Thursday, 14 February 2013

TopShop and Google+ Partnership for Autumn Winter 2013: Innovative Fashion or Fashionable Technology?

TopShop’s partnering with Google+ to deliver digital content for its Autumn Winter 2013 show has caused a high-pitched stir of excitement in the fashion circles. For the first time ever, we can experience the catwalks through the models’ eyes, pretend to be a fashion buyer and even communicate with the backstage design teams!

Whilst this is all excellent, a fashion brand using digital platforms to create innovative customer experiences is nothing revolutionary – the likes of Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Net-a-Porter have already laid that path. And the focus on Topshop is obstructing the significance of the other brand here – Google. 

This is not the first time it ventures into fashion, for example having paired with Diane von Furstenburg in 2012 to create models’ view images with Google Glass (apparently Sergey Brin himself took to the stage wearing the eye-camera!). A decade ago it would have been unthinkable for a serious tech brand to have an all but superficial sponsorship-led role in fashion, but the worlds of both tech and brands are changing. 

On the one hand tech firms have realized that although functionality is king in their category, building deeper emotional engagement with customers helps cement the brand’s dominant market position. The combination of superior functionality and truly outstanding emotive branding is what keeps Apple at the top of its game. Similarly, Google’s moving ‘The Web Is What You Make It’ campaign appeals to our soft and fluffy side rather than highlighting technological benefits.

Brands, on the other hand, are becoming more ‘functional.’ They are as emotional as ever at the core, but instead of the traditional one-way projection of their values through advertising, they now seek to engage with customers through creating tangible, shared experiences through content marketing. In the digital age, this requires digital know-how so tech firms are obvious partners.   

The web is [indeed] what you make it, and both TopShop and Google are using the tools available to them to each create something entirely new. Traditionally fashion has been branding’s more obvious playground, but tech is not far behind. 

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