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Sam Langley-Swain, Strategy Director

London Fashion Week may be home to some of the biggest fashion labels in the world, but this year all eyes have been on Topshop. The fashion retailer brought a ‘world’s first in telepresence and virtual reality’ to London Fashion Week 2014.

Sitting amongst high fashion competition in the form of Mulberry, Burberry and Tom Ford, the Topshop Unique show at London Fashion Week is always a hugely popular event. Not just because of their highly wearable collections; but because the retailer always pushes the boundaries to make their live runway shows accessible to fans and shoppers all over the world.

LFW14 saw Topshop take their customers into a world of high fashion virtual reality in the Oxford Street flagship.

Topshop LFW14 virtual reality

Shoppers were given specially commissioned 3D headsets – complete with quirky Topshop designs –to view the catwalk show and Tate Modern in all its glory. Participants have a 360-degree virtual world allowing them to watch models walk right past them, and even see which famous faces they were ‘sat next to’ at the show.

Topshop said on their website:

“Here at Topshop we’re all about fashion fashion fashion, but we’re also a bit geeky at heart and love to combine beautiful design with the latest and greatest technology. This London Fashion Week, we joined forces with ground-breaking technology agency, Inition, to create a complete virtual reality world of our Topshop Unique AW14 show!”
This virtual reality experience from the retailer didn’t just stay in-store, though. Shoppers unable to visit the flagship could see all the action on Twitter and Instagram via the hashtag #TopshopGoesVirtual.

Topshop LFW14 virtual reality

The brand also hosted a live Twitter Gallery on Topshop.com so that viewers could see all the behind-the-scenes images and up-to-the-minute updates on the catwalk. 360-degree images of the show were released as were Vine videos of the show, and users were also able to ‘shop the show’ and share key pieces the moment they hit the runway.

This isn’t the first time Topshop has pushed the retail boundaries at Fashion Week.

In October last year, the retailer partnered with Chirp to host a Twitter Garden in their Oxford Street flagship.

Retail goes virtual

As we move towards a more multichannel style of retailing, brands can certainly learn a lot from Topshop and the other brands at LFW14.

With customers increasingly engaging with brands in different ways and on different levels than ever before, it is hugely important to think outside the box. To appeal to modern customers, brands need a current approach.

They should be asking themselves:

  • Who are my target customers?
  • Where are they most engaged?
  • What content do they want to see?
  • When are they most engaged?
  • Why do they choose these platforms and content types?
  • How can we capture their attention in a new and innovative way

By stripping everything back in this way, brands and retailers can open up huge opportunities. This is the same approach that we at Green Room take when working on experiential and retail design concepts for many of our clients.

For example, we collaborated with Nike on the Mercurial experience booth project. Nike wanted an experiential pop-up space that appealed to their target market – “The Football Obsessed Teen” – and showcased their new football boot in a way that would appeal to them.

By asking and answering these questions, we created an immersive space that proved hugely popular with Nike’s target audience.

The retail landscape is changing, and so is the way brands interact with their customers. As Topshop continue to deliver immersive, digital experiences that bring the brand closer than ever before; it will certainly be interesting to see where things move in 2014 and beyond.

Image credit: Shutterstock