After over a year of existing in "Beta" status, MySpace has launched a revamped version of its fashion community, dubbed "MySpace Fashion", to co-inside with start of next week's New York Fashion Week. As with the official MySpace communities for music and film, MySpace Fashion is hoping to build on the grassroots enthusiasm for fashion that already exists on the social networking site, and at the same time help the marketing departments of mainstream media and big brands reach those fashion conscious users.
From Business Week:
The move reflects MySpace's strategy of identifying the communities of interest that have grown organically and the building official member communities around them, turning once-grassroots groups into content platforms for old-media companies and consumer brands. But will the top-down approach work?
However, it's not just old-media and existing fashion designers and brands that stand to benefit from an official section of the site dedicated to the fashion industry. Upcoming or unknown designers also have an opportunity to connect with consumers, on, argugably, a much more level playing field -- in the same was as hard working (and talented) bands have built up a substantial fan base through the site, with some going onto land a recording contract as a result.
"If I were a young and up-and-coming designer, I would totally do MySpace. It's a cost-effective way to gain brand awareness and build an audience," says Patricia Pao of the Pao Principle, a branding and marketing consultancy that advises fashion brands. In other words, MySpace has the potential to possibly do for fledgling, self-promoting clothing designers what it does for ambitious, unsigned musicians—offer them a no-cost Web site with social-networking and video-sharing capabilities.
In addition, MySpace has already been used by designers and fashion houses to scout for modeling talent and "crowd-source for ideas", according to Business Week.Efforts like "MySpace Fashion" further differentiate MySpace from rival Facebook, in terms of the two sites' core competencies and potential for growth. Whilst many of us have applauded Facebook's clean design and focus on communication, it's hard to imagine that the site will eat into MySpace's strong communities around musicians, film makers, and now fashion enthusiasts -- as user profiles and community pages can't be heavily branded or customized, and the fact that all of the content on Facebook resides behind a walled garden, which requires users to be logged-in first. All of this makes it clumsy to use the site as front-facing home on the web.
We're also seeing a trend where MySpace is attempting to mix more and more professionally-produced content -- from big media and major brands -- with user-generated offerings, and at the same time blurring the lines between the two. In doing so, marketers and News Corp. are trying to find out how much professional brands/content and UGC can live alongside and benefit each other.