Fashion shows are exclusive to say the least. You have to be rich, famous, or a pretty darn good designer to be in attendance at any worthy fashion week show, as these events are not open to the public. The conventional wisdom that once closed its doors to aspiring designers and customers, is now encouraging attendance through social media outlets. Consumers are being put front and center at these shows virtually to lure fashionistas in and make them feel like they are part of the buying and decision making process.
This year, Google + and Topshop created London Fashion Weeks most interactive show yet. From micro-cameras to Google hangouts, fashionistas using social media were right at the center of this specific fashion week show, and were even able to preview clothes and hangout with models!
This was described perfectly by Vikram Kansara, a writer for the Business of Fashion:
“While megabrands like Burberry and Louis Vuitton have live-streamed their runway shows for several seasons now, the Topshop initiative, dubbed “The Future of the Fashion Show,” aims to bring consumers even closer to the action, employing wearable, high-definition micro-cameras and a slew of Google platforms, from YouTube to Google+ Hangouts, to let users virtually inhabit the privileged perspectives of fashion industry archetypes — the model, the guest celebrity, the retail buyer, even the designer — and experience the show through their eyes.” – Topshop and Google Plan Data-Savvy Digital Runway
The idea that Topshop uses social media to leverage its brand isn’t anything new. Last year, Justin Cooke, Chief Marketing Officer of Topshop, worked with Facebook to create a social presence on a project called “Customize The Catwalk.” Over two million viewers watched the show online.
Customize the Catwalk allowed customers to view and customize Topshop Unique designs as the models came down the runway by allowing the customer to view items in different colors. The viewer could then purchase these items right off the runway. Those viewers who ordered items right off the runway could get these items delivered to them right away, instead of waiting for them to arrive in the stores.
As Justin Cooke noted:
“This show is all about the customer and creating what we call ‘social entertainment’ around our product. We want to take the energy and the excitement of our iconic Oxford street store to millions of people all over the world through Topshop.com. It’s social, it’s commerce and it’s entertainment all rolled into one.”- Justin Cooke, Chief Marketing Officer, Topshop
This year, the London Fashion show took on a life of its own through Google+. Leading up to the actual fashion show, the Google + team released a trailer that showed the story line for the fashion show through social media. A Topshop social media participant could now be a buyer, model and really “be part of the team.” Topshop and Google+ even used 3-D Google Map technology to give fans access to the upcoming show’s space in the Tate Modern. Topshop fans had access to everything.
Justin Cooke noted that within the first five minutes of the actual fashion show, there were over 200,000 social media shares on Google+, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr using the “Shoot The Show” feature.
As Cooke states:
“Great brands sell experiences. The product has to be incredible, but the experience lasts forever”.- Justin Cooke, Chief Marketing Officer, Topshop
Its clear that selling the fashion experience is working for Topshop. How will other semi- closed industries start embracing social media to open their doors to the public?
As Avinash Kaushik, Google’s Analytics Evangelist stated,
“Too many companies have not evolved from what I call ‘shout marketing’ — think TV, newspapers, magazine ads — to influence by initiating and participating in conversations with consumers. There needs to be a generational shift.”- Avinash Kaushik, Google’s Analytics
As Justin Cooke is only 31 years old, it is understandable how Topshop’s marketing is at an extremely social level. How will other brands compete and keep up? How would you? With that said, part of what makes fashion “cool” is that it is exclusive and limited. How will this open environment impact the fashion industry? Only time will tell if the rest of the fashion industry jumps on board with this new social model, but it seems inevitable.