Fashion gets social

When Miranda Kerr opened the David Jones spring-summer collection launch on Tuesday night wearing a banana-print Lisa Ho dress split to the thigh, 12,000 people watched a live stream of the supermodel strutting her stuff on the department store's Facebook page.

Yesterday more consumers became acquainted with the new-season collections when DJs held two fashion shows for VIP customers at its Elizabeth Street flagship store, and today the retailer will stage a live window display at the same store featuring models Jessica Gomes, Montana Cox and Samantha Harris.

Tonight Myer will also live stream its spring-summer fashion launch, giving people at home a chance to take a virtual front-row seat as designers including Jayson Brunsdon, Karen Walker and Yeojin Bae take their own seats to watch Jennifer Hawkins open the fashion extravaganza at the Hordern Pavilion.

Online, customers can follow Myer and David Jones on Pinterest and Instagram. In the real world, when the consumer-focused Fashion Festival Sydney opens next week, Myer will restage its industry-only collections launch for the public, allowing customers to watch the show in person and then go to Myer and buy.

The traditional purpose of a collections launch is to promote new-season clothing to the media, but both stores concede there is a need to communicate more directly to the people who buy the clothes. In the challenging economic climate, the once industry-only events are now focused on a more inclusive approach aimed at rejuvenating retail in Sydney and beyond.

''It's important to showcase collections to the industry, but it's now equally as important to engage the customer,'' says the general manger of publicity at Myer, Steven Carey.

''Digital and social media have become such an important part around launching a collection and the streaming allows [customers] to watch the show from 7.45pm at myer.com.au and then buy it online straight away or get up first thing and go into a Myer store.''

Donna Player, group executive of merchandise for David Jones, agrees connecting more effectively with customers represents the best way forward during rocky times for retail.

''It's all around giving customers more reason to love shopping with DJs,'' she says.

To this end DJs is televising Tuesday's fashion launch in partnership with Foxtel's Arena channel, which will air it as a one-hour program on Monday night.

''All viewers will get a backstage pass to everything that happened on the night, from behind the scenes, to the models and the fashion, the whole production,'' Player says.

David Jones designers Bridget Yorston and Becky Cooper agree the current environment is challenging for retailers. The duo's Bec & Bridge fashion brand can be found in 236 stores around the world, but they are yet to open a single Bec & Bridge boutique in Sydney.

''Retail is a little bit hard at the moment, as we've all been told, so I don't think we'll rush into opening a store,'' Yorston says.

''We may as well stick with what's going well and not expose ourselves too much to any risk.''

Yorston and her business partner, Cooper, are instead focused on selling online and through international wholesale accounts in countries including China, France, Germany and the US, where the brand is stocked in 79 stores alone.

''Just this year we've had [American department stores] Saks and Nordstrom pick us up, so we are thrilled,'' Yorston says.

''I know that obviously it's tough out there but we've worked hard to keep our price points accessible and to make our customers feel that they are getting … bang for their buck.''

To help designers such as Yorston and Cooper boost sales in Sydney, the City of Sydney council is also taking a consumer focus with a new campaign aimed at enticing the public to shop in inner-city stores.

The Sydney is Fashion initiative brings three fashion events together under one umbrella in a $440,000 program of events taking place this month and next.

The Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival Sydney opens on August 21, and Vogue Fashion's Night Out and the History Council's annual History Week, this year called Threads and with a fashion focus, will take place next month. All will receive the combined funding and support from City of Sydney in an attempt to boost sales.

''Economic conditions have been tough for retailers … so we're taking a creative approach to celebrating our city's fashion culture,'' Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore says.

History Week will include a fashion exhibition for the public at Customs House, Vogue Fashion's Night Out is a shopping evening and the Fashion Festival Sydney includes runway shows and parties to which anyone can buy a ticket.

''It's great to get consumers excited about fashion for the upcoming season and make them feel a little bit more included in it all,'' Yorston says of the Sydney is Fashion campaign.

''We've been fortunate in our position in the market … but we hear that a lot of people might be struggling. Events like this stimulate people to show their support for Australian retail.''

From: The Sydney Morning Herald

The story Fashion gets social first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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