Visually, this year’s event will also look bigger than ever thanks to organiser The British Fashion Council’s partnership with the New West End Company (NWEC), which is soon to launch a £25m “I♥NY-style” brand revamp of Oxford Street to “Ox St.” in a bid to make both Londoners and tourists reappraise the shopping district.
To activate the collaboration, NWEC is erecting seventy-five 12-foot flags on Oxford Street featuring images of the latest styles from British fashion industry designers. It estimates the flags will be seen by more than 12 million shoppers in the 17-day period of their tenure, which also includes London Fashion Week that takes place from 13 September.
During that period, some of the most internationally recognisable flagship retailers on Oxford Street – including Topshop, Selfridges, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, House of Fraser and H&M – will hold a range of in-store events including talks with designers, styling sessions, workshops, celebrity DJ sessions and giveaways to allow consumers without tickets to the famous catwalks to experience the event. Oxford Street itself is also understood to be hosting its first ever catwalk, sponsored by one of the retailers.
Elsewhere, principal sponsor Vodafone will build on its approach of offering customers exclusive access to every show at Somerset House, with a “VIP experience” to accompany it as it looks to offer access to something others “would not normally be able to get the inside track on”, a spokesman says.
Jenico Preston, head of sponsorship at the British Fashion Council, says sponsors have “significantly” increased their levels of activation across advertising, digital, in-store and on-pack this year.
He adds: “One other obvious trend is that an increasing number of sponsors who had previously only activated through our flagship events are now jointly developing year-round activity [including Vodafone, Mercedes-Benz, eBay Fashion, Canon and American Express]…the nature of fashion and the creative media savvy people powering it means that sponsors can use fashion content to credibly message across most platforms, more often and in ever more inventive ways.”
As an example of this trend, London Fashion Week has launched its first branded product line across 5,000 salons in 40 countries in partnership with Toni&Guy in a bid to increase awareness of the event among consumers at home and abroad.
Another sponsor adopting a more year-round approach is The Evening Standard. In partnership with NWEC it will launch a new section called Shop London, which will launch during London Fashion Week. The newspaper plans to grow the section beyond the event and is currently exploring how it can create a segment on its soon-to-be-launched local TV channel London Live, that could be “shoppable” with a second screen device.
Jon O’Donnell, Evening Standard commercial director, says: “For us London Fashion Week gets bigger and bigger every year and we’re giving it more space in the paper, especially as the events have become more accessible. Last year you saw the first live streams to help more people feel more involved. It used to be just reserved for your high-end fashionista, but now a lot more people are interested, more designers are getting involved [in consumer activity] and it’s a bit less elitist.”