Focusing on digital innovation

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LONDON Fashion Week (LFW) opened with a new push to boost online sales, as designers seek to turn the democratisation of the catwalk through live streaming and Twitter into cold, hard cash.

For five days, LFW will see more than 80 designers presenting their spring/summer collections — a showcase of creative talents from the likes of Burberry, Vivienne Westwood, Mary Katrantzou and Christopher Kane, including a one-off show by Marchesa.

More than 5,000 visitors are expected to attend, but as elsewhere, the abundance of live streaming, instant updates on Twitter and Instagram, and e-commerce sites, mean the latest looks are now available to anyone with an Internet connection.

Bigger and more established names in New York, Paris and Milan, are all seizing on the sales opportunity this presents.

But like a teenager showing her parents how to use the latest smartphone, London — traditionally, the young upstart of the fashion world — intends to lead the way.

“London is set to be the most tech-savvy fashion capital in the world,” said Natalie Massenet, the chairman of the British Fashion Council (BFC) and founder of designer fashion portal Net-a-Porter.com.

“And the overall aim is to drive sales.”

The BFC, which organises London Fashion Week, has enlisted Internet giant Google to help in its efforts to get designers to boost their online presence, and a raft of new initiatives are planned.

Today, Burberry Prorsum will immediately sell the nail varnish used in its runway show, direct to Twitter users, while fans of House of Holland will be able to watch Saturday’s show live online and try the clothes on their very own digital avatar.

Hunter boots will be posting curated video clips from its catwalk show almost instantaneously on Twitter, and targeting content based on users’ geographic location, to ensure they get the products right for their region and climate.

Online clothing sales are set to reach £10.7 billion (RM55.6 billion, €13.4 billion) in Britain this year — an increase of 14.5% in a year and 17% of the total spend, according to market research firm, Mintel.

With an eye on this growing market, last year, the BFC drafted in Peter Fitzgerald — a top sales executive at Google UK — to help London designers boost their online presence. — AFP

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on Sept 15, 2014.