Fashion brands are upping the stakes on innovation at London Fashion Week, with Burberry, Topshop, River Island and Hunter all competing to create the most groundbreaking digital platforms to showcase their designs and dial up social media buzz.
Burberry has teamed with Japanese social messaging app, Line, known for its cute, emoji-like character stickers. The two companies collaborated to create downloadable stickers of Vogue editor Anna Wintour, Burberry designer Christopher Bailey, photographer Mario Testino and British supermodel Cara Delevingne -- all dressed in the iconic Burberry checked pattern.
The deal was struck to underline Burberry's commitment to Japan, where it has 16 stores and will switch in June from working with a local licensee to managing its business directly there. Line claims to have more than 181 million monthly active users worldwide.
Bradley Quinn, creative director of trend consultancy Stylus Fashion, said, "Fashion is all about being seen, and the digital world is all about images, so the interface between the two is all about heightening visibility. Fashion brands have also realized that they need testimonials not just from supermodels in ads, but from people who have a good following on social media."
The emphasis on digital innovation may be partly motivated by the fact that Britain spends more money online per capita than any other developed country, according to U.K. communications regulator Ofcom. And fashion is the biggest online shopping category, with 70% of U.K. internet users buying clothes and footwear online, according to research firm Mintel.
In addition, the U.K. is forecast to become this year the first country where spending on digital advertising outstrips all traditional media categories combined, according to Strategy Analytics.
In another London Fashion Week move, U.K. retailer River Island has teamed up with Google and Mindshare to create a virtual reality experience for the launch of its new collection. River Island will hand out Google Cardboard headsets to everyone who buys something from the new collection. Using the headsets, customers can watch a 360-degree, fully immersive film after downloading an app.
Matt Andrews, chief strategy officer of Mindshare U.K., said in a statement, "The deal allows River Island to showcase its tech and fashion-forward credentials as the fashion and technology worlds grow even closer."
Out-of-home media is also showcasing its potential for innovation, with Ocean Outdoor hosting London Fashion Week campaigns for Topshop, and for Hunter, which is best known for its wellington boots but is now expanding into an outdoor clothing brand under the creative directorship of Stella McCartney's husband, Alasdhair Willis.
Hunter will live stream its show across nine large digital screens in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool and Glasgow. The same screens will continue to promote key looks from the collection on the days following the show, which will also be live streamed to a global audience via Facebook and Twitter.
Free Wi-Fi will be available around the outdoor screens, with Hunter taking over the landing page in a bid to increase awareness and drive traffic to the company's e-commerce site.
Cat Morgan, Ocean's head of creative solutions, said in a statement, "Hunter's live feed is framed by contextual content so people in each city know that what they are seeing is live and exclusive."
Topshop, also working with outdoor company Ocean, will use billboards to let passersby know which looks are trending during their catwalk show at the Tate Britain museum on Sunday, Feb. 22. The fast-fashion retailer has teamed up with Twitter and social marketing platform Stackla to analyze real time data and identify the trends as they emerge.
When key words show up, such as #utility, #pleats or #colourblocking, consumers who tweet @Topshop using one of the hashtags will receive a curated shopping list inspired by the trend.