NEW YORK — In what will be a digital first for New York Fashion Week, Ralph Lauren Corp. is partnering with the live-streaming app Periscope to livestream the Ralph Lauren Collection show to the heart of London. Just as models are stepping onto the runway in Manhattan at Skylight Clarkson Sq, thousands of Londoners passing through Piccadilly Circus will simultaneously be able to catch every last spring 2016 look on a nearby screen before the designer takes his final bow. Beyond the editors, celebrities and influencers in New York, and the more unsuspecting U.K. crowd, Ralph Lauren will be tapping into Periscope’s base of more than 10 million users.
This will be the company’s latest in a series of high-tech initiatives that have included a holographic 4-D fashion show on Central Park’s reservoir, interactive shoppable windows, e-commerce and most recently the introduction of the PoloTech smartshirt, which features sensors that read the wearer’s biological and physiological information. In the days leading up to the show, the company plans to tease the event on the sides of the Piccadilly Circus screen with tweets from the Ralph Lauren Outlet account, and a countdown clock of sorts. Should they be motivated to shop, Ralph Lauren’s Bond Street store is about a 10-minute walk from Piccadilly Circus.
With 1.3 million Twitter followers, Ralph Lauren will plug the event beforehand via its Twitter handle, using #RLRunway specifically for Twitter and Periscope, and tweets will also come from @Twitter and @Twitterfashion. As the show plays out on Periscope, viewers can share comments and ask questions. Familiar with Ralph Lauren’s innovative approach to the digital space and its strong presence in London, Twitter executives approached David Lauren, executive vice president of global advertising, marketing and corporate communications, about a potential partnership. “Periscope has more than 10 million users so the potential is tremendous, and they’re a very savvy audience,” he said. “Additionally, there are the [estimated] two million or so people passing through Piccadilly each week, and very few of them probably expected a front row seat to New York Fashion Week.”
Lauren said, “One of the most compelling and engaging elements of social media is the ‘shared experience,’ knowing that someone in Japan is seeing the same thing as someone as London or New York at the same time actually makes the world seem a more intimate place. Fast-paced as fashion is, technology’s evolution is even faster, and to stay ahead of both, Lauren said, “You have to be willing to try new things and take a few risks, and you have to figure out a way to connect both fashion and technology so it makes sense.” He added, “Ralph Lauren UK has always been on the forefront of innovation and redefining the consumer experience. We are actively pursuing different avenues in digital, because now digital touches every point of our lives. We are using technology to make retail shopping a fully interactive experience with the recent launch of our holographic windows on Fifth Avenue.”
After being acquired in March by Twitter for what was said to be a nearly $100 million cash-heavy and stock deal, the live-streaming mobile app Periscope has amassed millions of users. Some tech writers have speculated that its success hinges in part on the celebrity factor. After unveiling her Republican candidacy for president, former Hewlett Packard chief executive officer Carly Fiorina turned to Periscope to answer questions in real time. More recently, a trio of NHL players from the Detroit Red Wings talked training and trades in a Periscope-enabled locker room interview on September 3.
Like its competitor Meerkat, Periscope links to a user’s Twitter account. While Meerkat automatically tweets video links. Periscope users have to choose to share their links. Executives at Twitter declined comment regarding the Ralph Lauren alliance. But fashion has been one of the key industries to use Periscope: Donatella Versace used it to air her Q&A at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London used it to show a tour of the Alexander McQueen exhibition and Burberry used it to transmit what went on during the day of its Los Angeles show this spring as well as its men’s show in London in June. Periscope cofounders Kayvon Beykpour and Joe Bernstein also started Terriblyclever, which was acquired by Blackboard in 2009.