Diane von Furstenberg was a trailblazer in the tech collaboration game, with now-defunct consumer-oriented Google Glass. That was five years ago, opening up the playing field for projects from LG, YouTube, Apple Pay, Shopify Plus and more.
On Thursday, LG partnered with luxury vintage clothing retailer What Goes Around Comes Around to open the NYFW Refresh Suite — a styling and garment refresh station at the store’s Soho flagship, Shopify supported the 11 Honoré party with Good American jeans, and Apple Pay came out with a partnership to be the exclusive payment platform to launch designer Jonathan Simkhai’s first handbags. Meanwhile, Amazon partnered with Rihanna for the exclusive rights to live-stream the Savage x Fenty show (so no phones are allowed for guests in the seats!) and YouTube chose to debut its new fashion channel, timed to NYFW.
The latest moves are no aberration, but a calculated and growing priority for the digital set.
“Tech platforms are increasing their visibility at events like NYFW as they integrate with digital-first brands to improve both user-experience and customer-experience,” Asher Chester, director of performance marketing at Agency Within, told WWD. “Companies like Visa, who announced a sponsorship as the official payment technology partner, SAP and other enterprise software companies, host activations at NYFW by design, as they’ll benefit from general brand awareness. But [they] also make their capabilities and services known to brands looking to up their digital offerings to consumers.”
In February, enterprise software company SAP collaborated with Christian Siriano to offer the Runway App for the last NYFW. The program allowed live guests and remote viewers to vote on looks as they trot down the runway. By letting the public “like” or “love” outfits in real time, the company could funnel live feedback to designers.
It is a matter of one type of platform meeting another, as digital companies vie for fashion’s attention.
Chester sees how the collaborations open up fashion week, making it more accessible. “In terms of accessibility, social media…has made it easier for the average person to experience the runway, see behind the scenes and discover the trendsetting products in real-time,” Chester added. “Whether it’s daily recaps from Influencers, brands sharing their own-releases or unique platform tools like Snap Discovery.”
Undeniably, some of the biggest efforts around fashion week come from the trenches of social media, as fashion journalists, guests, designers and models themselves will be Snapchatting, Instagramming and sharing videos. Some social media companies, like Instagram, have even offered lessons to fashion audiences on how to make the most of their networks.
Twitter, too, notes the surge of conversations. “We see a lot of activity happening on the platform and a lot of brands that are planning to launch live streams to broadcast their own event, or experience and bring that experience to the influential audience on Twitter,” Stacy Minero, global head of Twitter ArtHouse, the company’s branded content wing. “Last year, in 2018, there were nine fashion shows over the course of the year that were broadcast. And this year, we’ve got 16 that are committed, and we think we’ll end the year with a lot more than that.”
Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube may seem like the go-to destinations for fashion designers, influencers and their fans, but Twitter is also making its case as a fashion destination.
“When you think about Snapchat, and Instagram, those experiences are contained. And when you think about Twitter, it’s an open platform that’s connected,” Minero explained. “Tweets travel — they travel to new audiences, you’ve got regular people, fashion influencers, designers, publishers that are all connected to the conversation. That conversation can expand over time when you put a live stream on the platform. And so the open nature of the platform makes it interesting and makes it unique.”
According to Minero, Twitter has seen an 85 percent increase of people talking about fashion over the past two years.
She cited Target as one of the company’s best partners. The mega retailer’s latest activation, which launched Thursday, involved a live-stream to celebrate 20 years of designer collaborations, complete with reminders and notifications for when the event would go live, custom emojis, countdown content and more. “And they’ve got people like Isaac Mizrahi, Anna, Sui and Jason Wu all tweeting about the live-stream,” she said. The company is also making the live-stream available for replay.
As for the launch, by Twitter’s metrics, Target’s “Design for All Experience” show captured more than 2.5 million views in less than 24 hours.
For Jordan Elkind, head of product management at retail data analytics firm Custora, tech’s push into fashion week is not an end goal, but a beginning.
“What’s really interesting will be to see where those partnerships go after fashion week is over,” he said, “and which brands make the most use of new tech to set themselves apart by giving customers unique experiences.”