There will always be winners and losers in fashion retailing, and while it’s no secret that e-commerce is one of the fastest growing industries worldwide, businesses such as ASOS, Net-a-Porter and My-Wardrobe are still reporting losses whether it be from international expansion, magazine launches or factory fires. (link to story) But this is nothing new in the high and lows of modern retailing. What is getting us excited is the new technology craze taking the fashion world by storm.
Here at The Chic Stirrer we love to shop, we love fashion and we love technology. So this season’s London Fashion Week had us scrambling for our phones, tablets and whatever else was streaming the action as it happened (and even before it happened). The fashion community, especially in London, is known for taking risks and now they are doing it with technology. Digitally savvy brands are seeking out new and innovative ways to engage audiences both inside and outside the LFW tents.
Social media has become part of the very fabric of LFW thanks in part to the goddess of e-commerce and new BFC chairman Natalie Massenet leading the charge in promoting digital innovation. Massenet opened London Fashion Week heralding the week as a time for digital innovation across the industry. Paris may well wear the crown as capital of couture fashion but London leads the way in high tech fashion.
She said the need to embrace digital was crucial. When the BFC launched their digital campaign within the industry a year ago, 33% of designers had e-commerce websites. That figure has grown to 43%. “Our target is 100%. And I believe we will get there,” said Massenet.
This meant that over a period of a few days we saw explosive social media campaigns from fashion powerhouses Burberry and TopShop. Burberry’s LFW show was streamed on Twitter, Facebook and on its own website so fans had no excuse not to tune in. This coincided with Twitter’s US launch of the new ‘buy’ button with Burberry – the prospect of which had all of us in the MLPR office tweeting for joy.
Topshop’s social channels were also working overtime, posting images, videos and blog posts to promote its fashion shows, as well as a social catwalk on Instagram and Facebook, while model Hailey Baldwin debuted three outfits in a video on Facebook before they even appeared on the catwalk.
Alongside this was a live link to Google’s Peter Fitzgerald at Massenet’s opening speech and the timely launch of Apple’s watch with an invitation to Apple HQ for the leading fashion press to attend a private launch… it’s clear to see how these relationships are going to develop!
Meanwhile there is always some scaremongering story about the state of fashion retailing. When e-commerce took off many predicted the end of physical stores and masses of column inches were dedicated to the subject of ‘bricks vs clicks’. In fact, the most successful brands work all channels seamlessly together to offer consumers the choice, experience and service they want. Perhaps we need talk of doom and gloom to motivate us, to spur us on in the face of adversity, to face new challenges head on, to innovate and continue to tell stories that are exciting and relevant to multiple audiences in signature British manner.
Part of the reason for connecting with consumers on social media is that it is largely accessed through mobile devices. More than 70 per cent of Facebook activity is now via mobile. Twitter and Instagram mean consumers can browse cutting-edge looks straight from the catwalk. But the fashion industry’s use of technology is not just about engaging, it is also about persuading customers to buy.
And that’s what it seems the best of the best are doing. Brands are showing resilience and innovation as they develop strategies to ensure growth, and essentially customer choice. Fashion tech is no fad; this is one trend that is here to stay and one bandwagon to jump on to.