Ex-DKNY top marketer Aliza Licht: ‘Fashion is in a midlife crisis’

When Aliza Licht left her post at DKNY in December, a social media era came to a close.

Licht, the svp of global communications at the brand from 1998 to 2015, spearheaded DKNY’s forays into various social platforms as they emerged. But the brand found its voice most readily on Twitter, where Licht tweeted from the brand’s account under the handle @DKNYPRGirl. Her approach was to engage with fans by sharing behind-the-scene looks at the fashion brand from an insider’s point of view, not as the “voice” of a brand or as Donna Karan. The account grew to reach 600,000 followers and became an example of how to master an authentic brand voice on Twitter.

Now, Licht’s newest gig is serving on the board of Launchmetrics, a fashion technology platform that lets brands digitally manage their product samples, press materials and event invitations, as well as discover and manage influencer relationships.

“DKNY was the company’s second client,” said Licht. “We needed a tool to make us more efficient and more productive, and [founder Eddie Mullon] had the tech expertise, so understanding the fashion industry was where I came in.”

Launchmetrics most recently launched an Apple Watch integration for fashion week attendees who wanted access to press materials, show reminders, and expedited entry ready at their wrists. As technology continues to evolve, the company plans to stay ahead of what’s most useful for the fashion industry.

We talked to Licht about digital’s increasing role in fashion, the expectancy of see now, buy now and her relationship with social media post-@DKNYPRGirl.

Launchmetrics works with fashion brands to get the right audience into their shows. Why is that a necessary service?

If you’re filling my seat, you have a responsibility to say and share something [about the show], good or bad. Launchmetrics invites the correct people and makes sure those people have the right audience to propel the awareness out into the world. Moving forward, brands are going to be experimental in how and when they show their collections. If they’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars pulling off these shows, that’s a huge investment, so they have to see what they’re getting out of it. Nobody has money to waste.

Did you anticipate fashion’s shift toward the see-now-buy-now model?

I’m not a personal believer in showing the collection that way. It’s a really difficult sell after conditioning people for years and years to wait for things, and then to all of a sudden say, “Forget that, we’re going to show you today and expect you to buy it tomorrow.” I think that waiting for a collection does increase desirability and the luxury factor.

What should brands be prioritizing instead?

Ultimately, fashion is in a midlife crisis. This is going to be the time when brands have to stick with their DNA, and their purpose, and stay strong with that message. The whole “me too,” jumping on the bandwagon, is how brands are diluted.

Do you think brands risk dilution if they’re present across digital platforms?

I’ve always had an early-adopter mentality because I’m comfortable experimenting and also comfortable failing. You have to have a certain stomach for it. We were one of the first fashion brands on Twitter and that paid off. Other platforms that we tried, I didn’t really have a passion for. My mentality is passion over obligation so I didn’t continue with those platforms. You can’t be everywhere.

What about Instagram?
Instagram’s algorithm is going to make it a lot easier for brands to say, “We don’t need to create as much content as we used to; we need to create the right content and focus on putting money behind it to get it out there.” These changes are really to the benefit of the brand because the content machine that we’ve seen for the past couple years is the beast that’s never full.

How has your relationship with social media changed after DKNY?

I still love Twitter just the same and I use it all day, every day. It is still the number one way to generate engagement and grow your reach outside the network you already know. Instagram has been important for my new book [“Leave Your Mark“] in particular and that organic social has been amazing to watch and engage with. As for Snapchat, I’m newer to it and I would give myself a D rating on that. I’m not obsessed with it. I don’t need to broadcast my life all day.

Is there any new platform that you are obsessed with?

It’s hard to get obsessed with new tools. You get a bit fatigued. When Peach came out we all did it for three days and that was that. At DKNY, it was just me handling social, so I focused on the platform that I felt most passionate about. When you feel passionate about it, you come up with better content. If it’s an obligation and you need to push out content, your content suffers for it.

When you left DKNY, the brand’s social history on Twitter and Instagram was cleared. Then when Hedi Slimane left Yves Saint Laurent, the brand cleared its Instagram account. Is that the right way to handle creative director changes?
Erasing DKNY PR Girl from social history was something we discussed at length. It showed a shift change in the mentality of the brand and there was no other way to do it than to wipe the slate clean. When we did that, I told [the team], “Wait and see — this will be what other brands do when their creative directors change.” So I laughed when I saw what Saint Laurent did. I think fans just freak out a little.

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