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Lessons for brands: digital culture at London Fashion Week

Digital technology had played a significant role behind the scenes in fashion weeks for many years, but it was when digital publishing methods – namely blogging – were becoming mainstream that we started to see the power this technology had on communications. Early bloggers, like Kathryn Finney of The Budget Fashionista, helped get the less headline-grabbing bits of fashion weeks in front of those who were keen to read about them.

As these forward-thinking followers became the new voice of the fashion week, brands started to experiment with the new digital culture. Fast forward to 2015 and the fashion world is something of a pin-up for how an entire sector can embrace the breadth of opportunity that digital can provide. Burberry and Topshop, two well-known British brands, are two notable supporters. The former was the first luxury brand to live stream a catwalk show to a global, public audience, and has since been recognised as a global leader when it comes to sensibly embracing technology and innovation. The latter recently combined Twitter and real-time outdoor advertising to transport trends from the catwalk to the digital shop floor quicker than you can tap 140 characters.

In such a way as technology now allows, we sat back and enjoyed this February’s London Fashion Week and the stories that surrounded it from afar, observing lessons that any brand or business worth its weight in cashmere can learn from.

It’s good to dream big

With Google Glass alive and well, Apple Watches on the way and Yeezy delivering for adidas, 2015 is reiterating that it can pay to dream big in fashion, and this certainly seemed the case at fashion week. From the models to the live streams, the “almost breaking of the internet” by Burberry, the Charli Cohen shoppable catwalk, the TopShop “Vine” booth and the other side of fashion week, the LFW catwalk and its surroundings was as always a realisation of big dreams.

Never be satisfied

Rather than designing for the future, Donatella Versace prefers to reshape the here and now in every new collection, using the phrase “Versace of today” as a way of introducing each new collection. “The Versace” of AW15 leans heavily on popular digital culture with “at” (@) signs sequined into couture dresses and logos reinvented as emojis. It could be argued that Versace has perhaps commoditised digital culture into couture, nevertheless it’s refreshing to see an experienced fashion institution humorously playing with technology alongside the pop culture of the moment.

Embrace speed

Whether it’s hashtags or look-see sample leaks, technology shows no signs of slowing down the fashion industry. So it should be no surprise that “blink and you’ve missed it” service Snapchat was the prized tool of many bloggers at this year’s London Fashion Week. The quick snippets of ephemeral content you can publish via Snapchat are seemingly the perfect match for an event that’s heavily reliant on snippets of information and a bit of scarcity.

Being thoughtful works

Burberry has long been delivering you a catwalk show experience, wherever you may be. This year it decided to offer up simple, one-of-a-kind pictures to anyone who tweeted with it live during their catwalk show. This was a sizeable effort seeking to give a little something back to a large group of people.

Try not to be contrived

One of the overwhelming observations from this year’s fashion week was the amount of unfiltered fun being shared by everyone in attendance – most notably the models. The Cara Delevignes and Alexa Chungs of the world are refreshingly open and transparent when it comes to sharing their adventures on the internet. Although brands need to be wary about behaving like “people”, many of the models of fashion week demonstrate that the unedited version of what you are can be a powerful thing.

It’s not all about the main event

New York City street photographer Bill Cunningham once said: “The best fashion show is on the street. Always has been, always will be.” This thought was very relevant at fashion week; through the technology that people carry around with them every day, anyone with a passing interest in fashion week – or anyone who’s simply passing by – can help document what’s happening and the story that’s being told. A very powerful thing indeed.

Michael Roberts is a communications strategist, and Alexandra Matine is senior strategist, both at 72andSunny Amsterdam

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