British luxury fashion designer Phoebe Philo OBE, debuted her long-anticipated eponymous label to critical acclaim at the end of October. Despite the eye-watering price tags, the small range of clothing, accessories, jewellery and footwear – only available on the Phoebe Philo website – virtually sold out within hours.
But Philo is no stranger to fashion frenzies. Her 2005 Paddington bag, created during her tenure as creative director at French designer Chloé, became an instant and enduring “It bag” that sold out before it even hit the shelves.
Having stepped out of the fashion limelight in 2017, Philo has spent the past two years building anticipation for her return, initially teasing her hordes of loyal fashion fans – known as “Philophiles” – by announcing as long ago as 2021 that she was working on her own brand launch.
In June 2023 a post on her Instagram account stated the “inaugural collection will be revealed and available in September 2023”. Registration opened in July, but the launch was delayed until October 30, so the first that most people saw of the collection was when it went live on her website.
In today’s era of 24-7 social media content, old marques are revived and new fashion brands are launched supported by expensive marketing campaigns. These leverage the celebrity power of influencers and brand ambassadors, social media posts, advertising and editorial photo shoots, runway shows and red carpet appearances.
In the absence of this kind of 360-degree marketing, and in the fickle and fast-moving world of fashion, how did Philo manage to maintain her profile during her hiatus and then virtually sell out within hours of her new brand launch? Not to mention ensuring that social media and the world’s fashion press are all abuzz with talk of her return?