Fashion designers must know how to sketch the latest design on a pad of paper but they also need to know about leading edge technology too.

I recently browsed the course program of the University of the Arts of London Saint Martin’s College and I was surprised to see the number of courses that started with the words 3D and Digital (e.g., Digital Fashion, Digital Print, 3D Fashion Design, etc.). It may be a generation gap (I wasn’t born with Internet now you know ) or it may not. Christopher Bailey (who’s older than me!) may not have studied at St Martins, nor is he part of the Internet generation, but certainly his embrace of the web has largely contributed to the success of Burberry in the past few years.

As luxury brands look at new ways to gain new markets, they look into reaching broader audiences. Expanding geographically in the BRIC countries is one very lucrative way but brands also need to expand across the different layers of the population in their own traditional markets. The web is just the right tool in helping in the democratization of the €500 handbag!

Some would argue that the very principle of luxury is that it cannot be accessible by all and that explains why some brands have been so slow – reluctant? – on the uptake of technology. Today’s emerging ready-to-wear brands need to embrace technology, new media, as well as social media to get minimum grounding in the industry and to even start thinking of their future. They need to fully understand the new social interactions and need not be afraid of experimenting with new go-to-market experiences. Shutting the door to new technology can often result in shutting the door to their brand.

C.N.

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