Here’s why fashion brands need to commit to digital through every level of the business

As London Fashion Week comes to a close, and fashionandmash marks its first full season, I can’t help but think about the phenomenal pace of change surrounding the way in which the industry has embraced all things digital throughout 2011 so far.

This blog started because of my personal obsession with the crossroads of fashion and technology and a desire to both track and push the increasing convergence of the two.

Within just seven months (from the eve of LFW past), I’ve gone from posting about the same old list of familiar ‘savvy’ brands – Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton – to almost being overwhelmed with how many potential stories I could run from across every level of the industry.

In the past week alone, French Connection has teamed with Google Goggles, Gucci is launching an interactive and immersive in-store experience in time for Milan Fashion Week, and Net-a-Porter is continuing its use of Aurasma technology for its new autumn/winter campaign.

As I wrote for Mashable, LFW upped its game more than ever this season too.

From high street retail to the upper echelons of luxury design, innovative digital initiatives are popping up all over the place.

Don’t get me wrong, as I mentioned when I set out with this, there’s still a long way to go. But the sense of experimentation being adopted by fashion now more than ever is what’s pleasing to see.

So what comes next? How do brands – and particularly those in the luxury sector – continue with this tech-enabled, access-all-areas love affair in order to seem modern, and yet not erode that sense of exclusivity so important to the very essence of their beings? Or in other words, how do they respond to that same question that put them off embarking on this journey in the first place.

The answer is simple: quality.

As renowned art director Fabien Baron was recently quoted in a (brilliant) AdWeek feature, as saying: “A lot of brands say, ‘We need a film [to put online]—something quick, [like] a behind-the-scenes.’ And they do it over-the-shoulder, poorly produced, and the quality of the job is not as high as the print ad. So what starts to happen is that they have a message that is diluted, even from the brands themselves.”

In his opinion, the solution is to make brands live the same luxe life digitally that they do in print or on billboards.

In reality therefore, the answer to the aforementioned question, is actually commitment.

Brands now need to realise that digital is not just a sideline experiment that can be satisfied with the odd tweet or behind-the-scenes posting when a push around something more innovative is not at play. Instead, today it’s a layer that both sits with and surrounds every other marketing activity of the brand and accordingly it needs a dedication to it from the highest level of the business.

Speaking at ad:tech London yesterday, Marc de Swaan Arons, chairman of Effective Brands said (about social media particularly) everyone in the team will be a brand ambassador in the future. “Assume you have to get everyone on board, and build a roadmap to get there,” he said.

In essence, only when everyone is on the same page can a brand truly achieve the quality needed to portray itself as well in the online space as it does in the offline one.

By Rachel Arthur

Rachel Arthur is Editor-in-Chief of Current Daily, the leading news source for fashion, retail and innovation, and the co-host of its weekly Innovators podcast. She otherwise serves as Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Current Global, a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion luxury and retail. By background she is an award-winning business journalist and consultant, contributing to titles including Wired, Forbes and Business of Fashion.

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