The Fundamentals of Digital Fashion Marketing Cover Image

The Fundamentals of Digital Fashion Marketing


Clare Harris

Fairchild Books Library

Table of contents

Digital spaces and innovations

Book chapter

DOI: 10.5040/
Pages: 170–204

This chapter introduces:

  • The growing range of emerging digital spaces and innovations.

  • The development of bricks and mortar stores as connected spaces using beacons, shoppable screens, magic mirrors, and virtual fitting rooms.

  • A case study of the interactive retail space, the Denim Studio at Selfridges.

  • The rise of wearable technologies, smart fabrics, utility jewelry, and 3D printing.

  • New forms of immersive retail, virtual shopping, and 3D online shopping tours.

  • An interview with Nicolas Rossi, the CEO and founder of Avenue Imperial, an interactive shopping space.

  • An exercise that will show you how to experiment with augmented reality by using a content layering app.

The connected store

Changes in digital technologies, increased online connectivity, and new shopping habits have all played a role in the shift towards an omni-channel shopping experience. The choice and personalization of services that consumers now experience online also needs to translate across to physical stores.

Physical spaces

Physical retail spaces are evolving into ‘connected’ stores where technology links consumers, devices, and data, and bridges the divide between bricks and mortar and online shopping. Ubiquitous computing and the Internet of things means that it is possible for fashion businesses to transform their physical spaces, improve efficiency, reduce costs, and improve performance.

Increasingly retailers are experiencing the need to focus on creating retail experiences in which stores become meeting spaces, are used to foster a sense of community, or to provide ‘store theatre’. This can include the use of in-store technologies, more opportunities to access customized products, and stores with a wide range of services such as cafes, galleries, and salons. Retailers can benefit from greater stock visibility and use real-time analytics to monitor sales, allowing them to quickly respond to changing market conditions, competition, and customer demands. Information gathered about customers can also be used to build a detailed customer profile in order to provide tailored services or promotions.


‘The next five years will bring more change to retail than the last 100 years.’

 Cyriac Roeding, CEO of Shopkick (2012)

Figure 6.01

Westfield shopping mall, 2014

Europe’s largest urban shopping center hosts a 24-hour fashion ‘Hackathon’. Participants worked through the night, mentored by leading fashion creatives, to create new ways of enhancing the consumer experience using digital technologies.


Using a Bluetooth signal allows retailers to take advantage of location targeting. Beacons can be located anywhere in a physical store to send individualized messages to a shopper’s mobile device. They can also be used for in-store traffic measurement or to turn a customer’s phone into a point of sale checkout via PayPal.

Figure 6.02

Laura Jackson

Laura Jackson at the launch of Future Fashion in 2015, a pop-up experience showcasing trends in digital technology.

Figure 6.03

Figure 6.04

and 6.04 Beacon technology

Beacons broadcast radio signals that can be picked up by a customer’s smartphone to trigger different actions such as welcoming customers to the store, displaying coupons, and helping customers to navigate the store space.

Shoppable screens

Tablets are becoming a popular tool in-store. As devices become more affordable they will become a common in-store feature across all fashion markets.

Sales staff are using tablets in a number of ways. They can access a customer’s purchase history, allowing them to suggest suitable items for customers, as well as being able to pull together whole looks from collections, thereby offering a more personalized shopping experience tailored to the customer’s needs. Tablets can also be used to instantly check on sizes and color, to find out how many items are available or when they will become available, and how soon they can be delivered to the customer.


‘Through Twitter’s listening power, we can allow our global consumer to shop the trends as and when they happen, and give them insight and access into runway shows. The idea of live advertising is just beginning, and thanks to the Ocean Outdoor sites, this will be a first example of real-time shoppable billboards.’

 Sheena Sauvaire, Global Marketing and Communications Director at Topshop (2015)

Figure 6.05

Karl Lagerfeld in-store iPads

Karl Lagerfeld uses in-store iPads to show collections and check the availability of items.

Figure 6.06

Karl Lagerfeld fitting room

Customers are invited to use a ‘photo booth’ to take photos and share on social networks.

Figure 6.07

Topshop’s LFW15 digital outdoor screens

Topshop has a history of making London Fashion Week more accessible for its fans. For LFW15 it used digital outdoor screens in six UK cities to stream its show to fans. It teamed up with Twitter to analyze real-time data to identify trends as they emerged, displaying these in the Topshop trend cloud as hashtags such as #utility, #colourblocking, and #pleats. Items corresponding to these trends were featured on a giant shoppable billboard screen as each hashtag trended.

Virtual fitting rooms

Retailers looking for ways of connecting with customers in-store are using Kinect, a motion-sensing device used in gaming technologies to enhance fitting room experiences.

Virtual dressing rooms have been tested in some physical stores. Kinect sensors are used to scan the customer and project their image onto a flat screen monitor. The customer can then select from a menu of on-screen items such as clothing and accessories. The chosen items are overlaid onto their on-screen figure. This allows customers to ‘virtually’ try on multiple items at once.

The system is also connected to the retailer’s inventory databases, which can recommend additional products based on the customer’s preferences and actions, such as how many times they have tried an item on and whether they have shared a screen grab of that item on social networks.

Magic mirrors

In 2014 Rebecca Minkoff collaborated with eBay to improve the shopping experience in her New York store. Customers were able to choose garments using a large touch screen display and were notified by SMS when they were ready to try on. Fitting rooms used sensors to read the RFID tags on garments, providing the customer with information on additional sizes, styles, and colors. Touch screen mirrors allowed customers to place products in an online cart to purchase or to ask store associates to bring additional items to try on.


‘I wanted the experience to be easy … like being able to ask an associate for another size by simply touching the screen on our dressing room’s “magic mirror”.’

 Rebecca Minkoff (2014)

Figure 6.08

A virtual fitting room

Using sensors to scan the customer.


Recent advances in production techniques and data gathering have enabled marketers to make products and services more personalized.

Made to measure luxury leather shoe makers, The Left Shoe Company, began using 3D technology in the early 2000s to measure and digitally scan the feet of customers to ensure a perfect fit.

Since the late 1990s NIKE has been developing customization services for consumers. For example, they have made it possible for customers to design their own personalized shoes, trainers, and bags, using NIKEiD, available online and in-store.

YR stores and pop-ups provide customized T-shirt design with an in-store printing time of around ten minutes. They have also produced a customization app #liveinprint, which can be used to design unique customized T-shirts, crop tops, and accessories. Customers receive the bespoke garment within 24 hours.

Figure 6.09

Figure 6.10

NIKEiD at Regent Street, London


‘During the past 100 years the apparel and footwear industries have almost traveled full circle from traditional bespoke clothing, through mass production to mass customization.’

 Jennifer Bougourd and Philip Delamore (2007)

‘It’s a really exciting way forward for design, because it means that people can produce things that they really want.’

 Susan Postlethwaite (2013)

Figure 6.11

The Left Shoe Company website

Figure 6.12

YR app #liveinprint

Figure 6.13

Figure 6.14

YR store

Pop-up shops

Pop-up shops are temporary retail spaces that ‘pop up’ and then disappear. The limited time of opening helps engage customers quickly and creates a sense of an event that is exciting and exclusive.

Pop-up shops have become a popular way of building consumer interest, experimenting with ways of creating innovative brand experiences, often in unconventional spaces, and testing out products, locations, and markets. They make it possible for retailers to link online and offline spaces in different ways; for example, online-only retailers can try out bricks and mortar retailing, while the pop-up experience can work to drive business online.

Figure 6.15

Très Bien virtual pop-up shop

Swedish brand Très Bien created a number of virtual pop-up stores in New York, Tokyo, London, Paris, and Stockholm in 2013. An iPhone World Tour app was used to reveal the date and time of the pop-up events.

Figure 6.16

Kenzo’s ‘No Fish No Nothing’ pop-up shop

A new ‘fish’ was added to the giant digital aquarium in the shop window each time a purchase was made or an image of the shop was added to Instagram at #NoFishNoNothing.

Figure 6.17

Kate Spade pop-up shop

Kate Spade collaborated with eBay to create a 24-hour shop front with giant touch screen that allowed users to browse products and purchase items which could be delivered within an hour.

Concept stores and retail experiences

Concept stores gather together carefully selected merchandise and often include eating areas and performance or gallery spaces. The focus is on individual curation and in creating a careful mix of brands that makes the store unique. Colette in Paris, for example, showcases fashion, beauty products, books, music, and design and exhibits photography, painting, and sculpture.

Founded by Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, Dover Street Market retail experience in Haymarket, London has been described as an ‘art gallery of fashion’.

The space has themed floors and biannual ‘tachiagari’ (or ‘beginnings’) when the store closes down and reopens a few days later with new collections, spaces, curated shops, installations, and pop-ups.

Dover Street Market also incorporates a bakery and describes itself as a ‘store’, a ‘market’, a ‘retail experience’, and a ‘one of a kind place’.


‘I want to create a kind of market where various creators from various fields gather together and encounter each other in an ongoing atmosphere of beautiful chaos: the mixing up and coming together of different kindred souls who all share a strong personal vision.’

 Rei Kawakubo, founder of Comme des Garçons and Dover Street Market (2015)

Figure 6.18

Colette concept store in Paris

When the Apple Watch first launched globally, it was sold from a handful of upscale boutiques such as Colette.

Case study: The Denim Studio

‘Find the perfect fit’ at UK department store, Selfridges

With the global market for jeans estimated to reach $56bn (£36bn) by 2018, the Denim Studio aims to offer the widest possible range of denim to a broader market.

The Denim Studio was the first of its kind, combining new technologies with traditional skills by offering an interactive Jeanius Bar and the services of expert denim tailors to create a personalized fit. Their philosophy is to be ‘fashion democratic’, attracting customers of all demographics.

The Denim Studio is the world’s largest retail department dedicated to denim. It stocks over 11,000 pairs of jeans ranging from £11 to £11,000 and sells on average over 3,000 pairs a week.

The Jeanius Bar has four main interactive elements:

  • Images and videos can be rotated, dragged, dropped, scaled, or played on the display screen.

  • An interactive ‘size guide’ can be used to find size conversions for each brand.

  • A ‘style search’ allows customers to search, browse, and save their favorite denim items.

  • A ‘fit finder’ helps customers find the perfect fit.

Selfridges has differentiated itself from its competitors with a personal shopping concept called the ‘Fit Studio’, staffed by a team of denim experts. It has a hands-on pop-up space dedicated to ‘Denim by the Kilo’ and selling reworked vintage denim.

The studio also has a lounge area where shoppers are encouraged to relax, interact, and share their shopping experiences.


‘We want it to be a place where every woman can buy something, no matter what her age, budget, shape or style.’

 Judd Crane, Selfridges Director of Womenswear (2013)

Figure 6.19

Figure 6.20

and 6.20 Jeanius Bar

The interactive Jeanius Bar in the Denim Studio at Selfridges store in London.

Wearable technologies and fashion

Over the years, the new importance of connectivity through technology has led to a displacement of consumer spending away from fashion to smartphones. According to the research company Euromonitor, the UK spent £4.5bn on smartphones in 2014 compared with £4.3bn on designer labels.

New opportunities

As manufacturing and development costs come down, battery life increases and technological components become smaller, smart fabrics and wearable technologies can now be integrated into garments and accessories.

One of the new challenges for the fashion industry is to provide wearable technologies. The launch of the Apple Watch has been an important moment in the shift to everyday wearable technologies that will come to be seen as essential. The use of sensor technologies in accessories and fabric provides new opportunities to create stylish wearables that are useful and meaningful for the consumer.


‘A few years from now, you’ll go to the store and buy a shirt or an undergarment and you’ll just expect it to be a connected object.’

 Stéphane Marceau, co-founder of OMsignal (2015)

Figure 6.21

Solar-powered jacket

Tommy Hilfiger partnered with solar tech company Pvilion to produce a solar-powered jacket in 2014. The solar panels could be removed to charge a phone.


‘In five to ten years, all the little gadgets we have to carry around—like mobile phones, cameras or bracelets—will disappear and everything will be integrated into a garment.’

 Francesca Rosella, Creative Director at CuteCircuit (2015)

Smart fabrics and wearable technologies are growing in popularity. Some fashion brands are building on their reputation as pioneers in wearable fashion technology and using this as a marketing tool.

Wearable technologies in sports and casual clothing are particularly useful for monitoring health and well-being. For example, there are garments that change color in response to sound, wind, and heat, outfits that can tell whether the wearer is getting enough exercise or if their blood pressure is too high, and fabrics with patterns and colors that change depending on how the wearer is feeling. Ralph Lauren has designed a ‘salvo sports’ shirt that monitors heartbeat, respiration, and stress levels.

Utility jewelry

Fashion brands are developing utility jewelry that bridges the gap between technology and style. These are decorative accessories with additional functions such as bangles that are phone chargers, brooches that are GPS trackers, and rings that connect to your smartphone.

They can also function as technology filters, providing a ‘digital detox’ by screening the information received by smartphones and only notifying their owners about texts, emails, calls, and notifications from particular people, with specific keywords, or at specific times.

Figure 6.22

The ‘Twitter Dress’

Nicole Scherzinger wearing CuteCircuit’s ‘Twitter Dress’. The dress was able to receive tweets, turning Scherzinger into a real-life message board.

Google Glass

A range of devices, including Google Glass, Sony’s SmartEyeglass, and Toshiba Glass have been designed to project digital information into a wearable lens.

DVF was one of the first fashion brands to use Google Glass both on the catwalk and backstage. Visuals captured by Google Glass from the spring 2013 show were featured on DVF’s Google+ and promoted on social networks at #DVFthroughGlass. Diane Von Furstenberg said she was ‘excited to introduce Glass to the fashion world and use this revolutionary technology to give everyone a unique perspective into fashion’.

Subsequently Google suspended sales of Google Glass, but its technology has played an important role in the development of fashion wearables.


‘We strive to make technology less obtrusive and more invisible, challenging you to reset the balance between digital and physical and remember how to live in the moment.’

 Kate Unsworth, founder and CEO at Kovert Designs (2014)

Figure 6.23

Kovert Designs

Jewelry containing hidden embedded electronics that wirelessly link to smartphones and is controlled via an app.

Figure 6.24

Wearing Google Glass

Sergey Brin (left), co-founder of Google, with designers Diane Von Furstenberg (center) and Yvan Mispelaere (right) at the DVF spring 2013 show in New York.

3D printing and fashion

3D printing was invented in the 1980s but it is only recently that 3D printers have become widely available. 3D printing is one of a number of additive manufacturing processes used to make a three-dimensional object.

In fashion, 3D printing is playing an important role for haute couture designers whose work is experimental, intricate, complex, and detailed. Iris van Herpen is well known for her use of digital technologies and works with the additive manufacturing company Materialise to produce her boundary-pushing collections which are favored by performers such as Bjork. Her black lacy dress—claimed to be the first flexible, wearable, and washable 3D garment and shown during Paris Fashion Week in 2011—was named one of the best inventions of the year by Time magazine.

Mass customization

3D fashion designer, Melinda Looi, claimed in 2015 that ‘3D printing will change the world … Maybe not now, but in times to come 3D printing will usher in a new era by enabling machines to produce objects of any shape, on the spot, and as needed’. Potentially cheaper and more efficient than other forms of manufacture, 3D could revolutionize the way that clothes are made. The implications for ready-to-wear are particularly interesting because of the possibilities 3D printing offers for mass customization. Using body scanning and 3D modelling techniques would allow for the printing of clothes which would fit perfectly and which could be adapted to match customers’ preferences for color and fabric.


‘People have been wearing the wrong sizes of clothes for far too long. Everybody could have their own body scanned and just order clothes that fit perfectly.’

 Iris van Herpen (2013)

Figure 6.25

Iris van Herpen 3D top

At Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin, spring/ summer 2012.

Emerging digital spaces

Immersive retail

An immersive experience is one set in an artificial environment but which simulates being physically present, usually by recreating a range of sensory experiences such as sight, sound, and touch. UK fashion retailer Topshop created this kind of experience to open their 2014 London Fashion Week show, held at the Tate Modern gallery and working with a production company, Inition. The award-winning experience was made possible with the use of the reality headset, the Oculus Rift. The show was transmitted live to Topshop’s London flagship store where five competition winners watched it through the Oculus Rift.

3D sound was also used, while live tweets were presented as though written on leaves and dropped by flying crows. Time-lapse footage offered a view of the set being built. Hundreds of fashion fans visited the store and were also able to experience the show on demand in the days following the event.


‘Our main ambition was to create a memorable, immersive experience, so we were pleased to see the theme of the overwhelming volume of press coverage and individual feedback was all about how amazing it was to be able to step inside this coveted show.’

 Andy Millns, Creative Director at Inition, 2014

Figure 6.26

Figure 6.27

Topshop Oculus Rift show, 2014

Figure 6.28

Figure 6.29

Festival of Imagination

Selfridges used an installation integrating the work of fashion designer Gareth Pugh with a virtual reality display providing a 360-degree stereoscopic environment for their ‘Festival of Imagination’ in 2014.

Virtual shopping in physical stores

Fashion retailers are increasingly experimenting with closing the gap between customers’ experiences of bricks and mortar and online shopping. Brands such as Jimmy Choo and Karen Millen have replicated their physical stores online, with the use of virtual shopping tours and complete 360° scenes. These brands use an online space, Avenue Imperial, to provide an interactive virtual shopping experience, which can be used on desktop and mobile devices. Shoppers can interact in real time with shop assistants and access the stores. They also have the option to access additional information and pricing at product hotspots.


‘A virtual showroom is the perfect way to give people an interactive preview and the opportunity to pre-order their favourites to avoid disappointments. The virtual showroom will enhance our multi-channel offering by allowing customers all over the world to get the magic of the Jimmy Choo experience online.’

 Pierre Denis, CEO Jimmy Choo (2014)

Figure 6.30

Karen Millen

360° scenes of online space via avenueimperial. com


Gamification uses game design in non-game contexts such as retail where, at the simplest level, it takes the form of loyalty schemes and activities that gain participants ‘rewards’.

The Jimmy Choo Trainer Hunt, which challenged players to ‘check in’ a pair of trainers at fashionable spaces around London to win new trainers, created a media buzz and increased trainer sales.

Harrods’ ‘super-addictive new game for shoeaholics’, Stiletto Wars, was designed to showcase the diversity of brands in its ‘Shoe Heaven’. Players were challenged to match at least three of the same shoe either vertically or horizontally for points to win gift cards, beauty treatments, and personal shopping appointments.


‘Gaming is such an intrinsic part of our culture—it is the number one activity on mobiles in terms of time spent, dwarfing even Facebook.’

 Deborah Bee, Director of Creative Marketing at Harrods (2014)

Interview: Nicolas Rossi, CEO and founder of Avenue Imperial

Nicolas Rossi is the CEO and founder of Avenue Imperial, an online space that provides a 360° interactive virtual shopping experience on desktop and mobile devices.


How did the idea for Avenue Imperial first come about?

I wanted to buy a present for someone in Ralph Lauren on Bond Street, so I went on Google Street View and was surprised to find that it stopped you at the shop front. I thought to myself ‘why not use virtual reality technology to recreate real stores and allow users from all around the world to browse and shop from them over the Internet?’


Are fashion brands and retailers quick to see new opportunities in connecting offline with online channels?

The first response we get is almost unanimously positive. As you know, one can’t really lump fashion brands into one basket when it comes to their approach to online. You have luxury brands that have embraced ‘digital’ and then those who have shied away from it. History almost always favors those who innovate over those who don’t and, with the exception of the handful of ultra-luxury brands who can afford to not make a big push online, I think that is also proving to be true for fashion and technology.

Figure 6.31

Jimmy Choo

360° scenes of the Jimmy Choo bridal wear space via avenueimperial. com


How does Avenue Imperial provide additional value to the retail experience?

We offer the most immersive and real life-like shopping experience online. We think people will look back at the detached, two-dimensional, catalogue-type e-commerce as being quite antiquated. Real stores add value through product display, product selection, the availability of trained sales associates, and by providing a location and brand-specific overall experience. It is very difficult to translate these factors using a traditional 2D e-commerce product catalogue. This is why there is still so much frustration over the concept of omni-channel, everyone wants to bridge online and offline but that’s not really doable with traditional e-commerce. A virtual solution, as provided by Avenue Imperial, allows any store or brand to take all of the things that make them unique and successful in the real world and bring those things online one for one, true omni-channel!


What is the process from start to finish and how long does it to take to open a store?

We have built unique hardware and software that allows us to create indoor virtual tours with an unrivalled degree of quality, speed, and scalability. For Karen Millen it took five days from project sign-off until the store was live, online, and shoppable. The shoot itself took two hours (for a space of 8,000 square feet) while post-production was done in under 12 hours. It’s an incredibly seamless and easy process to set up a virtual store. Updating the virtual store happens as often as once a month and is even quicker than the initial set-up.


How do you see marketing technologies and fashion working together in the future?

Virtual reality will undoubtedly be one of the biggest themes in tech in the coming five years. Every third article on Tech Crunch or Wired seems to be about VR! As digital moves from something detached and two-dimensional to something that is actually ‘spatial’ and immersive it opens up a world of possibilities for fashion marketing. By putting on the Oculus and viewing one of our virtual tours the user is literally transported into the physical stores and showrooms that the brands have built. Furthermore, our tours can track users’ viewpoints and zoom levels so brands can use our technology to market specific sections and products in a virtual store.


What advice would you give fashion marketing graduates interested in developing a career in emerging digital spaces?

I think work experience and building a network of contacts are the key ingredients to a successful career in any profession. Start early in trying to get internships (even if they are unpaid) and attend industry gatherings and seminars. We all started from scratch so you’ll be surprised how much free help and advice you’re going to get if you truly commit yourself.

I would also advise you to keep up to date with the latest technologies and start-ups by reading technology blogs. Maybe a certain technology wasn’t developed with fashion in mind but if you find a good technology and see how you could apply it to fashion marketing then that’s a great pitch to take to a potential employer to show that you’ve really thought things through and came up with an original idea.


Augment Reality

Connecting offline with online

Augmented reality, combined with printed material, can create a powerful and engaging marketing message. Using the ‘Layar’ app, you can experiment with augmented reality by scanning an image that reveals layers of content including websites, video, and tweets. This is a great way of creating an enhanced interactive experience for the consumer, connecting offline and online worlds.

Figure 6.32

Layar app

Sign up

  • Go to and sign up for an account. In the ‘Layar Creator’ panel you will see an area where you can store your Layar projects or ‘campaigns’.

  • Download the Layar app, which is available for both iOS and Android devices.

Figure 6.33

Label ‘artwork design’


  • Choose an image of the design that you want to use to represent your campaign. This could be an advert, a graphic label, packaging, or even a magazine layout.

  • Make sure whatever you choose is clear and of good quality. Save your images as either JPG, PNG, PDF, or ZIP files.

Figure 6.34

Layar editing panel


  • Click on ‘start editing’. Choose from the four categories of buttons: basic, media, social, and advanced.

  • Drag the buttons over to where you would like them to appear when your image is scanned. Fill in the details needed for each button you use.

Figure 6.35

Testing artwork with Layar app


  • Choose ‘test’ from the menu to see how your campaign works.

  • Download the Layar app to your phone. Scan the page to make sure that all your buttons work. When you are ready, choose ‘publish’.