As the Fall 2014 New York Fashion Week comes to a close, the industry will reflect on the street style, the runway looks, the celebs, music… and of course, the trends. Beyond the much-hyped Apple Watch debut, from the world’s biggest fashion company, there has been a prominence of one trend that is especially pertinent this fall, which is the integration of digital into fashion

The Runway Digitized & Online Streaming

Ralph Lauren disrupted the NYFW status quo and hosted a 4D holographic show to introduce the launch of Spring 2015 Polo for Women. Truly innovative, the water screen projection spanned the length of a four-story building and fused technology with fashion, digital arts and video to project holographic effects for hundreds of spectators.

“Ralph Lauren continues to push his company into the future, using technology as a way to keep his brands fresh and innovative and at the cutting edge of modernity, said David Lauren, EVP of global advertising, marketing and corporate communications.”

Another step into the fashion + digital frontier has been the prevalence of live streaming for all fashion shows. Yahoo Style and Mercedes-BenzFashionWeek.com are great examples of networks utilizing technology to bring NYFW directly to the consumers through apps. As social media and e-commerce have evolved, the common consumer has been granted access into the otherwise exclusive event.

A Fresh Look at Mobile Content + Commerce

At Centric Digital, we are big advocates in omni-channel and mobile-responsive design. With technology emerging like Twitter’s Buy Button,  Apple Pay and iBeacon technology, customers are encouraged to make purchases at the touch of the button (or watch) and increasingly through mobile. The result: Customers expect anywhere, anytime with immediate gratification. To keep up with this limited attention span, brands need to refocus e-commerce and prepare for the next wave of mobile shopping.  After taking a firm look at digital analytics, the team behind Mr. Porter relaunched their online magazine with a focus on creating content that engages customers and a mobile- first redesign. A key element was incorporating more scrolling navigation than clicking which will promote sales via tablet. Originally, their readers were accessing the Journal via desktop, but as users increasingly adopt tablet it was time to change the interface to better accommodate direct commerce on mobile. The team also discovered that the more a user spends time reading The Journal, the more they shop. All factors considered, Mr. Porter has done a stellar job designing a robust shopping experience to bring the luxury, in-store experience in the comfort of the shoppers’ palm all while curating content representative of the brand’s lifestyle and aesthetic.

As discussed before, 80% of tablet and smartphone users are now dual screening, using their phones while watching TV. NY startup TheTake looks to roll out a mobile application that provides the opportunity for shoppers to buy almost anything they’ve seen on screen in a feature film, or film trailer. In the same vein, Mr. Porter’s next mobile project will allow for consumers to buy items, designed from the film Kingsman: The Secret Service, by the same costume designer as they are watching the film and utilizing the second screen experience. Similarly, Clicktivated allows viewers to click on products directly in a playing video and purchase the item. This is an excellent way to give an audience purchasing power while engaging interactively within video.

Key takeaway: Engaging content, 1-click shopping and mobile- first design reign.

The Digital Experience Sells

Fashion Week is not just for press of new collections, but rather for the full immersion experience of the brand (cue the lights, music and catwalk). When your brand is your livelihood, it is essential to encapsulate and captivate the target audience. An average of $200,000 is speculated to be spent on each show, purely just to wow. An important synergy that the fashion industry has uncovered, is that customers also look to brands to provide a curated lifestyle. Beyond e-commerce, retail brands need to focus on anytime, anywhere with lifestyle. Farfetch, an online marketplace for independent fashion boutiques that raised a cool $66M earlier this year, provides an Open Table-like platform that connects shoppers to 300 boutiques from all over the world. José Neves, the founder of FarFetch, understands the millennial customer mindset that everything should be available online, even if the local boutique does not have that item in stock. Soon to be released, The Farfetch Discover app asks local boutique owners to give tips on neighborhood, extending the independent shopping experience past commerce and into lifestyle.

It’s all about attracting an audience — right time and right now.

Nearly all fashion brands are tapping into the visual mediums of social to drive awareness and publicity in a noisy week. In a time when so many brands are competing, Twitter and Instagram are the top contenders for real-time news of #NYFW. During this time, all companies focus their social media efforts to real-time platforms, like Twitter and Instagram, rather than platforms that focus on conversion,” said a source who has worked in the fashion and digital space for a decade.

In an industry that relies on visuals, the adoption of social media, specifically with Twitter and Instagram, have relinquished the red ropes around #NYFW. Fashion Week is transitioning from an industry- only event to a consumer- facing event with the help of bloggers, live social feeds, and tagging within images. New apps launched this month such as Hyperlapse from Instagram, and Twitter’s beta launch of a ‘Buy’ button  are intertwining social and commerce, placing the power of purchase directly to the consumer. While still in beta testing, Burberry is the first major luxury brand that has integrated Twitter’s new technology.

Determine your digital strategy

Disruptive businesses are continually evolving to stay relevant in the digital age. First things first, identify your target audience, design for the consumer and establish your brand. Second, live, breathe and sell the lifestyle of your brand to solidify the multi-dimensional experience being sold. Thirdly, create captivating content and contextual user experiences to back up your product or service. Mr Porter is able to sell expensive suits because they have developed content . Ralph Lauren was able to host a hologram light show because their brand is established, reputable and timeless. We recommend designing for mobile, think omni-channel, and to design for the consumer, which we all know is more than just technology.