Why do fashion brands make films?

How films are the future of fashion branding

When you’re shopping for clothes, what do you ask?

Normally it’s three things: How will this look? How will others see me? And, can I afford it?

But really, it’s about one thing. Who will these clothes make me be? Nothing defines our identity, or at least, the immediate perception of it, as much as our clothes. And so when we’re shopping, we’re never just buying threads sewn into the shape of a t-shirt, we’re buying the idea of what that t-shirt stands for. Laid-back, surfer, hipster, funny, uncaring, cool, rich, practical, elegant, normal.

Fashion brands create and sell ideas which matter more to us more than most other things because they’re about our own identity.

It’s for this reason that they’ve become the pioneers of storytelling. To survive, they have to re-tell and re-make the same idea in different ways. You’ll see Fashion is always the first to adopt new means of communicating and to push the boundaries further than others. Michael Kors, a fashion designer, was one of the first to share design concepts on Pinterest; Chanel turned fashion shows into theatrical performances by creating its own supermarket; and Yves Saint Laurent gave the go ahead for its own biopic.

When it comes to telling a story, fashion brands are always at the front. As I wrote for The Huffington Post, fashion films are becoming increasingly popular. I don’t mean the Yves Saint Laurent type, which is more about the history and context to an otherwise inherently unstable and crazy fashion career, but rather the abstract film type, art.

As musicians make videos to add visuals to their sound, so do fashion designers now make films to give context to their clothes. Karl Lagerfeld said his best ideas came from dreams, but to make them is often not enough.

Fashion is dangerous, ephemeral and unfair — Karl Lagerfeld

Clothing needs to be framed within a story, history, fantasy. Over the years, FullScream, a creative agency in London and Milan I work with has seen how designers are increasingly using films to frame their collections. Less so in the eye-rolling way of a girl stroking a perfume bottle as Dazed pointed out, but more in a way for viewers to self-identify with the brand through emotion. We made the following video for Dolce&Gabbana which personifies their new sunglasses collection, Flowers:


It’s a video which shows how the story itself shapes the product. How it is made, how it is alive.

Here are some other examples of fashion films made for brands which don’t involve motion graphics. Karl Lagerfeld directed his own for Chanel, The Tale of a Fairy:


L’Hotel Dystopie was made for Vivienne Westwood:


And Persona was shot for 25 Magazine, a fashion title in New York:


Tom Church is a Director of FullScream, a creative design agency in Milan and London specialising in fashion films and motion graphics. You can follow him on Twitter @tomchurch.