Fashion brand Coperni broke the internet last week at Paris Fashion Week with a live performance that saw technology and fashion collide, inspiring wonder for the future of fashion. By now the video of Bella Hadid’s sprayed dress has circulated around the internet and is one of the viral moments dominating discussion surrounding Paris Fashion Week. The brand is receiving a lot of publicity, but whether or not it will help for long-term growth or simply be forgotten as a marketing stunt is yet to be seen.
Established in 2013 by designers Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant, Coperni appeals to the it-girls of Paris with their chic, minimalist clothing and bags. The duo chose to name the brand after Prussian astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, whose discovery of the sun as the centre of the universe created a huge revolution. Inspired by technology, futurism and light, their mission setting out was to create garments that incorporated technology through its construction. They first hit major success with their Swipe Bag, resembling an iPhone’s swipe to unlock function. Introduced in the duo’s Fall/Winter 2019 collection, it was quickly picked up by celebrities like Dua Lipa. Two years later they reignited buzz by creating a glass version of the Swipe, which was then promoted in the spotlight by Doja Cat and Kylie Jenner.
The brand has done incredibly well for a new brand in an industry dominated by giants. “Before it wasn’t possible for an independent brand to reach €200-300 million, but now I think it is possible for a brand like Coperni,” says Stefan Martinetto, CEO of fashion accelerator Tomorrow who backed Coperni in the beginning stages. In an interview with Vogue Business, the duo agreed that innovative novelty items and viral celebrity moments are central to Coperni’s business as a means to garner attention within the fashion industry and shine a spotlight on themselves. The duo are actively targeting a younger generation of luxury consumers, and the stunts and celebrity placements appeal to Gen Z and TikTok audiences. Because fashion writing is highly discouraged from mainstream news media, fashion designers turn to artistic performances and marketing stunts to spread awareness of their shows. TikTok’s highly visual platform and fashion-obsessed communities are the perfect marketplace for fashion brands to reach their audiences, and Coperni’s futuristic yet affordable designer pieces have become massively successful among luxury Gen Z consumers.
But the danger for brands that rely on celebrities and viral moments to push their brand is that it reveals that they might not have anything fresh, new or creative to promote. And in deconstructing Coperni’s spray dress moment, it was revealed that the spray-on technology was developed in 2009 by Manel Torres, founder of Fabrican - hardly the new, innovative technological development it was made out to appear as. Coperni as a brand has been relying on iterations of its one highly successful product and celebrity features, however falls flat when it comes to establishing itself as an ongoing and innovative brand. “We’re not going to make money on this, but it’s a beautiful moment — an experience that creates emotions,” says Creative Director Sebastien Meyers. Whilst they have no intention of producing and monetising clothing using Fabrican, the marketing stunt was designed to seal younger luxury consumers’ interest in the brand.
Whilst the sentiment of all publicity as good publicity is certainly debatable, what’s important is what happens next - maintaining the success from their viral attention. Performance marketing for short-term success is highly effective and delivers immediate impact, but is only short-lived. When paired with long-term brand building activities, it creates an effective and cohesive strategy.