London Fashion Week AW16 - Challenging Traditions and Embracing the Modern Digital World

Richard Dodgson
22 February 2016

London Fashion Week AW16 is only just kicking off and already we have witnessed some historic transformations. As technology and social media have become increasingly prominent parts of our daily lives, the way in which we interact with brands is changing and the fashion industry is being compelled to respond. Through the growth in technology London Fashion Week has become a consumer-facing event focused on capturing the attention of, and generating excitment amongst, the wider public, as opposed to creating an exclusive experience for a select few. Brands now need to challenge the more traditional approaches. Here we take a look at how technology is shaking up events in the fashion industry and how brands are responding.

How is technology changing London Fashion Week?
The fashion industry is time sensitive - when to reveal a new collection and what season to show are critical questions. Now it's all being rethought in-line with the immediacy of today's booming technology industry. Brands can now connect and interact directly with huge consumer audiences through social media channels and live streaming. It provides brands with the opportunity to engage with their target audience in an instant and it is this element of immediacy that a discerning customer now looks for, the ability to receive and digest information quickly. The consumer now interacts with brands via a two-way experience and this new dynamic needs to be incorporated into the experiences a brand creates at London Fashion Week.

How is fashion embracing technology?
Technology has made it easier to reach audiences far and wide and the fashion industry has recognised and responded to this opportunity. Interesting examples include the British Fashion Council's collaboration with Ocean Outdoor to show footage from last season's events and H&M showcasing their collections live on Periscope. Through technology, brands are offering their audiences a first-hand preview of their new collections and creating a buzz surrounding the release of the latest collections.

Burberry has become the first brand to announce that as a result of this ability to connect directly with the consumer they are altering their event schedule and purchase model dramatically, affecting how they engage with London Fashion Week. In contrast to the traditional seasonal events schedule which seperates menswear from womenswear and previews a collection up to 6 months before it is to be made available to the consumer, Burberry will now showcase these collections together, twice a year and it will be immediately available to purchase. This announcement has promoted other brands, including Tom Ford and Tommy Hilfiger, who will both be showcasing their collections in September to coincide with retail drops, to announce their similar intention to move towards a consumer-focused show schedule.

A noticeable shift - from buyers to consumers
As technological innovation has enabled the private and exclusive fashion events to become increasingly global spectacles, the role of the select VIP buyers and the media also changes. They still play a crucial part because editorial opinion is still valued, but they are no longer the key audience and this has a important impact on how the event is designed. Brands may choose to host a private show for the media and buyers separately to their consumer-focused event. The answer to this is yet to be seen but this is potentially another area where technology can benefit.

What is certain here is that the fashion industry is embracing technology and we are going to see more and more brands move towards a consumer-focused model. London Fashion Week will further demonstrate this shift and we're excited to witness the interaction between brands and their target consumers both online and through the digital experiences on offer at Brewer Street Car Park. For the first time, London Fashion Week will fully incorporate technological innovation into a series of live shows, underlining the importance of digital experiences at live fashion events and reinforcing London as a world-leader in the industry.

Originally published by The Huffington Post
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