London Fashion Week 2016: Everyone’s invited
Gone are the days of VIP fashion launches where only a select number of buyers and influencers could get a glimpse of the latest collections. The rise of digital has enabled fashion houses to transform what was previously an exclusive experience confined by location, to a large-scale event available to countless participants around the world. This advance in technology has expanded the reach of the fashion industry and dramatically changed the way fashion outlets interact with consumers.
In the UK, with a domestic market value of £66 billion, the fashion industry means business. Technology has played an undeniable role in its growth – be that through the rise of e-commerce, data-driven product design or social media marketing. We are seeing both local and global brands, including big names such as Burberry and Victoria’s Secret, innovating through digital, to market collections to a much wider audience and build a trusted network of fashionista fans.
This year we will continue to see more integration and personalisation with online audiences, as brands fight to secure the bid of the buyer and continue to blend consumers’ online and offline experiences with a seamless and personalised touch.
Breaking down geographical boundaries
With a plethora of apps and online sites now available, consumers are spoilt for choice when it comes to keeping up with the latest ranges from this year’s show. Designed to drive engagement, brand loyalty and sales, apps are a key tool for fashion brands and have revolutionised the fashion industry in recent years. Customers no longer need to be physically present to view Fashion Week – they can do this from anywhere through any number of mobile devices. Location is no longer a barrier for engaging.
With apps such as Vogue Runway and Moda Operandi now helping to connect fashion brands with fans, the connection between the fashion outlet and the consumer has never been stronger. Real-time updates are shared as new and exciting product lines hit the runway. Access to over 12,000 collections is provided and more than one million runway looks are available, all with the click of an icon on a mobile phone.
The result is that brands now have the opportunity to completely understand their fans better than ever — a key component to success in the modern fashion world. As online platforms become the primary engagement channel, data from these services can be used to better understand customer behaviour around key periods such as London Fashion Week, allowing them to better tailor their offering to suit customer needs.
Engaging the masses
Live streaming is now considered the norm for large-scale fashion events. London Fashion Week, along with other large international shows including Tom Ford and New York Fashion Week will all be live-streamed this year. In addition, we have seen platforms such as Twitter’s Periscope and Facebook’s Livestream assist their growth into global, real-time events. Integrating with these technologies now allows spectators to interact with the event in new ways, gain instant feedback during the show, and feel a part of the brand experience.
Fashion outlets are also now heavily integrating technology into their runway experiences through social media. Burberry for example has partnered with Twitter this year at London Fashion week, allowing users to engage personally with the brand using #Tweetcam. Any tweets containing #tweetcam and @burberry will trigger the camera on the runway to take a photograph which is then tweeted back to the user. Earlier this year at New York Fashion Week, Banana Republic also gave consumers the chance to purchase items on the website directly after they had been displayed on the runway. Outside the runway, online services such as Thread – a one-stop online shop which provides shoppers with their own personal stylist – are providing other ways of disrupting the norm.
These digitally powered experiences shift the nature of interaction between brand and consumer. The dynamic shifts from a one-way consumption model, to a two-way interaction where both parties see value. By Allowing the consumer to express their views, while allowing the brand to react to this feedback, this creates the open dialogue required to excel in the new age of digital fashion.
Adding the personal touch
Digital innovation is pushing the fashion industry faster than ever and as in every scenario there will be winners and losers. Brands are racing to ensure they are able to provide the most personal and on-target approach to consumers – if they don’t, their competitors will.
The fashion outlets that rise above the rest will be those able to marry fashion launches and other events with every other customer touchpoint, providing a seamless experience for the audience. As fashion and tech industries continue to overlap, it will be the brands that offer a personalised and uninterrupted experience that win the hearts and minds of the consumers.
John Rakowski is director of technology strategy at AppDynamics.