The new September Issue

By Sophie Bastow-Dormon and Sara Williams

As London Fashion Week fast approaches, the world prepares for a week of glamour, beautiful models, pouting celebrities and magnificent clothing. But big-name fashion designers aren’t the only ones hard at work – the fashion web has been prepping a few new looks of its own.

The past couple of weeks have seen the redesigns of several fashion sites and the announcements of some really exciting digital projects led by luxury brands. Fashion and digital are no longer separate entities. Brands like Burberry and Hermés and publications like Vogue.com and Telegraph Fashion are challenging the boundaries between the two with a series of gorgeous experiments in design and user experience.

September has always been the month for elegant and inspiring designs, but this year those designs are sartorial and digital.

Burberry brings the catwalk to the customer, instantly

After wowing audiences back in February with the 3D catwalk show, Burberry continues to lead the pack by using digital and social media to create heightened, tailored experiences for customers. Burberry kicked things off with Art Of The Trench in 2009 and it’s about to debut something even more exciting: a state-of-the-digital-art Retail Theatre.

Burberry’s digital makeover means guests will be able to experience the London Fashion Week spring/summer 2011 fashion show in real-time, and then place orders online through custom-built Burberry apps on iPads. This means Burberry will showcase its collections globally and instantly, from the catwalk directly to stores, where it will be viewed by brand devotees. This changes the buying experience completely, from a simple transaction to something tailored, branded and personal.

Bringing products to life is what fashion week, and the catwalk in general, is all about. Purchasing the same piece of clothing you’ve just seen float down the catwalk has long been a dream for fashion lovers, but for Burberry fans, it could soon be a reality.

Crowdsourcing scarf styles from around the world

French luxury brand Hermés has just launched J’aime Mon Carre (I Love My Scarf). The website is dedicated to scarves and the people who love them. It crowdsources inspiration on how to wear scarves and showcases this through photos of people wearing their scarves in fabulous, unique ways. In a geo-location twist, content is tagged by capital cities. This gives users an on-the-ground view of the scarf-styling differences between, say, Paris and Rome. The site comes just before the launch of a new line of scarves this month.

First Burberry, then Hermés and it’s not yet mid-September. Will the rest of this month see other luxury brands trying out a few new digital tricks?

Websites are catching up to fashion

The digital versions of two longstanding print publications, both pillars of the fashion world, have also had work done, and to gorgeous results.

Vogue continues to embrace the excitement of the most important fashion month. Timed alongside the publication of its iconic September issue, Vogue.com has experienced a revamp courtesy of Code & Theory. Bloggers from the fashion web and the social web are all a-flutter about the redesign, and we can see why. The refresh has resulted in a better looking, higher-functioning web presence for the high-end publication, which has vowed to feature high profile web coverage of the catwalks and next season’s essential trends. The efficiency of the website makes exploration a breeze, as you can follow the collections soon after they appear. As London Fashion week erupts, Vogue.com intends to capture the styles, drama and glamour with the beauty and efficiency that made its print cousin famous.

The Telegraph fashion channel also had a makeover (full disclosure: Made by Many is behind this refresh). The new Telegraph Fashion is about browsing and buying in a luxurious, magazine-like atmosphere. Visually, it has been transformed from a text-heavy, content focused section of the news site, to a fluid online experience, on par with the rich and vibrant supplement magazine.

This article is a round up of how we have seen the September fashion fever – the month is far from over and there is much more room for further unveilings (watch for them on fashionweek.twitter.com). One thing is for certain: the bar is being pushed higher for the expression and development of fashion through digital and social media.

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