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London Fashion Week: The Digital Revolution

Social Media Driving New Fashion-Tech Industry

Once the reserve of the fashionista and trade-only elite, thanks to social media expansion London Fashion Week now offers you an all-access pass and front row seats to the catwalks without having to leave your sofa.

Arguable more so than in Paris or New York, London is seeing the multibillion pound worlds of tech and fashion colliding, not least signalled by the timely arrival of the Apple watch last week, which marks an interesting and innovative advance on the burgeoning fashion tech sector.

It’s not just on the catwalks where competition is tough – aggressive social media strategies are employed specifically for the week. Last year, Burberry came up trumps with nearly 300,000 mentions in social media posts (more than LFW itself), and this year the brand is tipped to be one of the first fashion houses to trial a new pay-by-tweet feature at their show. It was at New York’s Fashion Week in February this year that Marc Jacobs introduced his innovative Tweet Shop – no cash was necessary, just an active Twitter account to exchange positive Tweets for the brand’s popular Daisy products. London Fashion Week, or should we say #LFW, is about teaming up with tech companies to digitally showcase exclusive launches and new products.

This week will see fervent Tweeting, Instagramming and Facebooking, hoping to top last year’s results of a quarter-of-a-million #LFW mentions and 75,000 Instagram images over the five days.

Iain Matthews, head of planning at social media agency Jam, says that LFW is now less about the fashion itself and more about the social media hype: ‘London Fashion Week has the potent combination necessary to drive a huge volume of online conversation: a young engaged audience, a bucket-load of celebs and brands that are willing to experiment with the latest digital technology to hawk their wares.’

What was once a trade show has now become an experimental event in mass digital participation. 

Instagram is particularly good for fashion fans craving a glimpse of the high-end shows. Fashion magazines and London socialites are posting videos right from the front rows and users can quickly watch runway shows and find backstage shots using the #LFW hashtag. The spring LFW bore witness to the first ever live catwalk selfie, courtesy of self-professed wild child Cara Delevingne.

Topshop is a particularly ardent fan of using social media to involve fans in the event. A spokesperson told The Drum that ‘there is so much excitement around London Fashion Week and social media is crucial not just as a marketing tool but an incredibly good way to democratise the event and see how our customers respond’. 

Retail brands doing the rounds in London this week are particularly well versed in understanding which social media channels to use and how to capitalise on their unique characteristics; specific boards are being curated on Pinterest, immediate live tweeting from the side of the catwalks, exclusive digital content and behind the scenes tit-bits on Instagram, promotion and information tools on Facebook, creative highlights on Vine and stunning online galleries via Tumblr.

Fashion Week has historically been a prestigious, exclusive event for industry insiders, but with the advent of blogging and online journalism, social media has transformed its significance. Social networks have democratised and lifted the veil on the week, so that any fashion enthusiast can take a peek into the shows as they happen, and this increased exposure is beneficial to both the audience and forward-thinking brands.

Social media is changing the nature and delivery of fashion week events; no longer is it just about coverage, but more about creating an event of the event. That sounds appropriately fashionista, right?


Recent graduate and now interning as content editor, when she's not writing articles Katie can quite likely be found festival-ing, holiday-ing or reading a book (dedicated English student that she is). Follow her @KatieAtSMF.

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London Fashion Week: The Digital Revolution Reviewed by Katie Rowley on Thursday, September 18, 2014 Rating: 5
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