Burberry and Tom Ford may be bringing the runway immediately into luxury stores later this year, but Topshop has already found a way to bring it to the high street in an instant
In February 2015, Topshop launched digital billboards that provided updated content in real-time featruring new fashion trends as they emerge at London Fashion Week. The billboards were central to a broader eco-system designed to democratise high-end fashion and made it accessible to the everyday consumers when and where they wanted it.
The six Twitter-supported digital billboards were situated in London, Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow. Each billboard showed word clouds created from data informed by Twitter tweets using the hashtag #LFW. The word clouds showed the key trends emerging on the runway, such as colour-blocking or pleats. The billboards also showed a small selection of current stock available in-store that complement the new trends being seen.
The billboards were all within ten minutes’ walk of a Topshop store. For passers-by who preferred to shop online, they had the option to tweet one of the trending words to Topshop’s Twitter account. They would then receive a link to a curated shopping list of Topshop products in line with the trend that they could buy online through mobile payments. The real-time data content could also be viewed in a display in the retailer’s flagship Oxford Street shop window and on its homepage.
In terms of metrics, Topshop had an average 24.8% uplift in sales across all featured trend categories compared to the week prior to the campaign’s launch. As an example of the campaign’s impact on trend-specific items, those that fell under the #Modernism trend saw a 75% uplift in sales.
“The fashion industry is looking to solve the perplexity that building hype during the fashion week season brings,” said Susann Jerry, strategic communications practitioner at Ocean Outdoor, who worked on the campaign. “Normally, by the time the collections do arrive in the stores, the shopper has already moved on to the next seasonal trend.”
A year on and Jerry’s comments are being echoed by Burberry’s chief executive and chief creative officer Christopher Bailey. In a February 2016 interview with Business of Fashion, Bailey said: “There’s just something that innately feels wrong when we’re talking about creating a moment in fashion. …To try to recreate the energy that you created five or six months ago, you’ve got to just question how relevant it is.”
For those not yet ready to abandon the fashion calendar – you won’t be alone; Gucci believes to do so “negates the idea of luxury” – real-time shopping is not a closed door. Topshop’s billboard campaign hinged on the Australian social media aggregation platform, Stackla. “The sense of immediacy that comes from real-time trend shopping is hugely exciting for consumers,” said Andy Mallinson, European MD of Stackla. “It offers them inspiration direct from the designers, and integrates them into the London Fashion Week event, regardless of whether they have a front row seat.”
A year on and it is those not sitting in the front row, but those standing in-store who have the best view of what is really trending in fashion.