London designers target fashion-hungry shoppers with 'tech firsts'

Sun Sep 14, 2014 2:20pm EDT
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By Li-mei Hoang

LONDON - Fueled by the boom in online sales for the latest trends, London's designers are finding new ways to deliver instant gratification to fashion hungry shoppers, amid high hopes of boosting growth in the sector.

British retailer Topshop, whose website attracts an average of 4.5 million hits a week, launched a new digital "first" on Sunday by letting shoppers buy six ready-made items from its latest collection immediately after its show at London Fashion Week.

"As we know, everyone spends all their waking moments on all these new platforms, gadgets, Instagram and Twitter,” said Philip Green, the owner of Topshop brand and retail conglomerate Arcadia.

The speed of things reaching people is key to our business. You guys see it, wear it, buy it - that's what it's all about ... it’s sort of us being there, being first to market - that’s our job,” he told Reuters.

The collection, which featured brightly colored striped dresses, cycling jerseys and lame dresses in cotton, satin and leather, was live-streamed globally and unveiled exclusively on social networks Instagram and Facebook FB.O. It will be delivered to shoppers globally in the next few days.

Topshop's initiative is one example of "tech firsts" the British Fashion Council (BFC) hopes to champion as part of its efforts to encourage all of its designers to get online and grow their international sales.

After enlisting Google GOOGL.O UK Sales Director Peter Fitzgerald to help designers understand the importance of social media strategy, the BFC said it saw the number of brands with an e-commerce site rise to 43 percent from 33 percent in 2013.

"We're showing designers that the Internet is truly borderless and many of them are getting over half of their sales now from outside the UK," Fitzgerald told journalists via video link on Friday.   Continued...

Wearing a "Yes" badge, in reference to Scotland's independence referendum, a model presents a creation from the Vivienne Westwood Red Label Spring/Summer 2015 collection during London Fashion Week September 14, 2014. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett