Athena Von Bourbon has been involved with French luxury fashion brands and products such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, Christian Louboutin, Saint Laurent, Celine, Loewe, Moynat, Givenchy etc. for years.

During the COVID year of 2020, she continued engagement with French fashion brands and has contributed several strategy and insights articles about the luxury fashion industry to the French community. Below is the recap of an interview she has done with the French Chamber –

French Chamber: This week we spoke with the accomplished Athena Von Bourbon, the winner of a MGM Reality Show in Fashion & Founder of House of Athena, her very own Global Luxury/Fashion Agency and Consultancy company.

Keep reading to learn from Athena’s savviness as a Fashion Consultant & Publicist in PR, Branding, Social Media, & Growth Strategy in the fashion sphere, as well as her take on current market trends.

French Chamber: What are the current trends in PR, branding, marketing communications in the fashion world?

Athena: You hear this a lot: “Retail is dead”. Well, retail isn’t and won’t be dead, at least not for those retailers who make themselves up to date. It has just been taken quite a share by the online world. Gen Z does want to go to stores and have real-world experiences with the environment and products if this experience is cool and digital with digital signage and/or combined mobile app experience. The burning question is, can brands transform and adapt to the digital world?

Fashion brands born out of the online world are thriving these days. Even PR is going digital: online press releases and media exposure, relations with online journalists and influencers, social media and paid social campaigns, SEO.

The fashion world is especially lagging behind in the digital arena. A CEO for a well-known NY based celebrity designer I work with told me if their merchandise gets into an online store such as Net-a-Porter, it would be competing with the brand’s sales at retail stores. This thought clearly makes no sense and shows his lack of understanding of online and multichannel sales.

“Most brands haven’t yet achieved digital marketing excellence”, Boston Consulting Group 2018 report “Dressed For Digital: The Next Evolution in Fashion Marketing”.

With solid digital experience from fortunate 500 companies, I can differentiate House of Athena from most traditional fashion consulting firms and agencies by helping fashion companies and brands see a full picture, achieve true digital and cross channel excellence, full potential growth through our expertise in: marketing mix, cross channel, social media, eCommerce, personalization/targeting, and analytics, etc. In addition to our notable fashion industry experience and traditional fashion PR, branding, marketing communications, and creative direction services.

French Chamber: How would you describe doing relations with celebrities and influencers?

Athena: I think it really comes down to have personalized messages and targeted offerings. Do your research and find the celebrity or influencer who is a fit for your brand or product. Then customize your messaging and seek to build a genuine connection with them.

French Chamber: What is the most successful growth strategy (digital and cross-channel) that you have worked with or implemented

Athena: I devise a growth plan with a blend of strategy, creativity, and art, a mind that derives sharp insights like no other. I would say one growth strategy I made interesting was to brand an online personalized drinks company to be a premium lifestyle brand: chic, green, socially conscious with celebrity endorsement, which will also allow the company to charge a higher price for each bottle and increase revenue. The plan is comprehensive with many creative ideas in the hope some will go viral and help the company achieve massive success. It encompasses product design and innovation (from drink flavors to customizable bottle design and packaging), branding, PR, social media marketing, partnership and collaboration, advocate and ambassador, campaign optimization, etc.

Ultimately it is a call to action on whatever helps the company grow or is blocking the company from maximizing its growth. However to make game-changing strategic suggestions requires deep insights into the root cause of the matter. I look at things beyond the surface – call it strategic insight. E.g. It is not uncommon to see a once well-known designer fall out of line. Blaming the high price point of the luxury line unlike the Michael Kors or Coach model and the lack of excitement in the design is just touching the surface. Look deeper, the designer failed to grow and reinvent by time (nothing works forever); can’t keep up with the modern time and its trend. The once genius style is now irrelevant and lost its appeal to the customers. Further, the designer is having lots of personal issues, went to rehab and his long time business partner has departed from the company. When the company is falling apart from within, it is vulnerable and hard to rival the competitors. As a result, the designer has likely also lost his design inspiration. This is when the high price point is even more burdensome and a light luxury model is easier to survive on top of all the issues. Therefore switching to a light luxury line is just a band-aid solution.    

French Chamber: In general, do you see the current most utilized social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. staying around as the market leaders?

Athena: TikTok is on trend and hot right now. So make sure you get on it!