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Harrods, Mr Porter broadcast London Fashion Week to show versatility

January 9, 2014


British retailers have become media themselves this London Fashion Week by creating their own content around the menswear shows to demonstrate their involvement in the events.

Both Harrods and Mr Porter have been updating their social media accounts, as well as their Web sites, with photos and videos of the fashion shows they attended, giving their followers backstage accounts of the productions. By becoming a part of the online conversation surrounding London Fashion Week, these retailers are able to show their place within the fashion industry by providing insider information.

"It makes sense for retailers like Harrods and Mr Porter to cover Fashion Week in-depth because it solidifies their positioning as an authority on fashion, a trusted advisor to their customers, and a fashion resource, not only a place to buy," said Karen Pattani-Hason, new business and partnerships director at Aurnhammer, New York.

"Retailers stand to gain a lot from being involved in the social media conversations around Fashion Week, as it shows customers they are helping to set trends, not only selling them," she said.

"Consumers often resort to social media for validation by their friends and other fashion resources, and it’s strategic for retailers to be part of that validation process.  Fashion consumers that follow London Fashion Week are tastemakers, and want to confer with other tastemakers when making purchasing decisions.

"It’s key for retailers to build their credibility by participating in these social conversations in order to build awareness, interest and consideration with this audience, engaging them higher up in the sales funnel."

Commerce meets content

Mr Porter began its London Fashion Week coverage on Twitter, with a post showing the Burberry invitation, mentioning to its followers that it would be tweeting from the shows. Following that was a dedicated post on both Facebook and Twitter telling followers it would be tweeting and posting to Instagram using the branded hashtag #MrPortershows.

Tweet from Mr Porter

In between posts of runway shows with commentary, the retailer gave its followers an idea of its day at fashion week, showing its point of view as it traveled from one show to another, or showing the venue before the Burberry show as the audience mingled before getting seated.

Instagram post from Mr Porter

Mr Porter engaged with the attendees at the Christopher Raeburn and Richard James shows by handing out branded portable televisions encased in a paper box, produced in conjunction with British technology company VideoPak. The retailer screened 20 minutes of video, including a montage of British fashion editors recounting some of their sartorial mistakes, along with films telling viewers how to care for their footwear, commute in style and choose the right underwear.

Tweets from Mr Porter

Mr Porter discovered VideoPak half a year before unveiling its own, deciding that London Collections: Men was the opportune time to do so, as a way to entertain the crowd with content as they stood around waiting for a show to begin.

At previous LCM shows, Mr Porter had distributed its newspaper The Mr Porter Post, so this move took that concept and adapted it digitally.

Harrods posted before London Fashion Week to clue its followers that it would be posting about the menswear shows.

Facebook post from Harrods

Most of the retailer’s live coverage came from Twitter, where it posted looks from the runway and backstage shots. Harrods also trendspotted for its followers, telling them what it saw in multiple collections.

Tweet from Harrods

Harrods consistently used the official hashtag for the event, #LCM, representing London Collections: Men.

Harrods also posted images to its Instagram, focusing on the photographic moments of the shows.

Instagram post from Harrods

Harrods also live-streamed Burberry’s show on its Web site, linking to the page in a Facebook post that showcased an image of the brand’s invitation.

Facebook post from Harrods

Harrods has told its Twitter followers that it is done posting about London Fashion Week, which has ended, but will pick up the content in Milan.

Broadcasting aspects of London Fashion Week was a way for these retailers to keep a conversation going with their followers, giving them interesting content beyond the typical shots within the store.

"Social media channels lends themselves well for luxury fashion brands because they are visual platforms—photography and video content are king—and luxury brands are able to engage with their audience by showcasing and highlighting the latest fashion trends direct from fashion week," said Christine Kirk, CEO of Social Muse Communications, Los Angeles.

"With social media, consumers are now granted an all-access pass to what goes on behind the scenes of fashion week direct from the retailers themselves," she said. "There is no media filter or blogger opinion to get in the way of the information a consumer gets because it's coming direct from the source itself.

"Many retailers might also restrict certain information that a media outlet or blogger can get for fear of their messaging getting muddled, but with the use of social media tools, a luxury retailer has more control than ever when disseminating their content and communicating directly with their shoppers."

Social participation

Retailers can take advantage of events that generate social media buzz by creating their own content and reacting to fan generated posts.

Department stores Barneys and Bergdorf Goodman increased engagement with their highly-trafficked holiday window displays with Instagram components that likely hiked global awareness.

Barneys revealed its windows by posting videos on Instagram, and Bergdorf Goodman hosted a contest on the photo- sharing application. Through Instagram both department stores expanded their holiday festivities and spirit beyond Manhattan (see story).

Social media campaigns helped Harrods and Mr Porter's sister site Net-A-Porter come in first and second place in Luxury Daily's 2013 Awards.

London department store Harrods is Luxury Daily’s 2013 Retailer of the Year for its exuberant in-store events, eclectic collaborations and its ever-present attitude on social media.

Harrods won over runner’s-up Net-A-Porter by demonstrating that the in-store environment is still essential and can be rescued with shrewd positioning, a unified digital presence and energized interactions with consumers. These retailers surpassed other contenders because of the vitality that courses through their many interfaces and by lifting the bar for mobile and ecommerce (see story).

Both retailers were smart to bring their own fashion week content to their consumers.

"Executed properly, social media involvement will be very beneficial for retailers," Ms. Pattani-Hason said.

"While there is a lot of fashion-related content in the market, in magazines, blogs and more, retailers have the advantage of being able to sell the items they’re talking about, which is an advantage to consumers as well," she said.

Final Take
Sarah Jones, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York