Halston x Netflix: The power of hype and timing
Have you noticed how media companies are rolling out physical product collections to springboard off the hype of a new show and its engaged audience?
This trend is called linear commerce, and it's on the rise. Using this approach, brands focus on creating an audience first and leverage the hype to sell a physical product later.
Content creation: The road to linear commerce
Netflix is now leaning into linear commerce by launching an online shop where fans can find apparel and lifestyle products tied to their favorite shows and brands.
The Netflix Shop debuted streetwear and action figures based on the anime series Yasuke and Eden as well as limited-edition apparel and items inspired by the action-packed show Lupin in collaboration with the Musée du Louvre. According to Web Smith, Founder of 2PM, this move toward linear commerce has "Disney-like implications."
There's no question that original content is slowly taking precedence over traditional paid ads as a non-intrusive way of marketing.
Another great example is how Nike's Jordan revenue soared 15% to $3.6 billion last year, which coincided with the airing of the ESPN x Netflix's documentary, The Last Dance, which spotlights Michael Jordan's career.
The latest Netflix partnership with the luxury brand Halston is just another benchmark for harnessing hype from a show and building an army of raving fans eager to buy exclusive products.
Halston's Chief Creative Officer, Robert Rodriguez, brings back the 70s with a ten-piece capsule collection Halston x Netflix. The collaboration is inspired by the Netflix biopic Halston, which premiered on May 14, and was inspired by the legendary fashion designer Roy Halston Frowick. The show follows the life of Halston as he builds his brand into a renowned fashion empire.
Behind the scenes of Halston
One of the most prominent names in American fashion, Roy Halston Frowick, created the Halston label in the 1960s. His groundbreaking designs still influence and inspire many designers today. "Roy Halston Frowick single-handedly created luxury American fashion," says Robert Rodriguez, the Chief Creative Officer of Halston.
Halston was known for the usage of his signature materials—jersey, cashmere, and ultrasuede. However, thanks to his distinctive taste and talent, Halston left a permanent mark on fashion with innovation in millinery and reinventing the jumpsuit, the shirtdress, and the classic caftan.
For this era-defining designer, it was all about buzz. His famous friends and clients like Andy Warhol, Bianca Jagger, Elizabeth Taylor, and Anjelica Huston made the Halston brand one of the hottest fashion labels back in the day.
Netflix’s first luxury fashion collection
The world of fashion is nothing new to Netflix. In 2019, it partnered with H&M to launch a capsule collection featuring a Stranger Things-inspired range of clothing, swimwear, and accessories. Fans of the show could buy replicas of pieces worn in the show before the highly anticipated third season.
With the Halston collection, Netflix is setting foot in high fashion for the first time.
"I know that Netflix had done a capsule collection in collaboration with Stranger Things and H&M, but to my understanding, it was more inspired by the overall vibe of the show. With the Halston x Netflix limited edition collection, we looked at specific iconic styles featured within the series and translated them for the modern-day customer," said Robert Rodriguez. "We wanted to target a designer customer and opted to use elevated fabrics and fabrications such as batik printed silk chiffon and lurex silk chiffon. We wanted this capsule to embody the luxe, sexy glamour of the 1970s and 80s.”
This is also the first time Netflix has actively been involved in the design process, meaning this is yet another move that makes Netflix much more than a streaming company. It’s slowly becoming a trendsetter in different spaces; high-fashion may be next.
Leveraging hype to boost interest
Timing is everything for partnerships that ride the hype wave a show creates. That's why nailing the right timing was crucial for the Halston x Netflix eveningwear collection.
"We started working with Netflix on the idea in February and wanted to time the launch of the capsule collection around the same time as the series debut in order to capitalize on the buzz created by the series," said Rodriguez.
But they faced a challenge. Creating a collection of this type takes time, especially during a pandemic and with global supply chain issues.
"The entire process, from concept to design, making of the samples, shooting the campaign, and launching it online happened in less than four months, which in the fashion industry and the midst of COVID is quite quick. If we waited till production was ready, the collection wouldn't launch until August, so we decided pre-order was the best alternative," said Rodriguez.
It is a win-win partnership with a simple end goal in mind: Netflix wants to boost the popularity of the limited series while Halston leans back into the spotlight once again.
"TV shows have such a huge influence on fashion, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to collaborate with Netflix and offer the customer iconic Halston in a fresh new way," said Rodriguez. “TV shows have such a huge influence on fashion, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to collaborate with Netflix and offer the customer iconic Halston in a fresh, new way.”
The results so far are jaw-dropping: Sales are up 631% YoY, and traffic to Halston.com is up 3,200%, the majority of which are from organic search.
From show to capsule collection
Halston x Netflix is a ten-piece evening wear collection, a tribute to the renowned designer Roy Halston Frowick.
Rodriguez reinterpreted and modernized key dresses featured in the show, originally designed by Jeriana San Juan.
"I had a phone conversation with Jeriana San Juan—the costume designer for the series—about Halston and how he had inspired us in so many ways throughout our careers, from the simplicity of his iconic caftans to the iconic jersey disco-inspired sheer dresses," said Rodriguez.
Netflix sent him a deck featuring the costumes used in the series. He chose ten dresses that inspired him and started brainstorming.
"I wanted to recreate a collection that felt iconic to Halston but in a modern way," said Rodriguez. "Halston has always had a tremendous influence on my career, in an industry where his imprint remains decades later. I am grateful to be part of this homage to Halston, who has inspired designers throughout the world."
The power of Netflix and authentic content
So, why are Netflix and Halston so confident about this capsule collection, even though it's on the pricier side?
It's a two-part equation for success:
1) The iconic designer, and,
2) Netflix's proven track record of producing viral, binge-worthy content.
Plus, as of the first quarter of 2021, Netflix had almost 208 million paid subscribers worldwide. So it's safe to say the media company has a significant cultural impact. Pair it with a global fashion brand, and this collection is bound to be a knockout victory.
The release of Netflix's period drama Bridgerton had a significant impact on searches for corsets (+123%), pearl and feather headbands (+49%), long gloves (+23%), and empire line dresses (+93%).
The same happened when the DTC brand Rowing Blazers made the most out of the hype around The Crown—a Netflix-original drama that follows the life of Queen Elizabeth II. So how did they do it? They launched the original black sheep jumper by Warm & Wonderful.
While this piece has been replicated many times since Princess Diana wore it at a series of polo matches during the 1980s, the Rowing Blazers release is the first official collaboration with the original designers, Joanna Osborne and Sally Muir.
The takeaway: Netflix, the disruptor of content consumption, has now disrupted the world of fashion. So it will be interesting to see the buzz around this collection of evening gowns and who's buying them.
The future of commerce: deliver value, then sell
The world of commerce is changing. Traditional paid advertising alone isn't quite cutting it anymore.
Consumers are hungry for authentic content. They want to feel empowered in their choices of what to watch, consume, and buy. The good news is that customer-centric brands have finally woken up to this new reality, and they've adjusted their strategies accordingly. The key to success lies in the reversed commerce cycle: Start with delivering value and building loyalty, and then sell a product that lives up to the expectations.
But no matter how commerce evolves in the future, one thing is for sure: Authenticity and originality will always be the way to go.