Working hard for its spot among elite fashion destinations like New York and Milan, London Fashion Week, which begins Friday, Sept. 13, is morphing into not just a bigger event but a brand all its own.
For the first time, London Fashion Week will have its own branded product line, in association with Toni&Guy, plastering its logo on “label.m Professional Haircare” products. The line launches in September in the UK and in 2014 will expand to 41 countries, appearing in over 5,000 Toni&Guy and label.m salons. Caroline Rush, CEO of London Fashion Week’s parent, the British Fashion Council, tells the UK’s MarketingWeek, “This commercial collaboration marks a turning point in the way we have previously operated. By rolling out an exclusive branded product, we will be directly engaging with the consumer and sharing the London Fashion Week ‘behind-the-scenes’ expertise with the global market.”
There’s another strong motivation for creating a London Fashion Week brand: Generating more revenue from a wider audience.[more]
As the event has gained international prominence, it has become a marketing platform for both sponsors and participating brands. Vodafone has signed on as the event’s major sponsor and will offer its customers exclusive access to every show at Somerset House. While fashion brands routinely participate, such brands as American Express, Canon and Mercedes-Benz are on board as sponsors this year. According to Jenico Preston, the sponsorship head at the British Fashion Council, “an increasing number of sponsors who had previously only activated through our flagship events are now jointly developing year-round activity.”
LFW is getting an added boost from the UK’s own retailers as well. The New West End Company, partnering with the British Fashion Council, is kicking off a £25 million pound campaign in support of London’s Oxford Street, just in time for the event. British fashion industry designers will be promoted via giant flags on the street, and such retailers as H&M, Marks & Spencer, Selfridges and Topshop will hold in-store special events and promotions. Oxford Street is also likely to be hosting its first-ever catwalk at London Fashion Week.
Meanwhile, The Evening Standard will launcha new section, “Shop London,” in conjunction with the event, which the paper plans to continue publishing after LFW concludes. Evening Standard commercial director, Jon O’Donnell, told MarketingWeek that the event now has more traction with consumers. “Last year you saw the first live streams to help more people feel more involved. It used to be just reserved for your high-end fashionista, but now a lot more people are interested, more designers are getting involved and it’s a bit less elitist.”
Expect the participating retailers and fashion brands to heavily rely on digital technology and social media, as they did during last year’s event. Burberry, for example, gave consumers the ability to order anything they saw on the catwalk, straight from their mobile devices—complete with customization using the brand’s proprietary technology.