Poppy Dinsey, fashion blogger and owner of the social network WIWT, spills the beans on what's really the biggest trend at London Fashion Week: your phone.
Poppy Dinsey, fashion blogger and founder of clothing social network What I Wore Today (WIWT), is our inside woman on all things London Fashion Week (LFW). As the biannual apparel event pulls into the nation’s capital yet again, we’ve caught up with her to see what’s new on the ever-blurring line between fashion and technology. And how the phones in our pockets are now almost as important as the clothes on our backs…
March of the mobiles
“The power of social media within the LFW shows is huge now,” she says, discussing the frantic lineup of up to eight shows per day. “I see everyone from editors to buyers, and the whole room is always full of people taking photos on their phones, Instagramming and Tweeting.”
As it turns out, social networking and mobile phones have had a big impact on how events like LFW run. Poppy explains: “Vodafone’s put multi-phone chargers under every single seat in the front row now. People want to be first to Tweet a picture – then those get re-tweeted a lot.”
And it’s a phone-intensive working day. “People run down their phone battery three, four times a day during Fashion Week. You’re just furiously Tweeting and on e-mail and having to file copy and share photos.”
“It’s an ‘instant’ kind of thing,” Poppy says, breaking down the ethos of the modern fashion press. “People want to be able to Tweet their own pictures – everyone wants to look like they’ve done something themselves rather than use the one official photo that might come out for every look. They want to get their own shots. The power of social media within the shows as they are happening live is huge now.”
Ok, so that’s one side of the coin, but how about the fashion designers themselves? Are they as heavily into the mobile mindset as journalists like Poppy? “Definitely! Burberry were the first people on this,” she says.
“They were ground-breaking in that they took a picture and Tweeted a picture of each model just before she walked on the catwalk. They actually globally broke the news before it was on the catwalk, which has never been done before. And the designers themselves are tweeting, too; you see designers tweeting clues, or they might get a shot of a fabric or a color or a mood board, etc.”
“Reports come out after each Fashion Week that say which designers were the most talked about – which collections got the most Tweets and hashtags – and people really use that to analyse reactions. You can gauge by a reaction on Twitter that one dress in a collection is the one hit dress, and that’s going to be what people buy.”
The Phone is the fashion
But, crucially, it’s not just dresses that are taking the catwalk by storm. Poppy says that phones and tablets are weaving their way more and more into the frame themselves…
“I did a magazine photo shoot today and the three bags I used were all tablet cases. I’ve started to notice more and more really nice tablet cases,” says Poppy, “and girls are using them as clutch bags. People even match their cases to their outfits now. I think just a lot of brands are realising it is worth making accessory lines just for tablets and phones.
“The Richard Nicholl collaboration with Vodafone from a few seasons ago was the world’s first ever handbag that recharged a mobile phone. We’ll be seeing more of that as the tech progresses,” Poppy insists.
“A phone can’t be fashion over function when it’s something that’s so important to people.”
And then there’s the phones themselves; while Poppy tells us she misses the days where self-expression came via swappable plastic cases for the handsets of the late 90s, she claims that phone manufacturers are now making phones that can hold their own on even the most daring of catwalks.
In a very real way, she says that our phones are as much a fashion item as our clothes…
“The Nokia Lumia phones are a great example of that. Being able to customize your phone in terms of what you want it to do, as well as being really colorful, is amazing. You can kind of design it yourself with the Windows Phone 8 home screen.
“Now you have manufacturers making really beautiful, beautiful phones that you can make even more so with designer cases.”
Striking a balance
But all that comes to nothing if the phone doesn’t work as it should. Poppy mentions the fashion phones of yore, with brands like Gucci and Prada trying to merge their names with the phone tech of the time. Thing was, none of those handsets really set the world alight. The problem? Form over function:
“A hand bag only has to do one thing, which is not break and carry enough stuff. Whereas people feel a phone is an extension of themselves,” Poppy explains. “People are never without their phone, and it needs to do absolutely everything that you want it to do. It can’t be fashion over function when it’s something that’s that important to people. You only have one of them and it’s with you all of the time.”
“But, that said,” she concludes, “a lot of the tech companies now create phones so stylishly that it bridges that gap. Phones that genuinely do everything that people would want them to do, and that are beautifully designed; those are the real winners.”