Posted by Melanie Rickey, Fashion Editor at Large

From this Friday through next Tuesday it is London Fashion Week.  Yes, again. Only this is a fashion week that would have been unimaginable ten years ago when proceedings were trade-only. For the duration of this one, should you be so inclined, you can settle down at home or office with laptop and a cup of tea (or Champagne to really get in the mood) and watch 70% of the shows live on You Tube  and follow the goings on in real time via Instagram and Twitter with the #LFW tag. But what if there was an even more instant, fun, integrated and most-importantly shoppable way to consume real time fashion shows online?

Step forward Topshop. These vexing thoughts have been occupying the creative thinkers over there for some time, not least because theirs are the most digitally engaged and enthusiastic customers in the omni-channel marketplace of 2013.

Last September the brand, which holds a London Fashion Week show for its influential Unique range and funds a number of young designers through the New Gen scheme, hit paydirt with a Facebook collaboration. The link up enabled two million of Topshop’s digital users in 100 countries to view the Unique show and to share it instantly via their Facebook pages, download the music, buy the lipstick and pre-order and recolour items of the collection. Oh, and one more thing, when the data was crunched it turned out two million was the magic number that made it the most watched catwalk show ever.

Gaining such global traction was like a drug to the two relatively new brooms heading up the artistic output of the brand, namely Creative Director Kate Phelan who joined from Vogue and the former Burberry executive Justin Cooke, now Topshop’s Chief Marketing Officer.  Having mined the possibilities of Facebook, Cooke and Phelan approached Google +, the social networking arm of Google and now, with Sunday’s 3pm show streaming from the vaults of the Tate Modern, aim to reimagine the future of the fashion show experience by putting it out on Topshop’s own website, its You Tube Channel, with curation of all content on its Google + page. Or as Justin Cooke puts it “we will give you whatever you want, however you want it. We want to connect with the emotional side of the show.” 

The look of the Topshop website for Google hook-up
If all goes well, that emotional connection will reap dividends as the digital activity is measurable, from stats and locations of users, to their likes, dislikes and preferences. Not to mention a heads up of what their customers wants to buy from Topshop, and tracts of new users for Google +.

This morning I was at London's Google towers for breakfast with the team behind the project at the precise moment restrictions were lifted from the embargoed press release, and the atmosphere was crackling with excitement. This is groundbreaking for both Google and Topshop and the logistics are verging on terrifying. I will be hosting the Google Hangouts, a multi-person digital chat on Friday at 4pm with Kate Phelan and Unique's designers, and again from 2.30 live from the red carpet at Tate Modern, the show venue. 

As previously, there is music, nail polish and clothes to buy plus a show to watch, 
but what I adore about this is the opportunity for total immersion in the catwalk experience. I predict a meltdown of the ‘Model Cam’ option, which sees supermodels and best friends Cara Delevingne and Jourdan Dunn given outfits embedded with mini HD micro-cameras which will allow us all to see a models-eye view of backstage, those scary flashbulb popping steps out onto the runway and whatever it is models get up to backstage. The Model Cam will also be worn by Topshop's newest model discoveries the British 17 year old Rosie Tapner and New Zealander Ashleigh Good, who are writing digital diaries of their fashion show experience for
Rosie Tapner (
Ashleigh Good (
For those wanting a more fashion professional slant on the action, I recommend the Be The Buyer App, enabling users to curate the collection and get tips from the buyers on how to put looks together. I’m pretty darn excited to be working on the project with Topshop and Google and will get to see the whole thing in action and will report back. “This has the potential to be digitalwildfire,” says Cooke. I don’t doubt it for a minute. 

A shorter version of this piece appears over on The Guardian 


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