aDResearch ESIC International Journal of Communication Research


Reinventing communication in the fashion industry during the COVID-19 pandemic: the case of LOEWE

Reinventando la comunicación en la industria de la moda durante la pandemia COVID-19: el caso LOEWE

Jing Zhou1, Jun Tan2, Paloma Díaz Soloaga3
1UCM Doctoral Student,
2UCM Doctoral Student,
3UCM Professor of Intangible Goods and Fashion, and member of the Complutense Group for Integrated Fashion Management and Communication,


Purpose: The crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has put the fashion industry’s response capacity to the test. However, Loewe has managed to increase its sales and became the only Spanish brand to augment its brand equity. This growth is largely due its reinvented use of communication tools and an orientation shift in terms of audio-visual strategy. This research principally aims to study the strategies that Loewe implemented in its effort to reinvent itself during the pandemic.

Design/Methodology/Approach: A quantitative, descriptive methodology was used for a first approach to the brand, which was then complemented with qualitative examples that shed light on the conclusions. We selected social media publications from between January 2019 and January 2021 on Loewe’s official accounts for this research.

Results: Even given the impacts of COVID-19, Loewe has taken advantage of this crisis to reinvent itself and continues to be at the forefront of the fashion industry, using social networks to co-create the brand with users. This article concludes by proposing a theoretical model that illustrates this new way of creating value for luxury fashion brands.

Limitations: This research is limited to analysis of data over a single year, which is not enough to accurately gauge the results of the reinvention process that Jonathan Anderson initiated. The study lacks analysis of consumer feedback in digital settings.

Originally/Contribution: This article is very original in terms of research on fashion brands’ strategy during the Covid-19 crisis.

JEL Classification: MX; CX

Keywords: Brand value; Fashion; Communication; Loewe; COVID-19; social media


Objetivo: La crisis generada por la pandemia Covid-19 ha puesto a prueba la capacidad de respuesta de la industria de la moda. Sin embargo, Loewe logró incrementar sus ventas y se convirtió en la única marca española que aumentó su valor de marca. Este crecimiento se debe en gran medida a la reinvención del uso de las herramientas de comunicación y el cambio de la orientación de su estrategia audiovisual. El objetivo principal de la investigación consiste en el estudio de las estrategias utilizadas por la marca en su esfuerzo por reinventarse durante la pandemia.

Diseño/metodología/enfoque: Se decidió recurrir a una metodología cuantitativa, de corte descriptivo para un primer acercamiento a la marca, y se completó con algunos ejemplos cualitativos para ilustrar las conclusiones. Seleccionamos las publicaciones en sus redes sociales entre enero de 2019 y enero de 2021 para hacer la investigación.

Resultados: Aun habiendo sufrido el impacto de la COVID-19, Loewe ha sabido aprovechar esta crisis para reinventarse y continuar en la vanguardia del sector de la moda, usando las redes sociales para innovar y co-crear la marca junto al usuario. Se concluye el artículo con la propuesta de un modelo teórico que ilustra el nuevo modo de creación de valor, para una marca de moda de lujo.

Limitaciones: La investigación se limita al análisis de los datos de un solo año, lo que no termina de ser suficiente para ver con precisión los resultados del proceso de reinvención iniciado por Jonathan Anderson. El estudio carece del análisis de la retroalimentación de los consumidores en escenarios digitales.

Originalidad/contribución: El trabajo tiene una gran originalidad en la investigación de la estrategia de marca de moda en la crisis de Covid-19.

Clasificación JEL: MX; CX

Palabras clave: Valor de marca; Moda; Comunicación; Loewe; COVID-19; Redes Sociales

1. Introduction

The crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic has put the Spanish fashion industry's response capacity to the test. However, one luxury brand, Loewe, has managed to increase its sales and to become the only Spanish brand in the 2020 Brand Finance Luxury & Premium 50 ranking, by increasing its brand equity, surpassing the two main axes of the brand (value and strength) by 21.5%. This growth is due not only to the creative activity of Jonathan Anderson, but above all to its shifting audiovisual communication strategy and to how it changed its communication direction on social networks.

Scholars have frequently studied the concept of brand equity, which represents a brand's relational asset in the marketplace. It is generated through interactions between brands and their clients (Iglesias et al., 2019), and is traditionally associated with the influence a brand’s personality has on its target public (Ruiz-Aguilar y Avalos-Pelayo, 2020). Since brand personality and the consumer are inseparable from communication activity, brand equity is largely dependent on a brand’s communication strategy.

The Loewe company, which belongs to the luxury conglomerate LVMH, is one of the first fashion companies to use digital marketing and audiovisual communication in their brand positioning plan. Its active use of digital strategies and immersion in audiovisual language has attracted young consumers. These activities are largely why its brand equity has grown.

This study first presents the relevant background and objectives, in addition to an applied research methodology for its subsequent analysis. It then explores the theoretical support for brand equity, co-creation, as well as the fashion sector’s main brand communication tools. After a content analysis of Loewe's publications on its social networks, the results of the data are explored. It ends with discussion of the study’s conclusions and limitations.

1.1 Background

Loewe is a fashion house created in Spain in 1846 by the German craftsman Enrique Loewe Roessberg. With innovative, elegant and high-quality creations, Loewe became an official supplier to the Royal House in 1905, driving the company’s growth. During the 1950s, the brand was revitalized with the arrival of Hollywood and cinema. In 1996, Loewe joined the LVMH group and began its international expansion. This operation has modernized the company, embracing more advanced management concepts and comprehensive marketing strategies.

In 2013, with the arrival of Jonathan Anderson, a young, 29-year-old designer, a new era in the brand's history dawned. In its official communications, Loewe explained that this change sought to “inject modernity and cultural awareness” into the century-old fashion house (Modaes, 2014) in order “modernize at various levels, similar to its development in the 1950s, 60s and 70s” (Fernández and Martínez, 2016).

At the same time, Loewe’s relaunch coincided with fashion’s rising popularity among young people, who began to save money, follow their idols’ style and consume the culture of their favorite brands. Anderson’s understanding of popular culture and his transformation of the brand’s visual expression helped win over more young consumers and take the brand to a new level.

Before Anderson's arrival, Loewe had become a stern, and even suffocating, brand due to an excessive link with its past. Upon his arrival, he made radical changes by renovating Loewe stores, recovering the value of interior space, and redesigning the brand's regal logo. At the same time, he revitalized artisan processes, planning the design of new bags (the brand's flagship product), and created the Loewe Foundation for the recovery of traditional craft. In short, he fine-tuned the brand to increase its attractiveness among millennial and centennial generations (Douglas, 2019).

1.2 Objectives

This article aims to study the communication strategies that the Loewe brand has used in its effort to reinvent itself during the pandemic and guarantee the growth of its brand equity. To achieve this general objective, the research process was structured around the following specific objectives:

Objective 1: To understand the activity level and rate of publication on Loewe social media accounts in the current pandemic context.

Objective 2: To confirm the brand’s level of interaction and engagement with users on Loewe's social networks.

Objective 3: To determine the themes and kind of content published by Loewe on its main social networks, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook, during COVID-19.

Objective 4: To carry out a two-year comparison (2019-2020) of publications on these social networks in order to explore how Loewe's communication strategy changed.

1.3 Methodology

Regarding the methodology, this study first uses a quantitative descriptive method to analyze the brand’s communication behavior, and finishes with qualitative examples to shed light on the conclusions.

In order to explore Loewe's reinvented communication during the pandemic, we selected content published on its social networks between January 2019 and January 2021. Within these publications, we thought it relevant to analyze a few special cases to learn how the brand has used public relations as a powerful strategic tool during the pandemic, focusing on limited editions and fashion shows.

To achieve the study’s specific objectives, we set out to observe Loewe’s social networks as follows:

On Instagram, we collected posts from March 2020 to January 2021 and performed a content analysis, identifying the following variables:

1. Number of followers

2. Publications



5. Hashtags

In order to compare the brand’s behavior on this social network, we compared Loewe publications with those of the French leather goods brand Hermes during the same period.

On YouTube, we decided to collect data from 2019 and part of 2020, paying attention to the following:

1. Number of videos published

2. Displays



In addition, we classified publication topics in order to group the most common types of messages. At the same time, we compared the two years analyzed (2019-2020) to determine if Loewe made changes to the type of content published in light of COVID-19.

On Facebook, we only monitored publications from 2020 with the intention of conducting an in-depth study on the type of content that the brand uploaded during the pandemic period. In this case we looked at the following factors:

1. Number of publications

2. Comentarios


4. Number of times posts have been shared

5. Content classification and format

2. Theoretical framework

2.1 Brand equity

According to Aaker (1991), brand equity (BE) refers to consumers’ perception and subjective evaluation of a brand, as well as the benefits and values obtained from it (Aaker, 1991). The author presents BE analysis as a multidimensional construct based on four components: perceived quality (PC), notoriety (N), associations with the brand (ASB) and loyalty (L). In 2002, Villarejo identified high value components associated with a product that consumers perceive, including (1) quality, (2) brand name recognition over that of competitors, (3) attribution of positive associations that contribute to its image favorable and (4) identification with the brand as loyal consumers (Villarejo, 2002).

BE is a widely studied concept in the fashion industry since it not only looks at products’ tangible characteristics, but also at their intangible aspects, like consumers’ personal points of view (Davcik et al., 2015). In this sense, a brand with high BE implies that its values are consistent with consumers’ belief systems and emotions. In this way, consumers are able to feel appreciation for brands (Kaufmann et al., 2016).

2.2 Co-creation

In recent years, perspectives on the creation of value in research have evolved from a traditional approach based on companies’ creative activity to a concept of value based on co-creation among various stakeholders in collaboration with brands (Muñoz and Diaz-Soloaga, 2020).

The traditional view of value holds that companies and customers play different, independent roles in the creation of value. The company creates value and transmits it to customers, and customers and users benefit from this value. The idea of value co-creation breaks from this view and turns it into an evolutionary and two-way process.

Ind and Coates (2013) understand co-creation as a creative process of simultaneous interaction between the needs of both stakeholders and the organization, with the aim of generating a new idea. For Roser et al. (2013), it is an interactive, creative and social process among stakeholders and initiated by organizations with the aim of creating value. More recently, Herrera and Hidalgo defined it as the value-adding mechanism in which different actors are involved, with clients actively participating in the ideation stage during the innovation process (Herrera-González e Hidalgo-Nuchera, 2017). Finally, Saunila et al. (2019) consider co-creation a “culture of openness” associated with customer engagement and change processes for the creation of value.

2.3 Fashion brands’ communication tools

It is common to separately classify conventional and unconventional media in the fashion sector. Conventional media includes the tools used by the media to reach their target audiences through television, fashion magazines (physical and digital), outdoor advertising and radio. According to Díaz Soloaga (2014) “"nowadays, conventional advertising in mass media— such as on television, cinema and radio— and advertising in external media— in newspapers and magazines and on the Internet— are clearly declining”.

They coexist with other communication formulas that, although sometimes use traditional media, do so without resorting to the payment of established fees, thanks to coverage and publicity obtained through other forms of communication, including special events, fashion shows and their presence at textile or fashion fairs, sponsorship of activities, fashion films, showroom and press-day, collaboration with celebrities and communication activities on social networks as a whole.

3. Loewe’s communication strategies during the pandemic

3.1 LOEWE’s social networks

3.1.1 Instagram

As a social network, Instagram presents enormous potential for fashion brands and, since its creation in 2010, has garnered more than one billion users worldwide. On it, users are allowed to share photos and videos; it has the second highest amount of users of any social network in Spain and has also undergone the greatest development since its creation (El, 2018; Smith, 2018). Fashion brands are increasingly using this platform to communicate with their customers and show their presence. Through hashtags, contests, videos and images, Instagram allows brands to use it to clearly define their brand image, display their company culture, and exhibit projects, staff or products (Saravanakamur and SuganthaLakshmi, 2012).

To begin with, the official Loewe account has 5,284 publications and 2.68 million followers, while that of Hermes has 2,115 publications and 10.62 million followers. The number of followers on the latter is almost 4 times higher than that of Loewe, but the Spanish brand had more than double the number of publications. The number of brand followers, although considered an important indicator of brand engagement, does not necessarily determine the effectiveness of brand communication on social networking sites (SNS) (DeMers, 2014). For this reason, consumers often prefer brands with more diverse and interesting content.

Table 1. Number of Loewe and Hermés Instagram posts

Source: Authors’ elaboration

In the period before the beginning of the pandemic, Loewe published 651 posts, a number that is quite similar to the 615 posts in the subsequent period (March 2020 - January 2021), which reflects the brand’s concerted effort to generate content of interest during this time.

Between March and June 2020, during the first wave of the pandemic in Spain, the number of publications decreased significantly. The cancellation of fashion weeks and social distancing measures nearly caused the fashion industry to stagnate. However, very quickly, the brand caught up and, between June and October, the number of publications began to grow again.

If we compare publications on the official accounts of Loewe and Hermes during the same months between 2020 and 2021, Hermes published less than Loewe. Above all, the French brand’s diminished effort is striking in terms of varying content and adapting to the new, pandemic-related circumstances.

Regarding the engagement capacity of Loewe’s publications through user and consumer responses, we recorded the number of "likes" on publications with more than 10,000 "likes" during this period and their associated subject matter (Table 2).

Table 2. Publications with more than 10,000 "likes"

Source: Authors’ elaboration

We found 107 very popular publications during the analyzed period, of which the most frequent, 53 in total, were dedicated to product “promotion.” These images showed bags and clothes in striking photographs. This information is valuable because it speaks of the brand to its potential customers. It could even be said that, during quarantine, these publications constituted a kind of “window shopping” for consumers. It is surprising that many of these promotional photos featured scenes from everyday life inside stores and other places, rather than neutral backgrounds. They seemed to attempt to establish an emotional bond with consumers during a period of social distancing and isolation. This strategy represents a new storytelling trend in fashion brand marketing. Other research on storytelling in Instagram posts confirms that the display of unofficial and life-oriented posts is conducive to the development of brands’ emotions, which are an important part of brand equity (Velasco Molpeceres, 2021).

Figure 1. Example of a Loewe Instagram post

Source: Instagram

In addition to its normal products, limited collections were also exhibited on this platform. Among the publications that received the most attention, of note is the collection inspired by the Japanese anime series “My Neighbor Totoro;” almost all associated publications received more than 10,000 “likes.” This collection caught the attention of younger customers, with images framed in natural settings. Images from Joe Brainard's “Pansies” collection, with the same natural tones, were also very popular, and two of his posts received more than 20,000 “likes”.

Figure 2. Example of a Loewe Instagram post

Source: Instagram

Celebrity posts also display a similar trend. Of interest, the content with the most likes went to photos with famous Japanese women, like those of Mio Imada, Michiko Kitamura and Tsubasa Honda, which received more than 30,000 likes and were accompanied by the hashtag “inspiring individuals.” These images, with a soft color scheme and feminine gaze, represent institutional support for women and demonstrate the brand's social commitment, while also achieving reflection. These posts are not only aimed at the Asian market, but also convey a sense of orientalism to Western recipients. Indeed, Loewe’s publications contain substantial content on oriental art and culture. Examples thereof will be discussed later.

Figure 3. Example of a Loewe Instagram post

Source: Instagram

Hashtags aim not only to facilitate publication searches, but also to satisfy an emotional need from consumers, who enjoy sharing images with their peers (Perse and Rubin, 1989). That is, consumers display their approval of designs and the brand’s cultural positioning. Thus, in our context, hashtags reflect brand loyalty rather than the product in itself. They also inspire other Instagram users to imitate photos or videos and to engage in performance art and even in a cultural phenomenon.

3.1.2 YouTube

YouTube is a matchless platform when it comes to marketing in the fashion sector, not least because it reaches and establishes a direct relationship with users, but also because it is an online video portal on which users do not have to pay for the content they view (Pérez Rufí and Gómez Pérez, 2013).

We chose YouTube to compare Loewe content before and after the arrival of COVID-19, as well as to analyze the changes the brand made during this period. A total of 64 videos were included; they were published on YouTube from January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2020. To perform content analysis of these videos, we considered the following variables:

1. Identification data: video title, publication date.

2. Quantity: number of videos published and number of views.

3. User interaction:

a. Number of comments.

b. Number of "likes".

4. Publication themes.

To compare publications before and after the impact of COVID-19, we elaborated the following tables based on the variables mentioned above.

Table 3. Videos published on the Loewe YouTube channel in 2020

Source: Authors’ elaboration

Table 4. Videos published on the Loewe YouTube channel in 2019

Source: Authors’ elaboration

YouTube’s dynamics are quite different from those of Instagram and, in general, the content quality published on this network is much lower than what is published on Instagram. On YouTube, only audiovisual content is published, while Instagram hosts content in the form of images, photos or videos of a shorter duration.

Table 5. Comparison of the number of videos in 2019 and 2020 on YouTube

Source: Authors’ elaboration

During the analyzed period, there were a total of 64 videos; in quantitative terms, the number of publications increased during the health crisis. Specifically, Loewe generated a total of 42 videos in 2020, compared to 22 videos in 2019. In 2020, January saw the highest level of activity, with a total of 11 videos, followed by October, when 8 were published. From April to August, Loewe’s use of YouTube was internal (in August no videos were published). At the same time, content published during 2019 was relatively scarce and no content was released in February, May, October or November of that year. Therefore, the frequency of publication during 2020 was higher than that of 2019, especially in September and October 2020, when the number of publications increased significantly (in these two months, fashion films, collections and other videos in which celebrities participated were published).

In the data analyzed from 2019 and 2020, videos received a total of 9,134,750 and 315,449 views respectively.

Table 6. Comparing number of views on YouTube in 2019 and 2020

Source: Authors’ elaboration

In 2019, the three videos with the highest levels of views were as follows: Eye/Loewe/Nature | A new menswear line inspired by the outdoors with 4,084,197 views, #Loewe Paula's Ibiza 2019 with 2,328,989 views and #Loewe Spring Summer 2020 Womenswear show, Paris with 1,034,846 views.

The most watched video in 2020 corresponds to Loewe en casa|Ryota Katayose celebrates Father's Day, on June 21, with 10,045 views. Ryota Katayose is a Japanese singer and actor who attended the Loewe Fall/Winter 2020 men’s show in Paris at the beginning of 2020. His collaboration with the brand has continued, making a special June 2020 video for Father's Day that received the highest number of views. This video also received the most comments (170) and “likes” (4,577) among 2020 publications.

The data indicates that 2019 publications received more visits because Loewe held several offline fashion shows and other large-scale events before the pandemic, and viewership of this type of content is normally very high. However, in 2020, these offline shows were canceled or postponed, which led to a reduction in content. At the same time, it was also an opportunity for the brand to shift its communication activities to a mostly digital format, as will be seen later.

In fact, greater emphasis on two-way communication opens up the brand to important responses that can inform its sales and marketing strategy, as well as increase its engagement (Alonso, 2015).

Regarding comments and "likes" received, it is clear that users interacted more with the brand during 2020 than 2019, which is mainly reflected in "likes." Loewe received a total of 376 comments and 7,953 “likes” in 2020. The level of user interaction especially increased during June 2020; however, engagement in 2019 was not good since there were relatively few likes (5,411) and comments (296) when compared to 2020.

Table 7. Comparison of YouTube comments (left) and "likes" (right) in 2019 and 2020

Source: Authors’ elaboration

Among the 2020 videos, the one with the most comments and “likes” was also the one with the most visits, namely Loewe en casa | Ryota Katayose celebrates Father's Day. It thus follows that the inclusion of a celebrity contributes to the dissemination of brand content.

Loewe has a wide variety of typologies when it comes to its YouTube posts, which we classified in order to group the content studied. These themes included the following categories: shows (offline and online seasonal fashion shows), interviews, crafts (about the process of creating bags), collection, short film and/or fashion film, exhibition, celebrities, culture (ceramics, Shadow Puppetry, Decoration Knotting), product promotion and other types. We classified and compared the videos released in 2020 and 2019, as seen in Table 8.

Table 8. Publication themes on YouTube

Source: Authors’ elaboration

Regarding publication themes, in 2020, Loewe allocated 26% of its publications to short films, 19% to celebrities and 17% to fashion shows. Publications dedicated to culture came to 14% and crafts to 12%. It only allocated 10% of its videos to showing its collections, while 2% involved specific promotions with a single video entitled Loewe Elephant Cover for iPhone 11. In 2019, Loewe allocated 36% of its publications to fashion shows, while 23% corresponded to short films. The rest of the videos were divided between interviews (14%), exhibitions (9%), crafts (5%), collections (4%), promotions (4%) and others (5%).

The health crisis seems to have led Loewe to rethink its published content. For example, they began using short films as a strategy related to brand content since they generate a strong emotional connection and are highly appealing. At the same time, they focused on featuring famous people in activities with the brand. This is the case of the videos entitled Loewe|A short film on artist Ken Price, Loewe|Jonathan Anderson masterclass with Loïc Prigent and Loewe|Thomas Tallis’ Spem in Alium among others.

In addition, a few new categories emerged, including crafts and culture. Regarding crafts, the brand launched a series of videos on how to make bags by hand, such as Loewe|Balloon bag, Loewe Making of|Episode #9 Puzzle Tan Bag, and Loewe Making of|Episode #8 Barcelona Bag, to name a few.

In terms of culture, Loewe has published a few videos about traditional Chinese artisan families, including the video Loewe|Lunar New Year: The Art of Shadow Puppetryas a Chinese cultural journey themed around shadow puppetry; the video Loewe|Lunar New Year: The Art of Decorative Knotting shows how a group of artisans contributes to the social heritage of Chinese intangible cultural heritage through three traditional knots that reinterpret the brand's logo. The video Loewe|The Art of Bench Dragons introduces us to the artisan Wei Yonglai, who works in his village after 50 years and continues his legacy through his children and grandchildren. Loewe displays the values of ancestral cultures and, in this way, gives a sense of belonging to a group with a passion for fashion and art. At the same time, it expresses its respect for other distant and little-known cultures (Pedrosa García, E, 2020).

In short, analyzing Loewe’s YouTube videos points to the fact that the platform has considerable potential for creating information that favors the brand’s strategic marketing objectives.

3.1.3 Facebook

Our analysis of Loewe’s Facebook posts included a total of 784 publications between March 2020 and January 2021 (which coincides with the height of COVID-19’s impact). Data collection considered the following variables:

1. Number of monthly publications.

2. Interaction between users and the brand:

• Comments

• “Likes”

• Number of times a post is shared

3. Publications with or without a link.

4. Publication format:

• Photos

• Videos

• Images

5. Theme:

• Product

• Collection

• Illustration

• Fashion film

• Promotion

• Design sketch

• Conversation

• Others

The results of our content analysis can be found in tables 9 -13:

Table 9. Number of posts on Facebook

Source: Authors’ elaboration

First, Table 9 demonstrates that Loewe published content quite frequently on Facebook. Indeed, there were a total of 784 publications on Facebook from March 2020 to January 2021, with an average of 71 posts per month, which far outpaced its YouTube publications, for example. June 2020 stands out with a total of 96 publications, followed by October (88) and November (85). June and August 2020 saw the fewest posts.

Regarding user interaction (Table 10), three observations are in order, including the number of comments, the number of “likes” and the number of times a post was shared

Table 10. User interaction with the brand on Facebook


Number of comments

Average number of comments per post

Number of likes

Average number of likes per post

Number of times shared

Average number of times shared per post
















































































Average: 1,79


Average: 278


Average: 8,03

Source: Authors’ elaboration

First, regarding the number of comments, there were a total of 1,421 comments during the study period, with an average of 1.792 comments for each publication. Among them, January 2021 saw the most comments, with 267, followed by 229 comments in March 2020 and 213 in December 2020. In general, the number of comments has steadily increased from June of last year to the present, which leads to the impression that interactivity and engagement between users and the brand is on the rise.

Second, a total of 218,883 “likes” were registered, with December (27,927) and September (26,903) having the most “likes,” and June with the lowest number of “likes” (7,055). In addition, numerical coherence emerged between publications and interactions. June 2020 had the lowest percentage of interactions (fewer comments and less “likes”).

We subsequently analyzed the number of times publications were shared (Table 11). This indicator serves to understand the interaction between users and brands; January 2021 had the highest number, with 837 shares, followed by April 2020 with 835 shares, and July 2020 with 700 shares.

Table 11. Number of linked/unlinked publications on Facebook

Source: Authors’ elaboration

We found that Loewe prefers publications with “written texts with an image and link” (Table 12) since links have been shown to play a fundamental role in digital communications. 76% of Loewe publications add a link that goes directly to the official Loewe website or to the specific website associated with the content. The other 24% did not contain any links, but instead displayed content with text or text and images. On the other hand, the incorporation of links ostensibly optimizes user experience, aiming to guide or lead them towards valuable content.

Table 12. Format of Facebook posts

Source: Authors’ elaboration

Loewe’s publication formats varied the most on this social network (Table 12). 89% contained photos, which is not surprising since striking photos of products can attract users to view content; videos (7%) were the next most used format, followed by images or drawings (3%) and to a lesser extent (1%) by podcasts and music.

Loewe posts on Facebook presented a wide range of categories. Among them, content related to product presentation and collection launch represents the largest proportion: 280 publications were related to brand products and 246 to collections, followed by promotion (71) and events (46). The rest of the posts are divided between shows (40), exhibition (20), fashion film (17), conversation (13) and others.

Table 13. Publication themes on Facebook

Source: Authors’ elaboration

A series of especially noteworthy publications pertains to Loewe’s effort to manufacture masks, eventually donating 100,000 units to the Red Cross. It also collaborated with a child protection platform when it launched educational programs. Both actions reflect the brand's commitment and cooperation with specific social initiatives.

Figure 4. Example of a Facebook publication

Source: Facebook

3.2 Public relations as a strategic communication tool

3.2.1 Limited collections

To reach young consumers, fashion brands collaborate with designers and artists from a variety of fields to launch products from shared limited collections. This type of combined collection is very popular and successful in terms of sales.

During the pandemic, Loewe launched several limited series, all of which have been well received, in particular the Loewe x My Neighbor Totoro capsule collection. This collaboration, which goes back to the 1988 Japanese animated film, contains a powerful symbolic world associated with nature and the importance of protecting it (LVMH, 2021).

With a very Japanese, naive and sentimental style that is far removed from the anthropomorphic aesthetic of Walt Disney, the director of My Neighbor Totoro, Hayao Miyazaki, adopts a child-like perception of the world's problems and portrays nature as a protective entity (Toh, 2021). Ultimately, this collaboration with Studio Ghibli has deeper implications and conveys a sense of social responsibility towards the environment. Loewe has become aware of the need to build a brand committed to and responsible for protecting the environment above emphasizing the value of owning and enjoying luxury goods. This idea, confirmed in an interview with Jonathan Anderson in Vogue, emphasizes the power and resilience of childhood fantasy, as well as optimism in the healing force of nature (Bobb, 2021). At this extraordinary time, the brand decided to harness the energy and symbolism associated with cultural metaphors to demonstrate its emotional commitment amid a global health crisis. As can be seen, this collection is not just a commercial activity, but also aims to go further through the creation of works of art that help balance people internally.

At the same time, product sales reflect the success of this marketing strategy on social networks (Instagram, YouTube and Facebook); the associated products sold out on Loewe’s official website.

3.2.2 Fashion shows and fairs

Fashion shows are fashion brands’ communication event par excellence, as well as a means of promotion, since they aim to boost buyers’ desire to acquire the garments displayed (Arriaga and Fondevila, 2009; Díaz Soloaga, 2014). The restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 health crisis forced fashion brands to carry out their shows online. Loewe, unlike most brands, chose to abandon the concept of a fashion show all together and has leaned on other tools that reflect the same sentiments previously conveyed by fashion shows.

During the period we analyzed, the brand launched three special presentations, including Show-in-a-box, Show-on-the-wall and Show-in-a-book , to replace the conventional fashion show. As a first response to the pandemic, the Loewe Spring/Summer 2021 men's collection was presented as a Show-in-a-box, and was creatively directed by Jonathan Anderson and M/M Paris. This new fashion show was inspired by Duchamp's Box in a Suitcase (Blanks, 2021) as a portable museum concept. The show took place inside a box and Jonathan Anderson transformed it from a short-lived event to a physical work of art that can be enjoyed at home. These presentations are one of the best examples of the fashion show’s reinvention in the face of the global crisis caused by COVID-19.

As previously mentioned, Loewe’s creative director set out to revitalize the brand through the reinvention of craftsmanship, for which he established the Loewe Foundation. In this direction, his new fashion shows seem like a constant search for the artisan spirit that defines the brand. On this point, consumers themselves carry out the artisan activity. Through these activities, Jonathan Anderson is gradually transforming Loewe's system of cultural references since, in his opinion, the great fashion show is now dead, and Loewe will create value through a variety of practices that add value to the brand (Gardetti, 2016). As McLuhan pronounced, the medium is the message (McLuhan, 2004) and, for Anderson, the presentation of this series revolves around the home and everyday life. In this way, he has managed to modify the spatial narrative of fashion shows thanks to the “material-image, digital-material” communication process. This type of offline fashion show respects pandemic-mandated social distancing policies and also mitigates feelings of nihilism that virtual reality technology can bring up.

In addition, this communication strategy shift represents Jonathan Anderson's aim to humanize relationships through publications and other traditional media and platforms. Ultimately, he seeks a more cultural brand image, starting from an originating romantic idea to its execution and final visual impact. By investing in cultural heritage and lifestyle, thus creating a new value system, the brand’s efforts have stood out during the pandemic.

4. Findings

As explained above, this research explores Loewe’s strategies in its effort to reinvent itself during the pandemic and to create brand equity.

The following results, based on the publication of many posts on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook, demonstrate that digital tools are very effective communication devices that are close to the consumer:

1. Loewe’s communication strategy shift, initiated in 2014 with the incorporation of Jonathan Anderson, has continued in the same direction during the pandemic. The brand has reinforced cultural values by connecting with artisans, writers, sculptors and film directors, of both classic and contemporary works. In this way, and thanks to the creation of designs and to strategic management of Anderson's communication, the link between culture, society and fashion has strengthened, generating positive associations and increased value for the brand. This benefits the brand with growing appreciation for Loewe through emotional connection with the brand’s customers and users on its various platforms.

2. Fashion shows, special events and exhibitions are some of Loewe's preferred activities, placing it among the luxury brands with cultural heritage and continuing to sustain its high culture association. At the same time, by using innovative concepts that reinvent traditional tools and content that adds value to the brand, Loewe has reinvented tools, surprised its public with unpredictable resources, and displayed a resilient attitude in the face of the threat posed by COVID-19.

3. Loewe uses short film in publications on its social networks to publicize the brand. Loewe has taken advantage of this audiovisual element to quickly convey what it wants to transmit and particularly to communicate the brand’s spirit and values.

4. Loewe manifests the artisan production process to the public and, in this way, adds the value of its artisans’ talent to the brand. The brand intends to show its constant search for references, techniques, craftsmen, and their contribution to the remodeling of the industry. Without a doubt, Loewe wants to be perceived as a refined brand that protects and emphasizes craftsmanship.

5. For Loewe, the use of hashtags serves as a voice for the brand and redefines the way in which consumers interact with the brand. In its daily communications, for the launch of new products, or to attract potential customers, the use of hashtags broadens the reach of the brand and expands it to new ground.

6. The use of links and hyperlinks reflects the brand's need to create community and interactivity with its consumers, especially young people who are accustomed to using social networks and to active participation in brand equity creation. These resources increase product and content visibility, and their use on social networks optimizes search engines, producing greater audience engagement.

7. Loewe makes proper use of brand ambassadors as a means of recommendation and a way of building the brand’s image on social networks. They mainly rely on actors, artists, designers and models; these brand ambassadors facilitate the process by which the brand’s image takes root among relevant consumers and network users’ cultural interests.

8. Launching limited editions is also one of Loewe's preferred activities; by doing so, they offer an exclusive product that enhances the brand’s image. The brand has proven that limited edition products are more valuable than ordinary ones, thus fomenting the desire to own them, which is motivated by principles of scarcity and exclusivity and inserted in the very nature of luxury.

9. Social responsibility as an intangible asset capable of creating brand equity is essential for Loewe: it does so when it assumes responsibility for manufacturing masks, supports environmental protection ideas and donates funds to support associations that protect children. All of this undoubtedly favors the establishment of a good brand image, which then becomes an intangible asset and competitive advantage, providing potential long-term benefits. As a new component of corporate culture, corporate social responsibility has reshaped and innovated Loewe's cultural values, and promoted brand building.

5. Conclusion

This article highlights the brand equity that a solid digital communication strategy can reinforce. The findings affirm that fashion brands seeking to be successful must deliver innovative components to increase brand equity and foster customer loyalty.

Brands can use new digital options to increase their visibility and recognition among consumers and thus initiate or improve relationships that create value.

For the case analyzed herein, Loewe’s value creation comes from establishing an “ecosystem of meaning” that centers on culture; it aims to associate the brand with values such as craftsmanship, creativity, manufacturing, handmade goods and originality, to mention just a few. In this way, the brand seeks to identify its personality with that of its consumers.

We emphasize that BE seems to have a direct connection with communication strategy and the methods or tools used in its application. This includes the use of social networks, the reformulation of fashion shows and the new use of limited editions, the creation of brand engagement through links and hashtags, and consumer co-creation. All this contributes to the brand reaching its goals and redefining its personality.

Even with the impact of COVID-19, which has presented all fashion brands with significant challenges, we can conclude that Loewe has taken advantage of this crisis to reinvent itself and remains at the forefront of this social and cultural phenomenon.

In terms of the limitations of this research, it is important to bear in mind that fashion brands take a long time to transform and reinvent themselves; for that transformation to ultimately take place, there must be a powerful element that drives change. This research was limited to analyzing data from 2020 and comparing it with 2019, which is too narrow to accurately understand the results of the reinvention process that Jonathan Anderson initiated.

To reach more definitive conclusions, future research should analyze the brand equity co-creation process with questionnaires.


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aDResearch ESIC International Journal of Communication Research. 27, e195.