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Fashioning a market – the impact of London Fashion Week on high street retailers

05 March 2015

London Fashion Week (LFW) has closed its doors once again for another 6 months before fashion's greatest and most celebrated designers return to showcase their S/S16 collection on 18 September 2015.

But should retailers buy into all the hype?

Anyone who was wandering around in London's West End in the last few weeks will no doubt have seen the numerous day events, adverts, evening soirées, celebrity dinners all linked to LFW taking place. The four day showcase is a major cultural obsession which sees London's fashion industry take pride of place on delivering the next season's new trends.

The impact of LFW is huge for UK high street fashion retailers which, through the rise of social media, 'Next Big Trends' articles, and celebrity Twitter and Instagram accounts, must design, source and sell the style critics' 'must have' items in their stores on the high street. These products that are inspired by the luxury bespoke items showcased on the catwalk need to be mass produced and available at an accessible price point for the average consumer.

However, the reality is the UK high street has seen prices squeezed over recent years and fast fashion (disposable, high fashion clothing at low prices) dominate the lower end of the market by such retailers such as Primark, H&M and George at Asda.

To respond with consumers' demand for up to date trends and an ever changing wardrobe, some retailers such as Next have increased their buying cycles, increasing seasonal ranges from two to four.  This allows it to have a stronger platform to take on online competitors such as Asos which has traditionally used catwalk clips or celeb inspired garments to market and promote its products.

However, one retailer appears to be ahead of the pack, Topshop which is in its 23rd season of showing Topshop Unique, at LFW. These garments are created by its in-house design talent and have allowed Topshop to market itself as a fashion leader rather than a fashion follower (unlike its other competitors on the high street). Off the back of this success Topshop has also successfully managed to turn its show at LFW into an advertising campaign for its brand, allowing data obtained by interactive advertising campaigns to drive trends and increase brand awareness.

For more information about the importance of London Fashion Week for retailers click here for Retail's Week's article, and click here for The Drum's article on Topshop's use of advertising.