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Why Coachella is as important for fashion brands as fashion weeks

Nadja Beschetnikova
April 13, 2018

Coachella is without a doubt the fashion mecca of all music festivals. Of course, with acts like Beyoncé (probably most anticipated headliner since she was forced to withdraw at the advice of her doctors after she became pregnant last year), The Weekend and Eminem who are expected to rock the main stage this year, one can’t put music on the back burners. Nevertheless, while some are preparing to growl the favorite hits with the crowd, others are breaking head over outfits.

Coachella's origins date back to a 1993 Pearl Jam show at the Empire Polo Club - a form of boycott against Ticketmaster's dominance over venues in the early 1990s. The concert validated the site's viability for hosting large events. Coachella Festival as it is known today began in October 1999. In 2012, the festival expanded to the second weekend. Currently, it held on consecutive three-day weekends in April. This year it begins on April 13 and ends on April 22.

A-list celebrities who are regular attendees include Kendall Jenner, Alexa Chang, Cara and Poppy Delevingne, Gigi Hadid, Selena Gomez, Alessandra Ambrosio to name just a few. Let alone a bunch of digital influencers, like Chiara Ferragni and Caro Dauer.

Small wonder, that for the past five years, fashion houses, lifestyle brands, and beauty companies including H&M, PopSugar, Lacoste, and Kiehl's have been flocking to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. The start of the festival season is just the right time for brand activations.

Coachella has steadily evolved into a celebrated cultural landmark for great music and positive experiences. One of the biggest US-based festivals with its multigenerational audience is a tremendous opportunity for brands and influencers to strut their stuff, boost business, increase customer base, and expand influence.

Marketing at Coachella isn’t just a series of booths or banners on the backdrop of a stage. It’s integrated, designed to be a part of the experience. Many brands open pop-up stores or hire a booth: be in the public eye and interact with people during these festival weekends is becoming as important as fashion weeks participation.

Given that festival gets a huge social media coverage, it’s a good chance to make waves and attract the audience.

Coachella now draws over 100,000 visitors during each day, and they’ll be posting Instagram photos, creating Stories on Snapchat and Instagram, live streaming, tweeting, taking video and more in the course of their time at the festival.

Last year, there were over 2 million Instagram posts, featuring hashtags like #coachella, or #coachellastyle.

Another profitable option for the brands is a direct connection with influencers to cultivate long-term relationships with them for future influencer marketing campaigns.

In 2013, Kate Bosworth debuted her Topshop collection at the festival, while PopSugar and Olay’s “Relax and Refresh” lounge supplied dust-covered, sunburnt festival goers with beauty products.

H&M, the only brand with an official partnership with Coachella itself, launched several exclusive capsule collection, specially for the festival.
And brands are capitalizing on the festival before it even begins. Most campaigns start in February and March with exclusive parties and shopping events.

Last year, Victoria's Secret joined the league of brands who use the festival as a platform for active promotion. Before heading to Coachella, the brand hosted private shopping and styling event for the press in Los Angeles to build buzz for its first ever «Angel Oasis» at the festival.
Another pre-Coachella shopping event called Buchella is happening at the Rosenthal Winery in Malibu.

With an audience that is typically not a stranger to the camera, it’s important to hone in on opportunities for their social media content. In 2014, Lacoste took over a private residence near the festival ground to host the L!VE Pool Party, featuring large pool filled with giant green inflatable Lacoste crocodiles.

The road to the venue was lined with containers of ice cold Evian water. Pretty tempting invitation to take refuge from the desert sun.

Pandora jewelry was on site at Coachella to showcase “Pandora Jewelry Fashion Experience”. Guests could escape the heat in the crystal mirage tunnel and discover there new brand’s signature colorful and stylish braided leather bracelets.

Besides, Coachella was a kickstarter for many trends that went far beyond the festival grounds such as flower crowns and chokers.

Many retailers recognized the power of festival-themed communication. You can already find "festival edits" at retailers including Net-a Porter, Bloomingdale's, Topshop, ASOS and Free People. There are numerous online guides, offering different styles and looks for the festival, from bohemian chic and disco divas to country-style romantic. Of course, the outfits feature items from the latest collection. 

Many fashion websites are trying to predict what will be the hottest trend? ‘90s vibes, holographic hair buns, pricy streetwear and logos galore are among the most the most probable beauty and fashion trends by now.

If you’re lucky enough to be heading to the iconic event this year, what’s your choice? 

Photo via Wikipedia Commons / Alan Paone