Runway versus presentation – Burberry and Pringle

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Throughout last year’s international fashion weeks we have witnessed different brands appropriate contrasting strategies for showing off their new collections. Some going all out with grand runway shows in stunning locations – the front row heavily star studded – others taking a more low-key approach arranging intimate and exclusive salon style presentations. Burberry and Pringle of Scotland, both heritage houses with a strong signature style, have chosen contrasting strategies – what might be then the most lucrative approach for young designers presenting their first collections?

Under the creative direction of Christopher Bailey, Burberry has been transformed – not only their designs – but the label’s visual identity has been brought into the 21st century.  At the forefront of the wave of social media branding across multiple platforms, Burberry were the first to live-stream runway shows and this Spring/Summer season collaborated with Apple shooting the runway video on an IPhone 5 and streaming it to 13 outdoor screens in London, New York and Hong Kong. Integrating pre-order and personalising options into the online streaming of shows, they have also linked runway with retail in a whole new way.

A Burberry show is a happening. An exclusive, luxurious event to be shared and hashtagged – this brand clearly finds it lucrative to put on a real show extravaganza. The pastel-hued and petal-covered English Rose themed collection was one of highlights of S/S 14 London Fashion Week and gathering the fashion glitterati as well as the A-list around the tents in Hyde Park, tweeting, Instagramming and blogging their experiences.

However, a show like this requires a fashion powerhouse budget and in the past years of recession we have seen many brands opting for smaller presentations. This season Pringle chose to offer a salon style presentation instead of their usual runway show. The reasons for this might be diverse, yet the choice seems to suit the Scottish knitwear brand rather well. With their rawer aesthetic, with an emphasis on the clean and slightly androgynous – articulated in its warm relationship with actress Tilda Swinton, there is a sense of luxury in individuality to the brand and a quiet playfulness and an arty approach for the fashion connoisseur that really seems to suit the concept of a more private, salon style presentation.

To some degree this could be perceived as a trip back to the future, referencing the closed-circuit exclusivity of the first fashion shows, and part of a clear trend towards the customised and personal, as well as a fascination for old-world ways, permeating the luxury industry. In the project the women who wore Pringle, one of many collaborative projects, weight is also put on the individual and customization of their signature argyle and twinset.

The factor of social media and online celebrity, or rather the overload thereof, might be one of the reasons we are seeing a diversification of styles of presentation as there is a danger that that all the social media outputs and large-scale events drown each other out.

In a world overflowing with brands’ fashion week updates or the tweets, posts or pins of celebrities, editors, bloggers and buyers attending the fashion events we might be risking that only the loudest outputs will be heard and only the grandest events will get necessary attention and publicity.

One way around this might be a quieter approach, offering more of a sense of exclusivity than that of the full-blown social media circus, especially for smaller brands or designers just starting up. Some discreet and discerning hype might be a better tactic in the long run.

by Elisabeth Krohn

Photographs by Jennifer Roberts

About The Author

Glass Online fashion writer

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