London Fashion Week: your digital preview

This article first appeared on Mashable

Once again, London Fashion Week is aiming to prove it has just as much muscle in the digital department as its counterpart in New York.

Innovation kicks off at Topshop. Newly installed chief marketing officer Justin Cooke, formerly vice president of public relations at Burberry, has developed an interactive, shoppable livestream experience for its Unique show on Sunday afternoon.

On, viewers will be able to browse product shots and color options for certain apparel and accessories as they come down the catwalk. Viewers can then place orders for delivery in six to eight weeks. Beauty products worn on the catwalk will likewise be available for purchase with delivery in 48 hours. And each look will be instantly shareable with Facebook friends thanks to a “shoot the show” feature developed in conjunction with Facebook engineers.

Jonathan Saunders is similarly offering fans the chance to pre-order his collection, this time on social platform Motilo, which allows users to shop together through live video and chat.

Ten of the looks from Saunders’s Spring/Summer 2013 line will be made available immediately following the livestream, which is being hosted in a specially-created hub on the Motilo site.

Visual diaries

The British Fashion Council (BFC) will be hosting livestreams of 47 shows at this season, including those showing apart from the main catwalk venues, such as Christopher Kane, Mulberry and Paul Smith. The BFC’s in-house team will also be narrating the LFW story with behind-the-scenes snapshots on Instagram via the “BritishFashionCouncil” account.

Meanwhile, designer Anya Hindmarch, taking inspiration from Oscar de la Renta‘s bridal and spring shows, is working with the BFC to bring fans all the live action of her show via Pinterest.

Her experience throughout London Fashion Week, as well as of her show itself on Tuesday, will be pinned to the BFC’s board, providing a real-time visual diary for fans to engage with. Inspiration shots, backstage prep, even seating plans and invitations — not to mention the collection as it hits — will all be included. The Osman show on Monday will also be live-pinned.

The recently relaunched Net-a-Porter Tumblr promises to give a comprehensive overview of Fashion Week from both the front row, the street and, increasingly, backstage. The e-commerce site’s Fashion Fix blog meanwhile is equally as strong, hosting all manner of daily video insights and editorial content about trends.

Blogger, illustrator and photographer Garance Doré is also creating a series of videos for Net-a-Porter from each city, introduced in New York with an inside look at her prep for the week, and continuing through London with a second release on Tuesday.

Expert commentary

For those looking for some more expert analysis and professional insight on the collections, the place to head is SHOWstudio. Here, an exciting dose of live commentary and conversation is taking place alongside the livestreams on a number of key shows.

Hosted by SHOWstudio’s Lou Stoppard and writer Camilla Morton, you’ll find panel discussions with fashion experts including journalists, stylists, buyers and image-makers. “It’s about communicating fashion in a raw, unedited and honest way… and bringing the excitement of the front row to a broader audience,” the team explains.

SHOWstudio founder and director, Nick Knight, adds, “There is so much potential to cover the fashion shows in an entertaining way that can involve and excite a huge range of people. Sport events, for example, are always explained to their public by a panel of ‘experts,’ whereas fashion is just presented as if its only audience is the industry. Fashion coverage is also so inoffensive; everyone is too scared to rock the boat. Any art form benefits from a strong and robust critical forum — including fashion.”

Whistles CEO Jane Sheperdson, writer Colin McDowell, filmmaker Ruth Hogben, artist Daphne Guinness and more will all be featured. The initiative is occurring throughout fashion month (so New York, Milan and Paris too) from the company’s headquarters in London. LFW will see three shows covered: Burberry, Christopher Kane and Fashion East.

The BFC is looking to Twitter as always too, continuing its #AskLFW conversations from @LondonFashionWk with guest tweeters this season, including New York socialite Olivia Palermo, designers Matthew Williamson and Roksanda Ilincic, and Grazia magazine’s style director (and soon-to-be fashion director at Harvey Nichols), Paula Reed.

Geo-tracked transport

And finally, Vodafone is set to help LFW VIPs get about the city more easily throughout the week, thanks to an innovative bespoke app.

Each of the Mercedes-Benz cars VIPs travel in will include a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet pre-loaded with “fleet management technology” so they can track their progress in the city. In other words, they’ll be able to view their location and speed — similar to how you would on an airplane — in relation to the press and photographer buses, helping them judge how long they have until the next show begins.

As Rosanna Falconer, digital marketing executive at the BFC, explains, “It lets them know how quickly they need to be there, and whether they have time to stop off for that all-important cup of coffee.”

The app also includes a calendar of the show schedule, a list of PR contacts, a Twitter feed displaying relevant hashtags and a stream of post-show videos from YouTube. The initiative helps ensure those all-important attendees remain as on the ball so as to keep providing content for the rest of us.

Despite being a city largely comprised of young, independent designers — with therefore decidedly low budgets — London’s support network sees it once again upping its game for Spring/Summer 2013, cementing itself as a true contender in the digital space. Of course, we will have to see what Burberry has planned for us on Monday.

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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