Monday, 17 September 2012

Topshop friends Facebook for fashion first


The British high street fashion retailer Topshop is looking to break new ground with its upcoming show at London Fashion Week. The brand - which is part of billionaire Philip Green's retail empire - has been stepping up its expansion into North America recently, and is exploring opportunities in China. Topshop's Chief Marketing Officer Justin Cooke says by livestreaming its catwalk show on its website, its hoping to connect with customers wherever they are.
"We wanted to use this live experience to connect these audiences around the world and we're going to use this show to do that, so we're going to think about every platform, every device." Cooke says what Topshop has planned for its upcoming show will mark a fashion first in more ways than one, and he's giving Reuters TV an exclusive first look. "We are doing the first time ever anyone has ever customized the catwalk, so as key looks come down the runway customers will be able to click and change the colour and order the look they want which is, we think, revolutionary. We've also developed a very innovative piece of technology with Facebook. So when you want to socialize and share your favourite moments from the show you click and the screen flashes a little bit like when you do a screen save on your iPhone and you can share that immediately with your friends without leaving the show experience which we think is really exciting." Tracy Yaverbaun is in charge of European fashion partnerships at Facebook. She says Topshop is going beyond others in the industry have attempted. 
 "Very innovative brands like Burberry have allowed people to buy from catwalk but never really relinquished control to consumers so I think it's actually a pretty big step." And she predicts, the impact of the social tools will be closely watched by many in the fashion industry. 
 Tracy Yaverbaun "most traditional brands would stream their show and wait for editorial to pick up on key looks for the trends of the season. What Topshop are doing is they're allowing their fans and customers to capture the look first and for them to decide what is going to be the next key look for the season and share that with their friends and the people they care about." Topshop is also integrating a live Twitter stream and an iTunes widget on its site, allowing people to see and download the music from the show. Even the time the models take to the runway - Sunday afternoon in London - has been selected for maximum social exposure. 
 "It's the down time. So if you think globally across all of the different continents its the time where you're going to get the highest engagement on a Sunday where people are having they're lazy time online and also don't forget the live experience is one thing but then it flips to on demand and at that point you've got people with all this shareability - I'm imagining about 9PM UK time, I'm hoping it's going to be crazy. Global trending topics and everybody sharing looks from the show with one another - that's the minimum we can ask for and if we sell out of everything within 24 to 48 hours then even better." So the stage is set for a social experiment with a distinctly fashionable flare.

Matt Cowan, Reuter

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