Models on the catwalks at London and New York Fashion Week are now surrounded not just by the great and the good of the world’s glossy magazines. Increasingly, the iPad and the iPhone are the devices that record each show, and technology in general is used to bring a global audience closest to the action.
That means collections going on sale online as soon as they are first presented to the world, and sometimes even before. Photographers are using apps such as Instagram to capture evocative pictures of Fashion Week, and journalists and editors are using the iPad to sketch their immediate impressions of favourite looks. Twitter has even gone so far as to sign up top designer Matthew Williamson: he’ll be using its Vine video app to deliver what it’s claimed are unique behind-the-scenes insights.
Fashion photographer Uzo Oleh says: “The iPhone and iPad are changing the way people consume fashion. Five years ago pictures had to look great on a desktop computer because that’s what the majority of people used. Now more people make decisions based on pictures and websites seen from their iPhones or iPads.”
Much of this is led by Apple’s minimalist aesthetic but, he adds, perhaps dauntingly: “Anyone can be a photographer now. iPhone is like pen and paper. It’s inexpensive and ubiquitous.”
Apple’s iOS remains the operating system that generates the most revenue for app developers. Topshop reports that it has seen “exponential” growth through its app, even claiming it is the most successful retail app in the United Kingdom today.
The group’s chief marketing officer, Justin Cooke, even goes so far as to talk about Apple being part of the brand’s DNA, with sales, buying and online and social media staff all using Apple.
That’s not, however, a blindly made decision. The group says it makes financial sense, and it’s not unaware of the competition. This season Topshop also partnered Google’s social network, Google+, in a bid to re-imagine “the future of the fashion show” at its show from The Tanks at Tate Modern. Models even wore high-definition cameras to give viewers a unique perspective.
Cooke’s boss, Philip Green, says: “We have always prided ourselves on being first to market with the latest trends and product innovation.”
For all aspects of the show there’s an obvious commercial motivation, enabled by technology. As Cooke puts it: “With everything from the nail polish to the music instantly purchasable and sharable this really is the future of the fashion show.”
It’s the increased revenue that means he could be right and much of that, for now, will come through Apple devices.
At the shows, many use a popular app called Paper for sketches and Apple says Fashion GPS is used by 92 per cent of fashion editors to manage the logistics of getting the right people into the right seats as fast as possible. For the first time this year it’s being used to share pictures, too, just as Getty Images is starting to sell Instagram photos taken with iPhones in the same way it sells professional images from photographers wielding £5000 cameras.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.