For Tommy Hilfiger’s New York Fashion Week show, the brand pulled out all the stops at “Tommy Pier,” the carnival-runway show Friday that placed the newest collection with Gigi Hadid on a runway at the center of a spectacle of rides, games and fair food.
It’s sure to be the biggest spectacle of fashion week, but Tommy Hilfiger isn’t done taking buzzworthy strides to push sales of the Tommy x Gigi collection, its first see-now-buy-now effort. Over the weekend, the brand launched Facebook Messenger’s first “fashion bot” to provide a guided shopping experience through the new collection using artificial intelligence.
To try the chatbot, which the brand and Facebook Messenger have named “TMY.GRL,” users can find the “message” button on Tommy Hilfiger’s Facebook page, or follow a QR code on mobile. When a customer selects “Get Started,” Tommy Girl-bot starts a conversation, asking if you’ve come to “see the new nautical looks from #TommyxGigi.” Assuming you answer yes, the bot rattles off more information about the collection, some “#gigifunfacts” and asks more prompts to narrow down what you’re looking for. Through Facebook’s carousel, you can scroll through all the product categories and individual items within the chat. Other bot integrations let users ask questions (the Tommy Hilfiger team programmed it with 7,000 responses) and view behind the scenes content from the runway show.
The Tommy Girl bot is the biggest fashion step for the tool since retail platform Spring launched Shop Spring, its shopping assistant chatbot at Facebook’s F8 developer conference in April. The Shop Spring bot is meant to help shoppers search for products to buy from its 1,000-plus brands, but personal style proved to be too nuanced for a young AI bot to decipher. Shop Spring is still live, but it’s been largely panned as a confusing and arduous customer service tool.
Tommy Girl, however, has one of the fashion season’s most attention-driving events to piggyback on.
“What Tommy Hilfiger did that was interesting was tie its bot to see-now-buy-now,” said Neda Whitney, group account director at agency R/GA. “Other bots were service-based, but linking one to a readily available fashion week collection, and making it specific to that, brings up a new avenue for communication. It’s going to drive a lot of awareness.”
On social media, the Tommy Pier event drove the massive amounts of engagement that was to be expected through the combination of spectacle and star power. The hashtag #TommyxGigi has registered 670 million impressions, and #TommyNow, indicative of the on-sale collection, has seen 570 million impressions, according to Brandwatch data.
The big question was whether that engagement would translate into sales, and online, the TommyxGigi collection appears to be moving. Items at all different price points have sold out on Tommy.com, including the $65 nautical cap, the $295 sweater dress and the $395 wool cape. A $700 moto jacket is currently available in only two sizes. (Tommy Hilfiger parent PVH Corporation didn’t respond to a request around sales results.)
The Tommy Girl chatbot isn’t likely to be responsible for driving a bulk of those sales, but Whitney said that even if customers don’t descend upon the bot to shop, it’s learned behavior that’s to blame, or the lack thereof, rather than the technology itself. Chatbot technology is new enough that people are still learning about it and learning how to use it.
“Bots are still such a new space that we still have to see how customers react and grow with it, but there’s a lot of room for brands to start that,” said Whitney. “Fashion and luxury brands like Tommy Hilfiger adopting this type of technology is really interesting and exciting, though. Anything you can do to spend some time with your brand is always a smart move.”
Whitney said that Tommy Hilfiger can move this tool beyond gimmick-territory in the coming months, after the noise of fashion week and see-now-buy-now has died down, by sticking with it and maintaining its personality and engagement element. For its part, Facebook is still working to improve certain functions of the chatbots, like checkout: Right now, transactions are conducted on the brand’s website, removing the user from the experience.