Natalie Massenet opened London Fashion Week this morning heralding the week as a time for digital innovation across the industry.
The British Fashion Council (BFC) chairman and founder of Net-a-Porter said: “There’s so much focus on tech these days. Fashion and technology are great partners.”
She called on designers to seize the “opportunity to harness the tools of tech to reach consumers worldwide and grow their businesses.”
She said the BFC has been focusing on pushing digital innovation as one of its five strategic pillars and the results are now being seen. In February 2013 33% of on-schedule London Fashion Week designers had ecommerce sites but this week the figure has risen to 43%. The challenge, she added is to increase this to 100% in the next couple of years.
“We can now say London is set to be the most tech savvy fashion capital of the world,” she said.
She said the need to embrace digital is crucial as Mintel research shows that since 2013 UK sales of online fashion have increased by 14.5% to reach £10.7bn in 2014, while online sales in the UK account for approximately 17% of total spending on clothing and footwear, up from 13% in 2011.
She outlined a number of digital firsts that would be included as part of London Fashion Week, including Twitter’s launch of the new ‘buy’ button with Burberry; Hunter’s collaboration with Grabyo through which live streaming will be turned into instant edited show highlights shared on Twitter and Instagram; and a partnership between House of Holland and Metail enabling consumers to try on and buy clothes in real time using a digital avatar.
“The BFC is committed to help designers to grow their businesses and digital is one of the tools – you can’t ignore that world,” she concluded.
Peter Fitzgerald, a director at Google and president of the BFC’s digital innovation pillar, suitably joined the event via a video link from the Google office in Mountain View. He added that growth for fashion businesses can be two to four times faster if they are digitally savvy and the opportunities online are “just awakening”.
“It’s just the beginning,” he added. “We have got a lot of work to do over the next year and a half and we will meet that goal to have the best designers in terms of creativity and the savviest in terms of how they use digital.”