In today’s connected society, no industry can escape the influence of technology – not even designer fashion. Over the past couple of years, media coverage of Fashion Weeks across the globe has been focused on how fashion brands are using various experimental technology implementations to capture consumers’ attention.

This year, once again the use of high-tech strategies by brands outshines the new designs being displayed at London Fashion Week (LFW). We saw Topshop partnering with Twitter, using real-time data to update six billboards across the UK to let passers-by know which looks are trending during their catwalk show. This marked one of the first cases that a brand has used real-time big data from a Fashion Week show to curate a customer's shopping journey. Another star from LFW 2015 was River Island, which teamed up with Google and the British Fashion Council to create a virtual reality experience for the launch of its new collection.

Burberry, no stranger to tech innovation, sent Twitter users personalised pictures from its LFW 2015 show. Image credit: Ben Broomfield/British Fashion Council
Burberry, no stranger to tech innovation, sent Twitter users personalised pictures from its LFW 2015 show. Image credit: Ben Broomfield/British Fashion Council

Data, data, data

Clearly this shows fashion retailers and designers need to be paying attention to data, data and more data! With digital continuing to proliferate the scene, there is increasingly more information and learnings to be gained from the consumer. Understanding how users interact on devices and with software is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what valuable information and insights to aid future ideas and developments.

Being exposed to the forefront of leading innovation allows for a greater opportunity for designers and fashion brands to get inspired by the next big thing. Behavioural data also gives retail brands more customisation over individual consumer experiences – another key theme for this year’s LFW. Just look at how Burberry sent Twitter users personalised pictures from its LFW 2015 show. The really smart marketers who have been quick on the draw already have fully responsive interfaces, branded apps to assist product discovery, relevant offer notifications, personalised interactive features and most importantly one click to purchase with recognised secure payment options.

Catering to the “new age” consumer

When it comes to fashion retail strategies, gone are the days where stores are the forefront of the marketing stage and mobile devices are used predominantly for text messages and playing Snake. Over the last five years, technology developments have completely changed the way people interact with fashion brands across online, mobile and in-store. Fashion marketers have seized the moment to create inspiring, personalised experiences for their customers across multiple platforms, anywhere in the world.

Mobile technology has enabled retailers to inspire customers through the use of high definition visuals and video streaming. Fashion Weeks themselves are now live streamed across the globe.

In store, retailers are quickly discovering innovative ways to meet the demands of the ‘new age’ consumer, with beacons being the latest trend used to trigger relevant messages to various types of customers—from the first time to the loyal, high-value visitors. Shop assistants are now able to use tablets to assist with out of stock challenges, cross-sell initiatives and swift payment processing by having the Point-of-Sale in the palm of their hands. Not to mention that emailing receipts directly to the customer is a great acquisition opportunity!

Retailers are now beginning to take it a step further and have tablets in the changing rooms that allow a shopper to interact with the clothes they are trying on and have access to recommended items that work well together. House of Fraser, for example, is currently trialing an interesting concept of beacon-enabled mannequins that allow the customer to digitally interact with the items on display. In the future, we could see this approach utilised on digital displays in-store, bus stops and tube stations delivering personalised adverts relevant to the individual in close proximity.

Furthermore, with fashion brands’ increasing partnerships with social media platforms, it should come as no surprise that social applications are now seamlessly integrated with most fashion sites, allowing consumers to tweet about the brands they love and share the outfits that inspire them. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are even testing out a ‘buy button’, and social represents not only a voice for the brand but potentially an important revenue stream.

Designing for digital

It’s not just the retail brands that should be examining their strategies alongside rapidly changing technological advances. Designers themselves are creative artists and it is therefore essential that their work is presented in the most desirable environment. The digital medium is a perfect opportunity to allow people to experience the fine detail. Some designers use apps at their Fashion Week events for people to capture moments and discover more ‘behind the scenes’, giving exclusive footage to subscribed customers, for example. This captures both the imagination of consumers, as well as data that could help with personalisation tactics.

Most importantly, designers and retailers alike should also be taking full advantage of technology’s ability to facilitate a conversation about what kind of experience customers desire, really enjoy or think can be done better. And this season’s London Fashion Week illustrates that the fashion industry will continue to be shaped by the rise of data and technologies.