A Twitch User's Response to Burberry's Spring Summer 2021 Show
On the 17th of September, luxury fashion entered the world of the video game streaming platform Twitch through the Spring/Summer 2021 Burberry show. Riccardo Tisci’s first collection post-lockdown reflected the thirst for freedom and loneliness many felt over the last seven months of quarantine – a quarantine which blessed Twitch with a 57% user increase in the first four weeks. A prosperous time for the streaming site, but is it the place for Burberry?
The attempt to democratise fashion by the chief marketing officer Rod Manley utilised the ‘squad stream’ feature Twitch offers, where multiple different streams all appear on the same screen – allowing an all-encompassing experience for the viewer. However this alongside the chat was too busy, the average viewer couldn’t focus on any one thing. One offering that it was “an experience best enjoyed with the chat off”. “Burberry has always been a brand of firsts,” Manley said in a statement regarding the partnership, and this was another first for the industry. However, it felt poorly done to the average Twitch user.
“Where am I?” and “What is happening?” echoed through the chat hundreds of times as many viewers were greeted with the show on the Twitch homepage. The out-of-place stream was placed front and centre, with any viewer who lingered on the homepage being counted as one of the 42,000 concurrent viewers. Incredible marketing for the London based fashion house, but the attempt to connect with Gen Z missed some of the key enchanting aspects of a Twitch stream.
“I feel like Twitch and fashion don’t belong in the same sentence,” one user said in chat, as I noticed Burberry’s choice to not utilise emotes, subscriptions, or channel points. These features often being used to support and more importantly interact with the streamer had been ignored. What on earth a Burberry emote could look like I am unsure of but it’d have been fun to flex my interest in high-end fashion in my regular streams.
Channel points are the thing that interests me most because it made clear this was not going to be a regular thing for the fashion brand. Channel points are free points a viewer accrues over the time watching a streamer, averagely 10 points just for passively watching with small 50 point drops every fifteen minutes for pressing a button. This on top of the 300 points you get for following a stream led to personally earning almost 400 for the stream as a whole. This not much in the grand scheme of things (I currently have 30,000 on my favourite channels) but it would have been interesting for these to have been utilised in some way to interact with the show.
The lack of interaction with chat was apparent as well. The stream opened with a discussion between Erykah Badu, Rosalía, Steve Lacy and Bella Hadid – but not with the 25,000 opening viewers. Despite the fact it was the busiest chat I have ever been a part of (even with the 120 seconds slow mode enabled) there was not one time chat actually felt like a part of anything. Manley said that he wanted the audience “to feel like they have a virtual seat at our live show.” which is exactly what it felt like – but still, it was disappointing.
Twitch’s global head of brand partnerships Adam Harris said in a statement regarding the show that one of the benefits of streaming a show live is that “people are able to simultaneously watch something and discuss it in real-time.”. Yet there was no discussion in between viewers in chat, there rarely is in the Twitch atmosphere since the aim is to talk to your favourite streamer – in fact, some of my favourite chat messages were offering to teach Burberry the ways of the space such as enabling add on BTTV to allow viewers to use some of the more popular emotes.
That the crux of this whole thing: Burberry streamed a beautiful show of beautiful clothes with several interesting camera angles but the whole thing felt out of place on Twitch. Twitch, as the tagline always tells you, is a VIDEO GAME streaming platform – so whilst it mechanically worked I am unsure regular Twitch users will ever be open to luxury fashion. Gen Z are well aware of the more than high-fashion would like with many individuals in chat calling Burberry out for; burning millions of dollars of their clothes, the environmental impact of fashion, the price of high fashion, the lack of size inclusivity, and the pretentious appearance of the whole scene.
Harris told Vogue Business that “we’ve got a platform where they voluntarily lean in and engage. It’s pull content rather than push.”. However, Gen Z can barely afford to rent a place to live, the majority of those viewers you ‘pull’ are not the target market of Burberry. Especially on a site where many of the viewers come along to watch a twenty-something guy play a game and get mad. Chat pointed this out, over and over, but no one is listening. With many business sites praising this show and the use of Twitch, the very people Burberry were interested in connecting with are telling you that “there is one in a hundred here who could actually afford Burberry lol… so pointless.”. “After watching this I have decided I am never going to be buying anything from Burberry.”. “How can you be so pretentious talking about being connected to everything and at the same time be so disconnected from most people and reality?”.
Because that’s what this was; disconnected. I am not saying Gen Z are not interested in luxury fashion, I know and the stats prove that many are. What we are saying is that Twitch viewers are often part of the group that is not. Where positive messages were praising the innovation and use of the platform, there would one person confused and one genuine criticism to match. Vogue Business compared this to the success of merch lines released by popular streamers, but the two are simply not comparable. People will buy merchandise to support and represent their favourite streamers, not for the same reason they would invest in Burberry. They are not comparable items, not in price, aesthetic, or presentation – so whilst my favourite streamers can afford Burberry and some of them do buy it, I cannot afford it and wouldn’t invest in it – all of this coming from someone on a Fashion degree. I am not your average Twitch viewer.
Streaming fashion as a whole is incredible, it makes fashion shows no longer something for those with notoriety, something exclusive and hidden away. I am all for a more democratic fashion industry, where I can from the safety own home watch Moschino, or Burberry, or Chanel. Where I can criticise and adore luxury fashion as it comes down that runway. And whilst Twitch has wonderful features that made the Burberry show interesting, I don’t think Twitch is the place for it – not yet at least, and likely not ever.