Over the years, we’ve seen technology come to play a more prominent role in New York Fashion Week from a stylistic standpoint (Google Glass and wearable 3D products), general conversations about designers, to the way we engage with shows. Each season it become more apparent how much technology has altered the form and function of the almighty fashion week. Women’s Wear Daily may have characterized the evolution best: “ramped-up social media and live streaming have led Fashion Week to become a veritable digital spectator sport.”
In what is now standard practice, image galleries, live tweets and near-instant media coverage were par for the course. Designers (and their team of marketing and PR experts) have increasingly come to adopt and embrace the web as an indispensable way to extend the tent experience. From Tumblr’s contest which partnered bloggers and designers, to Pinterest’s launch of it’s Fashion Week Hub, pretty much every social media channel had a stake in NYFW this year, and it seems were more than willing to give the exclusive to Mashable.
Photo by Mashable, Nina Frazier
As technology provides new ways for brands to tell their stories and engage with consumers, the runway show becomes just one aspect of event strategy. Cole Haan’s #SubywayStyle sent bloggers to capture street style, in an interesting twist on brand content creation (though competing for gift cards left something to be desired). In a "now you see it, now you don't" spin, early adopter Rebecca Minkoff sent fans a preview of the fall line, via snapchat. With so many brands using the same channels, being the first fashion brand to adopt a newer social network or app is one remaining way to garner media attention. As CEO Uri Minkoff told Mashable, Rebecca Minkoff “believe[s] the consumer is part of [fashion week] . . .The consumer has a voice and say in [our] brand, they should get special perks even if they can't attend the show."
The digital revolution that has hit fashion has also increased the public’s involvement in what used to be a very exclusive event and industry. In another example of garnering attention, though this time also giving media a fun new playground,Tommy Hilfiger introduced the concept of Social Concierge to provide content that would fulfill real-time demand with a team of thirty on-hand to fulfill media's on-demand needs. The company created a “Runway Newsroom,” for buyers and press, and gave bloggers Lytro cameras, which allows viewers to manipulate the focus of the camera as they are watching, zooming in or out based on their interest in specific designs . The photographs were released through the Tommy Hilfiger Twitter account and on the blogs of the label’s guest bloggers. These digital efforts reflect what Hilfiger himself concluded about the changing landscape of the industry, telling Mashable: “Today, we want to be very democratic, very inclusive. We would like anyone anything to do with fashion world, media world, tech world to see what we're doing."
On that note, it's interesting to note how blurred the lines are between the industry itself, and consumer entertainment. Mercedes Benz' universal live-stream provided instant access to images and videos from the week’s shows. As happy as we may have been for this at-home backstage pass, as TechCrunch suggests, live-streaming videos raises serious questions about the necessity of industry experts attending the event itself, and, one could argue the true purpose of the event itself.
Photo by James Nord // Oscar de la Renta model, Lindsey Wixon via Tumblr
As far as NYFW’s featured designers are concerned, technology has become the preferred mechanism for content-marketing: a valuable means to an end for branding and raising awareness. The ability to promote brand fashion week activities, or piggy-back on the NYFW buzz is an attractive one. Particularly for those companies with impressive PR and marketing budgets. Curating slick images across multiple channels on the level of Oscar de la Renta or DVF, two of this year’s tech-savvy standouts, almost makes one nostalgic for offline, PR stunts of yore. Anyone? Regardless, it’s clear that while fashion brands have firmly placed their confidence in social media and technology, saturation of these channels leaves being "first to market," one of the best ways to build media attention, not matter the season.
For more information about how Tribe Dynamics helps PR professionals manage and monitor influencer outreach, take advantage of this exclusive offer for PR Couture readers.
Featured photo: Tommy Hilfiger for Mashable