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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fashion meets Technology - Highlights from the Fashion Decoded conference by Alison Lewy


I had the pleasure in attending the first London Fashion Decoded conference on Thursday. The goal of the conferences, which launched in NYC in April, is to promote creative collaborations between the fashion and technology sectors.

The event was even more poignant considering the organiser Liz Bacelar, and chair Dirk Standen from Style.com,  managed to get to London from New York despite all the problems caused by Hurricane Sandy. It was a tribute to Liz and her team that she managed to run such a successful the event even though soem speakers didn't make it and she must have been very concerned about friends and relatives.

The first panel discussion was on the Future of Runway in the digital age with designer Henry Holland, On/Off founder Lee Lapthorn, Erik Torstenson from The Saturday group and Gillian Harding Morre from Fashion GPS.

The question posed by moderator Noelle Reno was - are catwalks relevant in the digital age?

 Key point to come out of the discussion:-
  •  For some designers, such as House of Holland, a physical catwalk will always be important as the whole theatre and buzz of an event is key to building the brand.
  •   Live streaming of most on schedule catwalk shows means the opportunity is there to reach a wider audience and gives consumers a chance to feel the excitement around the shows
  •  Burberry was acknowledged as the game changer by being the first to invest heavily in technology and allowing customers to order at the same time as watching the shows.
  •  Lee felt whilst it was undoubtedly necessary for some high end luxury labels, it depends on their brand positioning. The costs are often prohibitive without sponsorship which is becoming harder to attract. There are now viable alternatives to show a collection via digital catwalks with the advances of 360 technology and this method of showcasing will be adopted more and more in the future.
  • There is also something to be said for the Tom Ford approach – just inviting the really key buyers and press to a small presentation as in reality probably on 50 people attending shows are important buyers or press.
  • Erik suggested that as consumers were able to watch and even order items from catwalks as they are live streamed the next step could be that designers could reserve a number of seats for key buyers/press at their shows, and then charge customers/fans to attend, as a way of financing the shows.
I was so delighted that the fashion tech keynote interview was with Aslaug Magnusdottir from Moda Operandi, as have been interested in their business model since they launched in February 2011. Moda Operandi really did disrupt the fashion industry hierarchy by providing customers immediate access to runway collections. A summary of how they have become so successful:-
  • As soon as a designer’s catwalk show has taken place, their team photograph the collection which is then uploaded to the site within 48 hours.
  • The beauty of this is that customers pay 50% deposit and the balance on delivery which helps the designer finance the production.
  • When they started they were told it would never work but they now have over 350 brands featured on the site.
  • The US and UK designers were supportive from the beginning but the French designers were the hardest to convince.
  • They have a very clear idea of their target customer – their average customer is a high net worth female age 43.
  • The average ticket price is $800 and average customer spend per transaction is £1300
  • The high level of customer service is paramount to their success - personal stylists are on hand to advise their customers on making the right purchase and putting ‘looks’ together.
  • They use archival packaging so the customer receives their purchase beautifully packed.
  • When they first started around 50% of customers used the stylists but now customers are more confident buying from the site its around 20% and tend to be the high spending repeat customers.
  • Next stage of their business development is the launch of in season product later this month.
  • Although an online business, they do see having a physical presence too is important for brand building – they host trunk shows to promote their designers and customers can get advice from their personal stylists.
  • They are also planning to open up a pop up store in Brazil in March which will heavily feature London based designer brands.
  • Social media is very important to them, particularly Pinterest which they use to build interest around their designers – it’s a common misconception that high end customers don’t engage with social media.  

This point was reiterated in a later interview with by Tracy Yaverbaun, Facebook’s Director of Fashion and Luxury partnerships. Their research has shown that high net worth consumers spend a disproportionate amounted time on Facebook compared to other traditional media. To prove the point they have run very successful campaigns with both Tiffany and Cartier.

KEY MESSAGE FROM THE CONFERENCE

One message came through loud and clear throughout the whole day – the future is mobile - all the businesses represented on the various panels were heavily investing in their mobile technology and strategies. According to Martijn Bertisen, Head of Google Retail UK/IE, by Christmas 40% of fashion related searches will come from a phone.  

The popularity of our M-commercefor Fashion Retail talk on 14th November shows that SME fashion businesses are also realising this is something they cannot ignore. If you want to book a place go to our Fashion Angel Events page.

Next week part two of my personal highlights talks about The Fashion Pitch section.




1 comment:

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