LONDON — Converting likes on Instagram into sales, forging an emotional connection with customers and merging commercial and editorial content were among the topics up for discussion at the Decoded Fashion summit in London Tuesday.

The event, which aims to connect emerging technologies with decision makers in the fashion, beauty and retail sectors, hosted speakers including Tracy Yaverbaun, group director of fashion and luxury at Facebook; Chris Morton, the co-founder of Lyst; Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council, and designers Henry Holland and Mary Katrantzou.


As part of a panel discussing what drives return on investment for luxury labels online, Rosanna Falconer, head of digital at Matthew Williamson, and Natalie Thng, senior vice president of digital and customer relationship manager at Temperley London, agreed that giving a glimpse into the lifestyle of the labels’ designers on social media is a draw for customers. “We try and capture Matthew’s personality to differentiate ourselves,” said Falconer. She said Williamson is “addicted” to Instagram, posting everything from shots of white roses blooming in his garden to sketches of his designs on the social networking site. Falconer added that she then connects with customers who enquire about products on the label’s Instagram account by asking them to email her.

Morton of Lyst noted that a link to purchase items shown in Instagram’s artsy pictures is one of the most requested features on the app, and he believes that “social media companies are thinking about integrating commerce” into their business models.

Yaverbaun of Facebook said in a keynote speech that against the backdrop of fast-developing technology, she believes firms need to work to re-establish a personal connection with consumers. “We need to move away from the culture of disrupting and start connecting, making marketing personal again,” she said. She pointed to her own online engagement with The North Face when buying their ski wear, noting that the label now anticipates what products she will need for which season. “They listen to the consumer,” she said.

Also among the speakers at the summit was Alicia Navarro, the chief executive officer and co-founder of Skimlinks, which enables publishers to be rewarded as affiliates when their content drives consumers to purchase from retailers and brands. Navarro, whose firm works with newspapers such as The Independent and the Mirror in the U.K., said that she increasingly sees publishers distinguishing between traditional “pure” news content and monetized content, which allows publishers to be rewarded for linking to a product that can be purchased online.

“There’s been a huge shift and publishers are embracing commercially-aided content,” she said.

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