With London Fashion Week drawing to a close for 2012, the fashion industries’ focus is intertwining clothing design with technology innovation.
When people think of IT jobs in the UK, big names like Cisco, Oracle and Apple may be the companies they first consider. However, technology is not a standalone sector. Innovations in IT filter into every part of life and as a result, there is a broad spectrum of businesses to work in if your interests lie in IT.
A few years ago, people may never have considered ordering clothes that they had not seen with their own eyes and physically tried on. In 2012, online purchasing is the preferred method for hundreds of thousands of clothes shopping enthusiasts. Over Christmas 2011, US online shopping increased by 15% compared to a decrease of 4% in people walking into shops to purchase their goods.
Stores have to compete with their websites to draw customers in with attractive web design and layouts that are easy to negotiate. The priorities change depending on the type of merchant, for example: eBay and Amazon require their look to be simple to use and to convey a multitude of items at once, whereas high end fashion designers require their websites to present their luxury items with a visually impressive feel.
Some designers are still resistant to this new form of customer interface. Prada Chief executive, Patrizio Bertelli, insisted in a Harvard Business Review interview that high-end Prada collections would not be sold online. Bertelli is “concerned about compromising our image by using a channel where secondhand cars and books are sold”.
Other designers strive to set themselves apart. Employees hired for the web design jobs in the fashion industry are becoming more crucial to the success of firms than the retail staff appointed in the shops. However, the fashion world is not leaving technology just for the shoppers at home, utilising the advances to improve the shopping experience for the customers.
In August 2012, Marks and Spencer trialled their first store to include WiFi for customers to review stock and iPads for all staff to be able to place orders as they walk around and talk to customers. Marks and Spencer is reportedly investing £100 million in the new point-of-sale technology, plus an added £150 million on a new platform for its 2014 website.
Burberry has taken technology a step further. The list of areas considered by Burberry is extensive, ultimately changing the shopping experience; bringing its web design to life.
Christopher Bailey, Burberry’s chief creative officer explains the thinking behind the advances; “Most of us are very digital in our daily lives now. Burberry is a young team and this is instinctive to us. To the younger generation who are coming into adulthood now, this is all they know.”
Bailey’s uses new technological advances to promote Burberry in a variety of ways. From using social media to first successfully advertise their perfume to Facebook users via samples in exchange for details; to embedding clothing with microchips read by screens and mirrors to show instant images of the clothes being worn on the catwalk. Then there’s live streaming within the store to show fashion shows, not to mention the installation of iPads in the stores’ childrenswear section, loaded with drawing apps for children to play with.
The IT industry is revolutionising the shopping experience, both online and offline. Employees within IT skills can use their knowledge to advance their careers across all forward-thinking industries, becoming a vital part of the changing business world.
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