IMG Fashion recently presented a new way of involving consumers in this year’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia.
The concept, essentially an e-commerce boutique, allowed viewers who watched the runway shows in-person or online to purchase the items from the designers’ collections as they came down the runway, months before the clothes are available in-store.
An online platform was set up on the MBFW website to host the purchases, and in collaboration with ShopReply consumers could even text or tweet to purchase items. In addition, a pop-up shop was opened on location with iPads connected to the online service to showcase collections and introduce the concept to the audience.
The focus of the e-commerce idea is to create a “shopable experience” through a “digital landscape.” IMG believes this gives consumers a “see now, buy now” mentality that can change the typical structure of fashion weeks.
“Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia is the first event in our family of global platforms that adopts this new technology. The initiative helps convert consumer interest into commercial outcomes for our designers,” says Catherine Bennett, senior vice-president and managing director of IMG Fashion Events and Properties.
Designer Krystal Davis of IXIAH explains that every designer who participated in MBFW Australia was extended an invitation to take part in the new boutique, and IXIAH offered six pieces exclusively through the e-commerce boutique. The designers were also given the option to pre-stock their items or allow consumers to pre-order, which gave them eight weeks to produce the pieces and deliver them to the consumer.
“It’s a great way to showcase the brand directly to the consumer,” says Davis. Although the final sales data is not available yet, she thinks it was worth the participation, due to brand exposure and opportunities for direct consumer interaction.
Toronto-based Ana Caracaleanu, who is the co-founder of Luevo, a company that supports emerging designers, agrees that this is an effective way to market designers and help them get noticed in the industry. She thinks incorporating this event into other fashion shows around the world is important to emerging designers.
However, she sees a couple of kinks that would need to be ironed out in order for the boutique to work successfully. For example, pre-stocking collections can cause financial issues for designers who are just starting out, and the actual effectiveness would be very dependent on the type of audience and event.
“It’s just a matter of capturing the interest of the audience right there and then,” says Caracaleanu. In her opinion, it’s best to have an audience that supports the designers, and she says that marketing is critical to the success of the e-commerce boutique. She adds that if something similar were to come to Toronto, she could work on the marketing aspect to match designers with target audiences.
As IMG Fashion’s global offerings evolve, Catherine Bennet says, “it’s important to us that we continue to provide designers with the necessary tools to reach the industry and to engage the consumer in the early stages of a collection’s lifespan.”
Davis adds that social media played a big part in people finding out about the e-commerce boutiques. “It increases brand awareness, sales and revenue for all parties involved. I think it is a fantastic dynamic to add [the technology] to fashion week and [involve] the general public,” she says.