Fashion Week, held every February and September in New York, London, Milan and Paris, is known for ushering the newest styles, trends, and designers into mainstream fashion. The season will come to a close in Paris this week, where brands like Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Lanvin, are now showing their collections. For the past few years brands have become more experimental, pushing the digital envelope and integrating technology into their fashion shows. Streaming shows live and posting photos immediately online are trends that have now become expected from Fashion Week. Within the last few years, fashion brands are working in different ways to connect with consumers and bring new concepts to reality.
Alexander Wang chose to host his Fall 2014 show in Brooklyn. The invitations were heat sensitive and arrived with step-by-step directions to the venue. The brand also teamed up with Uber, an app-based cab service, providing 30% off Uber transportation. The invitation was a foretelling of the heat-activated fabric Wang used in his collection. For the show’s finale, models were positioned under heat vents as the fabric changed colors under the presence of warmth. The brand is not the first to debut this type of technology, but certainly one with the most brand recognition.
For the Rebecca Minkoff Fall 2014 fashion show, the brand used the social media platform Keek to post behind scenes videos. The company’s CEO Uri Minkoff believes customers appreciate an insider look at the brand and connect more with raw and un-edited content. Rebecca Minkoff has also used its large social media presence in past fashion weeks to debut looks to customers via Tumblr and Snapchat. The value of a brand’s social media following is indispensable and helps create a highly engaged audience, welcomed into the brand’s inner circle.
Marc Jacobs opened a pop-up shop for his fragrance, Daisy, in New York City on the first day of Fashion Week. Formally called the Daisy Marc Jacobs Tweet Shop, the store employed social currency; visitors could use the hashtag #MJDaisyChain and receive a branded gift from the store. Exchanging branded items for social media posts is an innovative concept to spread awareness and reward customers for their endorsements.
Burberry is one of the most digital brands in the luxury sector. Constantly pushing the tech-envelope, Burberry looks to merge digital and physical touch points across its brand. From teaming up with Apple last year to opening a till-free beauty boutique, Burberry has championed an array of successful innovations. The brand has also successfully expanded its “Runway Made to Order” service, which now includes menswear, womenswear, and cosmetics available for purchase and personalization, straight off the runway. For its most recent Fall 2014 show, Burberry created heavy engagement on social media, posting exclusive photography, videos and original Vines.
“Burberry’s strength is very much in asserting its sense of self while demonstrating its sensibility to an evolving world and consumer. As such, the brand is looked to as an adept and agile maestro of the experiential” comments Rebecca Robins, Director EMEA & LatAm for Interbrand and co-author of Meta-luxury: Brands and the Culture of Excellence. “This is a brand that has embraced the very premise of tradition as innovation, remaining true to the threads of its core values, while working constantly to ensure its relevance for generations to come."
"The question for brand owners," Robins adds, "should be how does innovation add value to the brand? How do innovations add value to how consumers engage with the brand? In the same way that leading luxury brands dispense with the very term 'luxury,' technology comes as standard. The brands that truly embed the magic and logic of innovation and the magic and logic of brand as central organizing principle, will be the ones that we will be reading about long beyond the runway.”
Fashion Week is a time for brands to showcase their ability to experiment and further position themselves as innovators in the fashion industry. Strides and advancements made in past fashion weeks have now become expectation. While some fashion brands are still slow to embrace it, technology is a new way to tell a brand story, especially through social networking outlets and product development. Utilizing technology is becoming increasingly necessary for fashion brands, as live streams, social media, and digital innovation are essential to connecting with consumers.
Brittany Waterson is an Associate in Interbrand's Global Marketing and Communications team.