Topshop vs Burberry is not something you see every day. The brands are at complete opposite ends of the fashion spectrum: Topshop is an affordable high street retailer and Burberry is one of Britain’s great heritage brands. However, in a world focused on instant social media and fast fashion, how is London leading the way in responsive, innovative fashion?
Burberry hit the headlines in 2012 when they opened their revolutionary flagship store at 121 Regent Street. Packed with technology and restructuring the customer journey to shift sales online allowed the store to expand its front-of-house area and become known as one of the most forward-thinking brands of the 21st century. Coupled with its expansion strategy, focusing on emerging markets and identifying a huge demand for Burberry in the Far East, there are now more Burberry stores in China and South Korea than the USA and UK combined.
However four years on, how does a brand keep their reputation for innovation? In 2009, they became the first designer to live stream their catwalk show online and in February of this year CEO Christopher Bailey announced pieces from each collection will be available to buy online by the time the model reaches the end of the catwalk. Tom Ford, Tommy Hilfiger and Topshop are also following suit, having announced plans to implement a ‘see now, buy now’ catwalk in their upcoming SS17 London Fashion Week shows.
Where Paris revels in the exclusive, London is thriving on the inclusive. Technology has long been an enemy to the fashion industry but it is clear high street brands are shifting into ‘future mode’, realising there is a huge potential in inclusivity. 2002 saw Topshop collaborate with NEWGEN to celebrate emerging talents and to date remains the only high street show at London Fashion Week. We’re used to seeing Superdry JPN, Donna Karan NY and now, it’s all about LDN.
Topshop has the potential to impact the high street in a way no other retailer has taken advantage of. Its Oxford Street flagship store hosts a plethora of events, live DJs and store-within-store concepts; their social media strategy focuses on involvement and keeps potential customers on the edge of their seats, revealing 7 occasional seconds of upcoming trends on Snapchat.
For Burberry, these things are indeed achievable however as a high-end label, will its strides to evolve with technology rather than against it go unnoticed? For Topshop, the potential is greater but its younger target market is subsequently more critical and naturally asking, what’s next?