The five entrepreneurial takeaways from London Fashion Week

The last supermodel may’ve done her last turn on the catwalk but there’s still plenty of insights startups can take away from London Fashion Week

The five entrepreneurial takeaways from London Fashion Week

For a few days every autumn, world-renowned designers, street style photographers and fashionistas descend upon the Big Smoke to attend London Fashion Week. In the days and weeks that follow, the press runs red hot with stories about the biggest takeaways from these sartorial celebrations. Depending on who you ask, this year’s event could’ve just as easily have been about diversity, sex or rejection of conservatism.

However, the new black for Elite Business will always be what entrepreneurs can learn from London Fashion Week. Luckily, there are plenty of goodies for founders to take away from the show.

(1) Less is more

Anyone who’s ever watched Ben Stiller’s fashion comedy Zoolander may think designers always try to upstage each other’s shows with bigger and better stunts. However, it seems as if that’s no longer the case. “This year’s London Fashion Week saw fashion brands take their shows back to basics,” said Lisa Marie Rae, senior director of entertainment content at Getty Images, the stock image platform, speaking with Elite Business. “Rather than create show-stopping, Insta-worthy stunts – like Chanel’s 2015 airport – shows were pared-back and focused on putting beautiful tailoring front and centre.” And according to her, this may be for the best as clean photos always have a bigger impact than ones where the product isn’t given space to shine. “Being true to your brand will ultimately make the quality of what you offer shine through,” Rae explained. “Focus on what you’re good at and what your customer wants, not what’s going to make you go viral.” So keep it simple.

(2) Nothing beats face-to-face interactions

In a world where everyone is constantly connected to the rest of the globe via their smartphones, being real has tremendous value. “This year’s London Fashion Week highlights some fundamental truths about why in today’s increasingly digital world, live, face-to-face experiences are becoming ever more valuable to business,” Jez Paxman, creative strategy director at Live Union, the events agency, told Elite Business. He argued that live events can really help founders set the agenda. “The value to the attendee isn’t just in physically attending the event but the content they’re able to share via social media before, during and after,” Paxman explained. So while digital is great, take time to meet your customers in the flesh.

(3) Keep your finger on the pulse

No matter if you’re running a fintech startup or a microbrewery, staying up to date with current trends is crucial to keep ahead of your competitors. This is something Sonia Pash, managing director of Temza, the interior design studio, knows all too well. “[I can’t] afford to ignore the connection of interior design and fashion,” she told Elite Business. “[The] colours and patterns of the fashion world is the single biggest influence on furniture and interior design. People are looking for spaces to represent their lifestyle, so whatever colours will be on the runway this year will influence our clients when it comes to their new wallpaper or curtain fabrics. Myself and my designers need to be on the top of it and follow the fashion trends.” Similarly, entrepreneurs in other fields must keep themselves updated with the going-ons in their space or risk ending up on the rubbish pile next to last season’s Dolce Gabbana dress or scorched on Burberry’s flaming mound of merchandise. 

(4) Stay social

Whenever events like London Fashion Week come along, your social media feed will light up more than Tom Ford’s sparkling sequin Beverly Hills jumpers. But if you play your cards right, your startup could end up with a lot more clients. Advising on just how you can do that, Kirsty Brice, marketing director EMEA at 4C Insights, the marketing technology company, said: “Utilising social media during events with significant influencers plays to brands’ ability to connect their promotions from on the ground during events, across varying channels and get their message to the right people, in the right place, at the right time. It enables those not present to engage with their favourite brands and feel part of the hype surrounding events such as London Fashion Week, which aren’t necessarily broadcasted widely on TV or online video platforms.” So the next time you see a big event come around, have a think about how you can make your brand a part of the conversation.

(5) Don’t forget the foreign market

Globalisation is a fact and small-business owners cannot afford to stay out of touch with markets overseas. So you better consider how you can reach foreign audiences. Fortunately, London Fashion Week offered some hot tips for you to do just that. “Burberry’s focus on not only Instagram but WeChat, [the Chinese social media network,] speaks volumes about the savviness of the global brand,” said Abi Jacks, director of marketing UK at Rakuten Marketing, the digital marketing service provider. As Brand Britain keeps going strong abroad, knowing where potential consumers are will serve you well. “WeChat is the most mature platform for combining social and commerce, it’s also a crucial part of engaging lucrative Asia-Pacific audiences,” Jacks added. “Equally, Instagram is having more and more impact on Western buyers’ decisions every day, with the app leading a quarter of its UK users to make a purchase based on content they’ve seen.”

While many of the clothes parading the catwalks at London Fashion Week may not be available until spring, there’s nothing stopping you from using these insights to make your business a success right now.

Eric Johansson
Eric Johansson

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