'World of Karl' takes a Tumblr approach to Karl Lagerfeld's brand

Karl Lagerfeld has made a name for himself as head designer and creative director at Chanel. But his own namesake brand shows off the man behind Chanel’s more eccentric side, shilling T-shirts and handbags printed with cartoon robot versions of Lagerfeld and his cat, Choupette.

The differences between Chanel and the designer’s personal line don’t end with the fashion. In launching Karl.com, the Karl Lagerfeld brand’s e-commerce site, the company has taken a hard and fast approach. Rather than worry about commodifying the high-end fashion it’s selling with an overtly social experience, Karl.com’s immersive “World of Karl” experience aims to bring the customer into the Karl Lagerfeld brand through video clips, tweets, and photos in the form of a Tumblr-like feed.

Karl.com launched in November, intially for an exclusive, and particular, audience: The first items from Lagerfeld’s brand were available through e-commerce only on Kim Kardashian’s Hollywood mobile game. As the player tries to get ahead in the game’s world, they encounter a cast of characters, including a white-ponytailed cameo by Lagerfeld.

After releasing 20 items from his fall collection in Kardashian’s virtual boutique, the items were available through an exclusive link for players to shop online at Karl.com. The website itself launched shortly after.

“The response was overwhelmingly positive — our players always interact with the brands Kim loves, and the collection sold out on the site,” said Niccolo de Masi, chairman and CEO of Glu Mobile, the gaming company that powers Kardashian’s app.

Karl.com continued to turn Lagerfeld’s likeness into a “character” on his e-commerce site. Nine-second videos of the cartoon Lagerfeld and Choupette regularly appear in the “World of Karl” tab, showing quick clips of the two performing activities, like taking a selfie. An Instagram video featuring dancing Karl “robots” ran in the World of Karl feed, pointing followers to find all the characters in the e-commerce store. Each piece of content directs customers to the “shop” tab on the site.

Karl robots are invading KARL.com Find them all on www.KARL.com and in stores now! #KARLROBOT #KARLLAGERFELD

A video posted by KARL LAGERFELD (@karllagerfeld) on

In February, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood won a North American Excellence Award for the integration of Karl Lagerfeld’s character. The game has also incorporated shoppable collections from Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing and Judith Leiber.

Apart from the fashion houses they work for, creative designers have been carving out their personal brands using social media. Rousteing, a close friend of the Kardashians, has 2.4 million Instagram followers, and Michael Kors and Marc Jacobs — the men, not the brand — have become stars of their feeds as well. Isaac Mizrahi and Diane Von Furstenberg have lent their brands and likeness to reality TV shows.

“Through social, consumers are getting an access to luxury brands in a much more democratic way. You can now access brand on Instagram, and this provides access in a more human and personal way,” said Ruth Bernstein, founder of creative agency Yard. “Millennials are hungry for images and musings every five seconds.”

Lagerfeld’s “World of Karl” is known for its musings, providing a peek into the Chanel designer’s sensibilities — before it was a tab on his website, it was a book and series of videos. With his own brand, that side takes front-and-center, cut by a loading image of Lagerfeld’s black sunglasses in GIF form.