It was a massive performance driver for us.”

For About You, hauls were set up as follows. Creators showed off five outfits that they particularly like in each haul and try them on in a story on Instagram. These videos were pre-produced and, of course, included a specific discount code for followers. Haul influencers have proven especially effective for About You in international markets away from Germany, where they need not know the who’s who of regional influencers with a performance-based campaign. During Fashion Week, this strategy showed that it works on an event basis and can generate sales, in addition to its role as a brand awareness tool.

Hyping up deals on live shopping

The next format About You leaned into for revenue during Fashion Week was live shopping. All week long, About You grabbed some of Germany’s most famous designers, including Lena Meyer-Landrut, Marina Hoermanseder, Bill Kaulitz and Guido Maria Kretschmer for a series of live shopping events on the About You app and mobile website. The designers presented their collections and viewers could buy the outfits and items while they watched (Check out this OMR piece from earlier this year on the live shopping boom).

“Since we use designers’ personal collections, live-shopping formats work for us as well. It’s another effective performance tool we have with which we primarily generate organic traffic,” Jansen tells us. He goes on to say that he is convinced that the format is dependent on putting famous faces who have their own reach in front of the camera. “If Leni Klum is sitting there, presenting her collection, then the format is immediately much more valuable and has much more potential.” Since the first attempts went so well, Jansen says that About You will be going back to the proverbial well again and do so frequently.

Fashion Week figures to become a greater priority for About You in years to come after crushing it this year. “Fashion Week is both a blessing and a curse. We want to be a part of the Fashion Week, but we also want to amplify our presence and have a more international focus than “just” the Berlin Fashion Week,” says Jansen. “As such, we’re already looking at ways to further expand our activities at the next About You Fashion Week, so that we’re more independent and making a splash beyond Berlin’s borders.”

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