Topshop is partnering with a start-up called Chirp for its upcoming Unique show at London Fashion Week in order to share pieces of content via sound with those in attendance.
Chirp is an iPhone app that refers to itself as a “magical new way to share your stuff”. Essentially it encrypts pictures, notes or links as a type of “digital birdsong” – users post their content, then hit a big yellow button to emit a unique 20-note chirp, which other devices running the app nearby can pick up.
Here’s its own explanation of how it works: “You can think of a chirp as a tiny piece of music. Each chirp lasts about two seconds. The system listens out for a couple of dozen notes played rapidly in a certain order, within a certain range, at a certain speed. The audio engine tries to decode the sequence of notes into a sequence of letters which our server understands. The server then returns a link to the user so they can go wherever the short code points: to a webpage, say. This decode all happens in realtime on your phone.” A more technical introduction can also be found on its website.
What all this means is that users don’t need to login and follow Topshop to be able to receive the content, rather by being in proximity (i.e. at the show) they will be able to simply “hear the data” when they’re running the app. The retailer will be sending out images from several Chirp locations around the site, ranging from shots of the pattern room where the clothes were made, to the collection backstage, the hair and make-up tests, and the models walking down the catwalk. It has also added a new and unique aspect to the application whereby tapping on each image will flip it around to reveal more info and extra content.
Further reading shows Chirps can also work over PA systems, as well as in YouTube videos, meaning Topshop could potentially share the same pieces of content with anyone listening from home.
Its website however will host a gallery of the images so anyone tuning into the live-stream can also see them. As below, they will sit atop additional content pulled from Twitter from both the brand’s own account and from key fashion insiders it has asked to contribute from front row and backstage.
Meanwhile, its Oxford Circus store will feature a Chirp and Twitter Garden full of digital content for shoppers to explore (as the picture above demonstrates).
“Each season, we set ourselves the challenge to innovate and excite in a different way with the Unique show; not only in terms of our collection and show space, but also how to engage with and involve Topshop fans worldwide. The link with Chirp is fun and we love the fact that it allows people to discover new aspects of the collection and what goes on behind the scenes at Unique through creating iconic images to story tell,” said Sir Philip Green.
Topshop has of course previously made its mark in the digital space by teaming up with mega-tech companies including Google and Facebook around its collections. But it says this move is all about supporting emerging talent – taking the same approach it has with burgeoning young designers for instance, to what it believes is a pioneering new app.
Its team members told me they’re “experimenting with something that’s new”, “just having a bit of a play” and “seeing what they can get out of it”.
The brand will also be continuing its Customise the Catwalk and Shoot the Show initiatives, as well as offering followers the option to download the show’s soundtrack from iTunes and click to buy the make-up looks. Check out its trailer for the event below: