With Vogueunveiling its Snapchat discovery channel for New York Fashion Week and Alphabet's (GOOGL) - Get ReportGoogle giving designers the option to create custom search carousels to support their participation in the event, it's clear the fashion world is embracing technology.
One designer that's been a pioneer of integrating fashion and technology is Rebecca Minkoff, and her efforts at this year's New York Fashion Week displayed her commitment to using new tech to provide a better experience for consumers.
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Minkoff livestreamed her show in 360 Virtual Reality. This gave shoppers worldwide a front-row seat. Those with virtual reality goggles and glasses decided where they wanted to look and what they wanted to engage with. They could fully immerse themselves in the event.
But Minkoff went beyond livestreaming and virtual reality. She also partnered with Zeekit, a mobile app that enables users to preview Minkoff's newest looks on their own bodies. Using Zeekit, a shopper can upload a photo of herself, and then the app overlays whichever clothing items the user selects from the fall show.The app uses augmented reality to give shoppers an idea of how their favorite fashions will look on their own bodies instead of on a runway model.
This is a wise move by Minkoff, as it will increase consumer confidence substantially, which should drive sales -- especially online. In July, Onestop Internet commissioned a study in which 38% of respondents said finding the perfect fit while ordering apparel online is a challenge either every time or more than half the time.
When you can visualize a particular item -- and in a specific size -- on your own body, you're inherently going to be more confident that it will fit correctly in real life. As such, partnering with Zeekit should help increase digital conversions for Minkoff. That's especially true when you consider the fact that she's shifted her show schedule so that most designs are available for purchase immediately after they're shown.
Minkoff was the first designer to start doing in-season fashion shows to better align runway activity with retail sales. Traditionally, designers unveil new collections during two annual runway shows, about six months before those items are available in stores. The problem with this cycle is that it fails to consider the end consumer and the threat that fast fashion brands like H&M and Zara pose. A fashion-forward shopper -- the precise shopper Minkoff markets to -- doesn't want to fall in love with a dress during a runway show and then not be able to buy it for six months.
The decision to tailor its runway show schedule to better suit consumer demand was a savvy one. According to Women's Wear Daily, the brand's New York store had its highest sales day ever after it switched up its show schedule last year. Furthermore, the company's sales for the two-week post-show period at its top five accounts - Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom Saks Fifth Avenue and Shopbop -- were up 213% in retail sales dollars compared to the previous year.
Between partnering with Zeekit to increase consumer confidence and making its runway collection available for immediate purchase, Rebecca Minkoff is positioned for a successful post-show sales period. The brand should report even higher revenue than it did during the same period after its spring show.
Nearly two years ago Minkoff opened stores in New York and San Francisco that feature oversize screens where shoppers can browse available merchandise and request specific items to try on. The store then texts the shopper when his or her fitting room is available. The fitting rooms have touch screen mirrors so he or she can request more items and/or ask for assistance without having to leave the room.
This is a brilliant use of technology for three reasons:
First of all, it makes the shopping experience more convenient for the consumer. Nobody enjoys awkwardly peeping their head outside of the fitting room in an effort to track down a sales associate.
Secondly, it enables Minkoff to track consumer behavior at brick and mortar locations, which is notoriously difficult to do.
Finally, it encourages consumers to spend more time in the store, which means shoppers that arrived with no intention of making a purchase are inherently more likely to end up buying something because they spent more time exploring the merchandise.
Would partnering with an app that allows shoppers to virtually try-on clothing and introducing touch screens work for every brand? Probably not. But this speaks to how well Rebecca Minkoff understands her core audience -- namely tech-savvy, fashion-forward millennial women.
Minkoff has succeeded in connecting with millennial women because of her decisions to leverage technology in ways that not only serve a tangible purpose, but also feel authentic to the brand's DNA.
Other designers looking to connect with younger audiences could learn from Minkoff.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.