Spotlight shines on London for fashion talent, digital outreach

LONDON - London Fashion Week will showcase the British capital's reputation for creativity and digital innovation when it opens on Friday, amid signs the global luxury market is strengthening.

Fashion favorites such as Burberry, Paul Smith and Tom Ford will vie with edgy youth labels Christopher Kane, Peter Pilotto and Simone Rocha in catwalk shows and presentations.

"London is the most creative and experimental of cities. It is all about emerging talent and new ideas," said Helen David, fashion director at luxury department store Harrods.

The number of luxury goods consumers is set to rise to 440 million in 2020 from 380 million now, according to a study by luxury goods association Altagamma and consultancy Boston Consulting Group. Two-thirds of growth in the luxury market over the next decade will be organic, as sales volumes generated in the same stores rise year-on-year, the study found.

More than 5,000 buyers and journalists from around the world are expected to attend the five-day London event, which brings in an estimated 100 million pounds ($164.84 million) of orders each season, two thirds of which are from international buyers.

"We're seeing a lot of spend coming from international tourists, so lots of Chinese, Russian, Middle Easterners come to London, particularly to shop for luxury," said Fflur Roberts, Head of Global Luxury Goods at research firm Euromonitor International.

More than 80 designers are expected to show collections featuring bold punchy colors for autumn/winter 2014, as well as monochrome patterns already in vogue, industry experts say.

"Last season's pastels will be replaced with bright colors and shades of purple and magenta will be key," said David.

"We have also seen a variety of jewel shades, and monochrome looks set to stay a key focus for everything from daywear through to gowns for the new season."

Forty of the shows will be live-streamed, while Topshop will host the first live 3D installation, enabling global viewers to see the catwalk show from all angles in virtual reality.

Topshop's show will also be open to the public, instead of just the fashion press and buyers.

"The philosophy of Topshop has always been to democratize fashion," Sheena Sauvaire, the company's Global Director of Marketing & Communications, told Reuters.

"Not only is it brands like us that are opening up the fashion world but technology is giving access to everyone. We're allowing everyone to get involved and have some fun," she said.

The British Fashion Council will mark the start of London Fashion Week on Valentine's Day with a social media campaign called #LoveLFW. Fans will be encouraged to share their favourite images, runway look or campaign, which will be featured on a Pinterest board and shared on Twitter.

Twitter followers will also be able to join Q&A sessions with guest Tweeters, who will respond via six-second video clip on social platform Vine.