Practically since its inception in the mid-aughts, YouTube has been a hub for fashion and beauty thanks to some of the platform’s best-known creators, from early success stories like makeup artist Michelle Phan and fashion vlogger Bethany Mota, to today’s stars such as the first CoverBoy James Charles and Brazilian actress Flavia Pavanelli. Tutorials, lookbooks and haul videos have influenced the tastes of a generation of influencers, wanna-be influencers and fashion-curious people.
But until now, there hasn’t been a centralized space for fashion and beauty content on YouTube. That’s all changing with the debut of /Fashion, a centralized spot on YouTube for users to find videos from fashion and beauty brands, as well as creators. It arrives at an opportune moment—New York Fashion Week begins on Friday. (It’s also a bright spot amid a difficult time for YouTube, which was recently slapped with a $170 million fine from the FTC for violating child privacy laws and faces criticism over its hate speech policies.)
Users who visit the /Fashion page during Fashion Week will see livestreams of runway shows at the top, with videos from brands, publishers and creators filling in the lower modules. Derek Blasberg, director of beauty and fashion at YouTube, identified three types of potential partners for the channel: fashion and beauty brands, like Louis Vuitton and Michael Kors; professionals, such as models and makeup artists; and publishers, which are more traditional outlets like Vogue or Vanity Fair.
“All that content will exist next to each other,” Blasberg said. “There’s Louis Vuitton next to Vogue, next to Emma Chamberlain, who will be next to Naomi Campbell, who will be next to Charlotte Tilbury.”
The landing page will also be an easy place for users to find the top fashion content available on YouTube rather than using the site’s search tool, which is run by a personalized algorithm. Not only will that ease benefit users, according to Blasberg, but YouTube as well: “It’s a place where I can send potential partners, future channel partners, future advertisers, future brands to say, ‘Look at all this incredible stuff that we’ve got on here.'”
Getting brands to understand YouTube
YouTube is partnering with several brands to create original content for /Fashion, and part of that partnership is pushing brands such as Michael Kors and Victoria Beckham to dive into forms of content that they may not have as much experience with.
“A lot of brands focus on campaigns and branded content, which is an incredible resource and definitely sets the tone for what they’re trying to say, especially for seasonal-based fashion brands, setting the message of the season,” he said. “But what we’re trying to get brands to wrap their heads around is how to create original content.”
That’s where the creators come in. YouTube is bringing together some of its most popular creators to work with these brands, fusing the fashion industry with the personalities users already know and love. Several of these successful collaborations have already dropped: YouTube wunderkind Emma Chamberlain teamed up with Louis Vuitton for a series about its Cruise fashion show earlier this year (which has gotten 2 million views and counting), and the Dolan Twins for its men’s fashion show in June, which received over 4 million views. Both videos hit the trending page on YouTube—quite a feat, according to Blasberg, particularly for a video from a brand.
Other collaborations include Alexander Wang’s Model Bootcamp video with SNL star Pete Davidson, and a behind-the-scenes video of Naomi Campbell’s return to the Valentino runway during Paris Fashion Week. What do all these videos have in common? They offer the unfiltered, candid perspective that YouTube creators are known for, but from an industry with a reputation for glamour and, at times, inaccessibility.
“What works well on YouTube is narrative-driven content that peels back the sort of curtain to the fashion industry,” Blasberg said. “I’ve said to a lot of brands, ‘When you’re creating content for your channel, would you watch this? Is there something that appeals to you and your sense of discovery or service?'”
What YouTube can teach fashion and beauty brands
What YouTube really encourages is for brands to embrace narrative-driven stories, as well as volume. In essence, it wants fashion and beauty brands to think like the creators who make content on YouTube so successful. YouTube partner Michael Kors says they’re hoping to do just that, with original content that often features partnerships with influencers.
“We know our customer is on YouTube,” a Michael Kors spokesperson said. “We want to meet her there, and provide her with content that engages her and that she finds valuable. We have worked hard to develop a ‘creator mindset’ and produce a variety of content types that we believe will align with her interests and passions.”
The opportunity for content centered on fashion-driven moments is endless, Blasberg said, and it’s time brands realized that.
“We used to think when brands have a fashion show, they do one piece of content: a video from the runway,” he said. “What we’re telling brands is that now when you have a fashion show, you need five pieces of content. Of course, you need your runway show, but if you built an incredible set, there should be an installation video around that. If you have an incredible model opening your show, maybe they can do a diary or a vlog. If you have a top makeup artist or hairstylist doing the show, do a ‘recreate the look at home’ [tutorial].
“We’re helping brands understand that when there are these tentpole moments, whether it’s a fashion show, or a campaign shoot or store launch, it’s like a content gold mine, which I think a lot of them don’t realize.”