Decoded Fashion London – the 7 key themes from the conference

This time last week we were at Decoded Fashion, a fascinating conference about the meeting of fashion and tech. If you couldn’t make it, or if you were too busy checking out what your fellow attendees were wearing to take any notes (most stylish tech conference ever?), we thought you might like a catch-up. Here’s the Poq summary – and you can see key tweets from the day in our Storify.

 

1. Editorial and commerce got married

‘Everyone expects content to be shoppable now’ Paula Goldstein, Purple Magazine

This has been a trend for a while (just look at Net-A-Porter) but it’s more important than ever.

Take the new ASOS app, Fashion Up. It’s a weekly magazine that ties product into a compelling editorial narrative. Duncan Edwards from ASOS pointed out that they can track every single page their customers read – you don’t get that with a glossy mag.

2. Personalisation and curation

Key buzzwords. Many of the startups who pitched (including Nuji and Shopofme) aim to provide consumers with a personalised feed of products to shop from.

The luxury online boutique Avenue 32 emphasised their role as curators. They’re not just selling product, they’re creating a brand experience, putting emerging designers next to established ones and stocking interesting pieces that buyers pass over.

Related – Rosanna of Matthew Williamson pointed out that you can’t just blanket-seed the same content over every social media platform. Each one should have it’s own strategy.

3. It’s all about the experience – making your content emotional

Aiming to shift loads of product isn’t enough – it’s all about the experience, both online and in-store.

Angel Gambino told us how she helped to make Westfield Stratford a destination during the Olympics, a place where people wanted to spend time as well as money.

Justin Cooke from Topshop was the stand-out speaker of the day, giving a passionate presentation about the need for brands to connect with people emotionally. Content has to have value, whether that’s an amazing image or an immersive video experience (as Topshop provided with the live-streaming of their SS13 show).

It’s all about telling a story, not just jumping onto tech bandwagons for the sake of it. And as Justin put it – ‘You get the mind-share, you get the market-share’.

4. Luxury brands and social media are the perfect fit

Moda Operandi are a luxury online boutique selling product directly off the runway, with an average order value of $1,300, and an average customer age of 43. Initially they had no social media presence, feeling that it was the wrong fit for the brand, but following feedback from customers they are now on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr, with some impressive follower numbers.

Farfetch stressed that for luxury brands to be successful on social media, they have to be absolutely authentic in every communication.

5. Wealthy people use Facebook ‘disproportionately’ in comparison to other media

Tracy Yaverbaun is Director of Retail Fashion and Luxury Partnerships at Facebook. She discussed a new report commissioned by Facebook looking at the media usage of users with high net worth. Surprisingly, they found that these people use Facebook much more than they’d expected, and do connect with brands there although in an organic way (example: commenting on a image of a designer bag purchased by a younger relative)

6. Social media is about quality over quantity

There’s no point in collecting thousands of social media followers if they aren’t engaged.

Tracy from Facebook talked about the importance of targeting your communications, and gathering a real community rather than just randomly collecting fans. She also said that too many lightweight interactions could harm a brand.

Justin from Topshop made the same point from the other direction, saying that brands need to be incredibly thoughtful about how they contact their customers.

It’s all about Content/Community/Commerce, which Angel Gambino called ‘The Holy Trinity of Retail’.

7. Mobile is the future

Mobile and multi-channel retailing were huge themes throughout the day. (Duncan Edwards even gave his presentation from a phone!)

‘Mobile will overtake desktop in terms of traffic in the next few years’ Duncan Edwards, ASOS magazine

‘Mobile is essential in driving off-line shopping as well as online’ Erin Mullaney, Brand Director, Avenue 32

‘Mobile is critical for any business’ Tracy Yaverbaun, Director of Retail at Facebook

‘M&S incorporate mobile into all aspects of the customer journey, from retail to e-tail and back again’ Rosie Srao, Mobile BD Manager at M&S

‘40% of fashion-related searches this Christmas will be on mobile’ Martijn Bertisen, Senior Industry Head of Retail at Google

‘The future of fashion is mobile’ Caroline Issa, Fashion Director at Tank Magazine

Mobile is a vital element in multi-channel retailing – as essential for ‘real-life’ shopping as it is for online.

It’s also a way to add interest off-line. Tank magazine have released an app that turns the mag into a ‘pop-up book for adults’, with over 6 hours of video content you can discover by holding your phone over the pages.

Summary

If we had to sum up the whole day (not easy, as it was packed with information), we think these were the key messages:

  • Think Content – Community – Commerce and make sure you have the balance right.
  • Digital technologies and social media are just new ways to tell an old story. Content that evokes emotions will always be the best way to reach consumers.
  • Nobody needs anything that fashion brands sell – you have to make them want it.
  • The customer journey isn’t linear any more. You need to be able to connect with shoppers wherever they are.
  • The future of fashion is mobile – both online AND off-line.
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