Generation “I see it, I want it”

Sarah Flannery, head of display & paid social at Forward3D, outlines how tech is transforming fashion for the age of the “I see it, I want it” consumer

For years now, we've been able to order food, electronics, you name it, straight to our door with delivery times as fast as just one hour. 
At long last, thanks to advancements in both technology and social media, we can get the same instant gratification and warm feeling from the world of fashion, where fashion retailers are making it even quicker to purchase and receive items through same day shipping. 
Technology has had a huge impact on how the way consumers engage with the runway season and Fashion Week events across London, New York and Paris. From shoppable runways that allow us to buy new designs online as soon as the models step off the catwalk, to social media channels enabling a closer relationship between designer, brand and consumer. 
Using these channels, followers of fashion with a thirst for information and gossip, are able to discover and critique latest styles while getting a never before seen peek into the world of fashion via branded behind-the-scenes Instagram stories, Snapchat and on YouTube. 
The shows themselves are even streamed online so anyone around the world has access, not just the Anna Wintour's of the world. And for those who still want more, social media influencers such as The Balmain Army have huge fan bases that brands are desperate to tap into. 
Social influencers 
Fashion Week is seeing increasing collaboration between brands, social influencers and celebrity "brands". This is where Millennials look to for tips and recommendations, rather than traditional fashion publishers and advertising. The aim is to get everyone talking about your latest collections, not just the fashion editors to reach a wider, more current audience. 
According to the Fashion and Beauty Monitor's report on influencer marketing, more than 70% of luxury brands now use the technique. For brands, working with influencers provides an instant audience to which they are able to broadcast to and allows them to communicate the here and now in a way like never before. 
Influencers help brands to build trust and credibility among consumers who can be incredibly cynical about traditional marketing and advertising messages. 
Celebrity influencers include Kim Kardashian who appeared at New York Fashion Week in a figure-hugging black PVC dress and strappy heels ready to file her reports on the latest designs and models via Snapchat. 
And Gigi Hadid is not just a runway model promoting Tommy Hilfiger's designs; she is an Instagram personality in her own right with more than 35m followers. There are plenty of celebrity influencers in beauty too. 
Rihanna, for instance, launched her Fenty make-up range days before New York's Fashion Week (wearing a draped off-the-shoulder black nylon dress by Calvin Klein) and she used Instagram to create a buzz around her range. 
The shoppable runway 
The way people can purchase fashion has changed too, Burberry and Ralph Lauren were the first to make their collections available immediately, dismissing the usual practice of making fans wait for around four months until new styles appeared in the shops. 
They were followed by Tommy Hilfiger's 'See Now, Buy Now' collaboration with social media influencer Gigi Hadid and retailer H&M. This was such a massive hit earlier this year that the designer had no hesitation about bringing the idea to September's London Fashion Week. 
This new relationship between the industry and its customers, plus the ability to shop on demand, means fashion brands are being urged to invest more of their marketing spend in social channels to drive sales and conversations. 
The shoppable runway appeals because it appeases impatience among many consumers who are eager to get their hands on the latest clothing. 
Today's consumer is used to ordering a taxi in minutes, getting food delivered to their home within the hour and receiving Amazon orders the next day. They do not want to wait weeks or months to buy the clothes they have seen via social media and are keen to wear. If brands ignore this demand for instant sales, they risk becoming tired. 
We should expect to see technology drive further advancements in the way that fashion brand interact with their consumers. 
Fashion Weeks are no longer just trade shows and how these events are run and perceived has been fundamentally changed by social channels which are bringing an intimacy and affinity that today's modern consumer expects of all their brands. With consumers now expecting access to products almost immediately, designers need to ensure that they can quickly make their products available to take advantage of this 'see-now, buy-now' behaviour. 
Meanwhile, digital technology, and more specifically social channels are enabling brands to communicate with their audience on an intimate level, and consumers are now beginning to expect this personal interaction. In addition, this type of relationship with a brand compliments the existing relationship a consumer has with celebrities and influencers. 
If brands don't begin to adopt these behaviours then they may risk losing competitive advantage. The first luxury brand to consistently give its customers what they want, when they want it, straight from the catwalk, will rule.