There was a time when the London fashion week experience was available only to a select few.
Burberry set the trend in 2011 by sharing its looks on Twitter before the clothes appeared on the runway, and last September designer Jonathan Saunders collaborated with the shopping site Motilo to share his collection with consumers and allow them to pre-order garments. The site ModaOperandi takes things even further, making it possible for users to order clothes within hours of them first being seen on the catwalk.
Kate Phelan, Topshop's creative director, and Justin Cooke, the chain's chief marketing officer, will oversee a fashion show that will be delivered across Topshop's own website, YouTube and Google+. The access offered to online viewers is unparalleled. Cara Delevingne and Jourdan Dunn will wear outfits fitted with HD micro-cameras, giving home viewers a model's-eye view of everything from their first steps out on to the catwalk to the quick-change backstage. Google Hang Out events will allow people to speak directly with designers and fashion editors to discuss the show, and a Be the Buyer App will enable users to curate the collection and get tips from the buyers on how to put looks together.
It is a complete reimagining of the way a fashion show is done. As Cooke says: "We want to connect with the emotional side of the show."
"I think it is fantastic that fashion is no longer an elitist thing," says young designer Fred Butler, who also shows her London fashion week collections online. "What is important about the way Topshop is doing it is that the show remains central to the experience."
This is not the first digital innovation Topshop has made. In September 2012, the brand collaborated with Facebook for the London fashion week show of its premium Unique line. The link-up enabled two million of Topshop's digital users in 100 countries to view the show as it happened, share it instantly via their Facebook pages, download the music, and even buy the lipstick the models were wearing. It is the most watched live catwalk show ever.
Now the chain is hoping for even bigger things from its latest show (held at 3pm Sunday 17 February). "Consumers will again be able to download the music, buy the nail polish the models are wearing and click on the clothes to recolour them and pre-order them," says Cooke. "This has the potential to be digital wildfire."
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