How Consumers Are Leading The Charge at This Year’s Fashion Week

By Team Timebased 

London Fashion Week has come and gone, but many brands are still riding the ripple effect from this year’s A/W17 shows. For years, Fashion Week and all of its associated parties, dinners and installations have been closed events – reserved for the designer-heeled, sunglass-clad fashion editors and buyers. But that approach is starting to shift, as brands are focusing more on events, experiences and opportunities to attract their consumer-base and eschewing the press.

 

It is growing increasingly common for brands to show their collections to press privately in advance of the show itself. Christopher Bailey, creative director of Burberry, described his show as “A little more honest, a little less polished,” when speaking with the New York Times backstage. This points to a growing effort by glossy brands to be more accessible, authentic and attainable for the average shopper. And in the same way celebrities use platforms like Instagram and Snapchat to build their brands and connect directly with their fans, tech is increasingly the medium fashion houses are using to engage directly with a mass market. Whereas previously it took as long as six months for clothes to hit store shelves, collections can now reach the consumer directly via “buy now” functions on Twitter and Instagram. Equally, this year’s shows saw the introduction of one-hour post-runway clothing deliveries, as well as a focus on live streaming, street-style and innovative digital marketing campaigns.

 

How Are Brands Engaging With Their Consumers?
Brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Rebecca Minkoff, Martine Jarlgaard, Burberry and many others have adopted a “see now, buy now” model of immediacy, employing social media to disseminate their products. M&S made much of its creamy beige and jewel-toned AW collection available with a single click – courtesy of its Mayfair AW press show we produced in May. In fact, department stores in general are expected to benefit from an influx of visitors from over 70 countries dropping down in London for the five-day fashion week period. Elsewhere, playing on its show’s official theme of ‘Instant Gratification’, Tommy Hilfiger exercised virtual-reality experiences in its flagship stores. The TommyNow Snap app allowed those not there in person to watch the catwalk using augmented reality and later pose questions to the Hilfiger team directly via Facebook chat.

 

Topshop was the most verbose, posting more digital content throughout the week than any other brand. A backstage interview posted on Topshop’s Instagram with campaign-face Hailey Baldwin received more than 100,000 views and ultimately directed engagers to Topshop’s website to shop the collection. Elsewhere, Amazon partnered with Nicopanda – the brand whose creative director rose to fame by designing Lady Gaga’s meat dress – offering one-hour deliveries post show.

 

What Makes This Shift Relevant? 
Campaigns like these aim to make brands more relevant and relatable; it’s an opportunity to speak directly to the consumer and target a wider and younger audience. It also plays into the millennial need for instantaneous results; there’s little delay between seeing an item and owning it. Previously an event like London Fashion Week was focused on exclusivity and scarcity– now the purpose is much more commercial, providing consumers with various touch points and activations that will ultimately lead to purchases and preferably en-mass. There’s also a marked focus on experiential engagement with brands – Estee Lauder has recently launched its “Estee Edit” – attractive standalone boutiques dotted around London offering a considered selection of products.

 

Similarly, River Island made its debut at the London Fashion Week Festival, through a curated series of events that lent heavily on customer and influencer engagement. Over four days, 20,000 young trendsetters immersed themselves in the world of Ashish - designs typically reserved for high-end retailers like Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion – through a witty new collaboration with River Island.

 

 Brands are no longer static monoliths but agile and relatable. The result is that the brand and the consumer are much more intricately linked. As for the future, perhaps at next season’s shows the consumer will drive the content entirely, ensuring that what’s on the runway is what they ultimately want to see in shop windows across London.

 

 

River Island x Ashish
M&S AW17 Press Show
London Fashion Week SS16: Sunglass Hut Tea Party
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