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How tech stole the show at fashion week

‘See-now, buy-now’ and virtual reality are in vogue at fashion week as brands seek to engage with consumers beyond the catwalk.

Tech fashion week gigi hadid
Gigi Hadid models for Tommy Hilfiger at New York Fashion Week. Photograph: Andrew Kelly/Reuters

As fashion weeks become increasingly aimed at consumers, designers are using all sorts of digital means to reach broader potential audiences and drive sales.

In practice, that means many of the shows so far this season have been focused on attracting more public fanfare than ever before, with shopping embedded in the experience. During New York Fashion Week, for instance, Tommy Hilfiger hosted a two-day carnival complete with 40ft ferris wheel, food stands, pop-up shops and more, all of it designed to support the launch of the brand’s collaboration with supermodel Gigi Hadid. And yes, you could buy the range there and then, as well as online.

In London, Burberry juxtaposed craftsmanship with digital savvy. It introduced a week-long public exhibition and series of activities in collaboration with The New Craftsmen in a pop-up space called the Makers House. Alongside that was the fact that its entire line was immediately shoppable, ranging from the clothing to accessories and even make-up.

At the heart of such strategies is the fact that digital has overturned what fashion week is fundamentally about. Once a trade-only affair, it has become increasingly consumer-led off the back of design houses opening up to social media audiences, and using their shows as significant marketing opportunities accordingly. The challenge lies in fact that the hype isn’t easily commercialised when fans can’t buy the looks until up to six months later.

This season has been about turning that on its head, reworking the very notion of the fashion system in order to meet consumer demand in real-time, and importantly doing so in the most innovative manner possible in a bid to stand out from the deafening noise such weeks bring.

Head over to The Guardian to read the full round-up of the big tech influencing this season’s shows, including the channels used to sell the products on, the chatbots being introduced, the battle between Instagram and Snapchat Stories, and the virtual reality and augmented reality promotional moves being made.

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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