Snapshot from Nanette Lepore’s Spring/Summer 2012 collection.
Instagram may have been the darling of New York Fashion Week in February, but this September, several fashion reporters are turning to Viddy and other forms of mobile video distribution to compliment their coverage.
Eva Chen, Teen Vogue beauty director and hyperactive user of Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram, has been uploading several short videos to Viddy at and in between each show she’s attended since Fashion Week began last Thursday.
At Diane von Furstenberg’s show on Sunday afternoon, for instance, she uploaded four: In the first, Italian fashion designer Valentino Garavani greets actress Sarah Jessica Parker; in the second, Furstenberg, her creative director, Yvan Mispelaere, and Google co-founder Sergey Brin do a post-show “victory lap” wearing Google Glass; in a third, she captures the reflective, lip-shaped cut-outs hanging above the runway. The last, which was uploaded later, shows the model directions posted backstage.
Chen shared two still images through Instagram of that same show: One a close-up of Sarah Jessica Parker and Bravo’s Andy Cohen greeting designer Oscar de la Renta; the second a backstage shot of the platform shoes models wore down the runway.
Why is Chen using video? It’s partly, she says, because her iPhone camera is broken — “It’s stuck on record mode,” she explains. “But when I look at Fashion Week I recognize that there are many ways to capture it. If you’re showing a manicure Instagram makes sense, but with video you can capture the swing of a skirt, the swish of a model’s hair.”
Chen has been uploading 15-second videos to Viddy to capture short moments — moments, she says, that benefit from motion capture but may not be worth a full upload to YouTube. “Plus, Viddy has a great community aspect. There are a lot of young girls there, the Teen Vogue audience.”
With her iPhone camera broken, Chen is using a Samsung Galaxy SIII to capture still images. It has a setting, she says, that allows her to take 20 photos with the single click of a button. “It takes longer to edit down, but the images are gorgeous.” She carries a point-and-shoot for more arranged shots, and is capturing longer-form video — mainly backstage interviews — with that camera, which are later uploaded to YouTube.
Chen isn’t the only reporter using Viddy for coverage. Amber Joy Kallor, senior associate beauty editor at Shape magazine, has been uploading backstage and runway shots to Viddy several times per day since Fashion Week kicked off. Fashion bloggers such as William Yan and Cult of Pretty‘s Ann Colville Somma are likewise contributing, as are brands including Mac Cosmetics and DVF.
What could this mean for 2-year-old Viddy? The app has 39 million users — by comparison, Instagram has more than 80 million as of late July — but still has some way to go towards mainstream adoption and recognition. As with Tumblr, use by fashion reporters, brands and their image-hungry audiences could help accelerate that process, if not day-to-day, then at big events like Fashion Week and the Oscars, where fashion reporters are likely to be present and in full live-recording mode.
Beyond Viddy, reporters at The Wall Street Journal are maintaining stream of short videos, typically between 30 and 45 seconds, which are shot and uploaded from their smartphones using a Viddy-like app called Tout. Tout videos are usually limited to 15 seconds, but the Journal has an arrangement that allows reporters to record and upload videos up to 45 seconds long, retail reporter Elizabeth Holmes tells me.
The visual quality isn’t great, but the audio narration makes them worth watching. Take the video Christina Binkley recorded as she walks into Tommy Hilfiger’s lantern-lit show on the Chelsea Highline: “Designers love to have a whole set like it was a theater. And Tommy Hilfiger has the money to spend to do it,” she says.
In another video, Elva Ramirez takes viewers backstage at Derek Lam. The image isn’t exciting, but her narration gives it context. “This is what it’s like being backstage at Derek Lam… For the most part it’s very calm, not very chaotic, one of the calmest backstage I’ve ever seen.”
Thus far, Holmes tells me she has been using video primarily to record the finales of shows, in which all of the looks re-appear on the runway at once. “Usually the finale doesn’t take that long, I can upload it and people can see the highlights of a show in 45 seconds,” she explains. “It’s nice to show people the clothes as they’re moving and all of the looks. When I just tweet photos, they can only see about five looks.”
The quality may not be great, but her followers are hungry for any bit of insight into Fashion Week, Holmes says. “There are so many people glued to their computers for any tweet or picture or whatever,” she adds. “With video we also get show music, we get a bit of the vibe too, which is cool — anything we can do to remind people that the Journal has phenomenal fashion coverage.”
I asked Holmes how she managed to capture photos, video and see the show. She says she begins by running iPhone app Shazam to figure out the song — “People are really interested in the song,” she explains — switches over to her iPhone camera to capture as many shots as she can, and then switches over to video during the finale. “If I’m sitting front row I cross my leg and use knee as a stabilizer to record video,” she says. She’ll switch back to camera mode again if she’s close enough to capture a designer taking a bow.
The biggest challenge? “Wi-Fi is sporadic, but my biggest frustration will always be the battery life,” Holmes says. Even with an iPhone-charging Mophie case on Sunday, her battery was drained before the last show she attended.
Mobile video is still in its infancy, but as recording quality and data speeds improve, we can expect to see a lot more of it in fashion weeks to come.