The 'FROW' Experience

Last week saw the end of London Fashion Week, one of the most highly anticipated events for fashion bunny’s across the UK. Once a phenomenon only intended for the fashion elite – it seems brands are now more than ever attempting to immerse consumers into the full fashion week experience through clever use of digital technology.

This year Topshop brought their AW14 collection to life through their 360 catwalk experience - live shows were streamed via screens in the windows of their flagship store in London’s Oxford Street.  Participants wore specially commissioned head-sets to enter the 360 degree virtual world which incorporated live feeds from the catwalk shows, backstage and VIP arrivals. The result of it – Topshop dominated the news for the duration of London Fashion Week, successfully upholding their status as leaders of the high street.

However, Topshop were not the first fashion brand to bring the catwalk experience to life…

Back in 2011 Burberry announced they were streaming their Autumn/Winter show in Piccadilly Circus – creating an entertaining and interactive experience for fashion fans, whilst livening up a dull Monday afternoon in one of London’s main tourist attractions.

Since then it seems that Burberry have decided the experiential approach is a ‘must have’ when it comes to engaging their consumers. In December 2013 they announced the opening of their beauty box store in Covent Garden. The store features a custom built digital screen and a 16ft digital chandelier showcasing bespoke content across the brands make-up, fragrance and accessories range. One of the stores key features is a digital nail bar; which allows customers to try out the latest shades from the runway using an RFID-enabled platform to match skin tones to different colour shades. The added bonus …you won’t see a till point in sight - all purchases can be made using an iPad or iPhone.

But it’s not only fashion brands that can benefit from this creative tactic. It would be great to see some of the major beauty brands taking the same integrated approach - using events like Fashion Week as a platform to create engaging live experiences for their consumers away from the normal retail environment.

The implementation of technology such as RFID and augmented reality means that beauty brands can now create experiences such as ‘how to achieve the LFW look,’ enabling consumers to personally trial products via their mobiles and tablets.

Last week Dolce & Gabbana  shared their spring beauty collection through a 'tutorialisede' section on their website, featuring online tutorials from the brands Creative Advisor Pat McGrath, demonstrating how consumers can achieve the brands key seasonal looks. The concept behind their decision was to increase retention levels during Milan Fashion Week, which ended on Sunday. Online makeup tutorials are one of the most viewed video categories on YouTube so it seems only natural that brands are finally starting to comprehend the importance of live demonstration.

Personally I believe this type of beauty activation would have been more effective using a more experiential approach - with expert brand ambassadors on hand providing tutorials and recreating statement looks from the shows, bringing the backstage experience to life for consumers on the go. It would definitely have been a powerful tool to get people talking about the beauty behind the fashion both online and offline.