During London Collections: Men in January, Burberry made history by launching their own channel via Apple TV and became the first fashion show to be live-streamed via the app. Burberry are fast becoming one of the most digitally versatile brands in the fashion market and have since announced their plans to sell ‘straight off the runway’ for the first time ever – a model that will start during their September womenswear show at London Fashion Week.

Where once upon a time it was just a static camera placed above the action, brands and fashion fans now require a 360 degree view of events. Behind the scenes and backstage access is a necessity and a powerful tool for connecting with designers and labels in this new digital age. Where there is Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope and all the rest – livestream can often be your one stop destination for watching a fashion show.

Most people don’t have tickets to fashion week and thus live-stream is the way to stay connected and see the looks as they hit the runway, with no delay – instantly – live. Through live-stream there’s no ‘missing out’ and brands are letting you know that you totally ‘can sit with us’ all by the click of a button (and internet connection of course).

Streaming Tank is one of the leading digital production and live streaming companies in fashion, having worked with everyone from Topshop and Rimmel through to Coach and Mulberry – and of course Burberry. Outside of fashion, they have worked on campaigns for some of the biggest events, brands and TV shows, such as Britain’s Got Talent, the NME Awards, ATP Tennis, and countless film premieres for titles including Spectre, Skyfall, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

With so many new developments in the fashion seasons and how we shop, we couldn’t have thought of a better time to catch up with Streaming Tank’s Helen Kavanagh to find out about all things live-stream, and where the relationship between fashion and technology  is headed.   

What is live streaming?

It’s like live TV, but consumed via any internet-connected device – laptop, mobile, tablet, or Smart TV. The ‘Live’ bit is the important part – a user is not consuming on demand content, like on Netflix, but watching an event that is currently happening. It could be a conference, debate, sports event, fashion show, gig… anything! To make it happen you need cameras, sound, and encoding machine, a video platform, and the internet. 

Does the fashion industry have different requirements in streaming to other sectors?   

Streaming Tank’s experience with fashion clients has highlighted the industry’s appetite for technology and innovation. The scope of their live streams are no longer limited to just views of the catwalk. Fashion brands have been marching ahead, offering backstage access, user control of camera shots, streaming into dating apps, rewarded activities and virtual reality experiences. We’ve got two perfect examples this already in 2016:

    1. A multi camera 360 degree live stream for Coach at NYFW 16.
    2. The live stream of J.W.Anderson’s Menswear Show at London Fashion Week: the designer took an innovative approach to hitting a target demographic by streaming only into the gay dating app Grindr, and it proved hugely successful!

What sets Streaming Tank apart from other live streaming companies?

Streaming Tank is not really just a ‘live streaming company’. At some events, we do turn up with cameras, kit and crew and simply get a broadcast live on the web. But more often we will be working with the brand or agency to design the whole viewer experience. This could be a highly secured stream for a corporate announcement, a film premiere streamed live to hundreds of websites, or a virtual reality live stream for a luxury production launch. Typically we work across the creative concept and the content capture itself, as well as delivering the live broadcast and enhancing consumer reach. The team is made up of video directors, digital producers, camera and sound crew, video platform experts and developers, so we are pretty broad!

What developments in streaming do you expect over the coming years?

We are right in the middle of an industry whirlpool at the moment. The first change, which will continue, is simply that more events will be streamed live to the web. More traditional, corporate industries are starting to see the necessity and value of streaming events. And there’s a widespread democratisation of content/events, making ‘expensive’ events (plays, opera) now affordable – a great example being the National Theatre Live events which are streamed into local cinemas. The same goes with previously ‘exclusive’ events – fashion shows being the prime example! You can get a front row seat without being Alexa Chung.

In terms of tech developments, for adventurous brands, 360 and VR is the big thing for 2016. It’s huge across sport, entertainment, music, fashion and gaming. This will continue, and live streams will be increasingly delivered to Google Cardboard apps, Gear VR, Oculus and 360 apps on web and tablets. Outside this, user interaction and reward is always important – video players that allow users to select their view, access special content, or win rewards are also popular. And with fashion, it’s ‘shop the show’ that’s big. As shown by Burberry’s recent announcement that show outfits will be available in store immediately, consumers are no longer interested in waiting. High street brands are already allowing viewers to order what they see immediately, and we expect the higher end brands to follow suit soon. Virtual Reality, 360 streaming and wearable tech are all areas that streaming agencies need to keep an eye on.

A final area to keep an eye on is the continued exploitation / integrations with social media destinations. There’s constant invaluable research and analysis of user behaviour on the web and their engagement with video – as an example (and a plug!), back in 2012 Streaming Tank used Twitter as a stream destination for Blur to perform live and release new tracks, successfully propelling them to the top of the iTunes charts. And, at a different level, the social media companies themselves are going to direct live streaming goes – Facebook and YouTube in particular will shape the industry with the technology they develop and what technology they allow the public (or brands) access to.

With so many luxury brands still anti social media and online platforms, do you find that you’re educating brands on the reach they can have from working with you?

 There’s no simple answer to this. Some yes, some no. Although the ‘high street’ brands such as Topshop were the first to get inventive with streaming, you can see that the bigger luxury brands such as Burberry are also pioneers in the online space. Typically it’s the smaller luxury brands that we are educating – they have the budget and the desire to get out there more, but they are concerned that by just ‘streaming’ they are not positioning the brand correctly to their target audience, especially if that audience is a high end consumer. They might want a more bespoke experience than just clicking on a YouTube link. And this is where Streaming Tank as an agency step in. We work with the brand to identify who the target audience is, what they want them to see, and how they want them to engage with the event – it’s from there we start to plan things like onsite video production and graphics, online web destinations, and the user experience. A luxury brand should demand a bespoke event for their consumer. So we need to provide it.

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Burberry really are surpassing other brands right now. Not only do they create a collection and show of countless looks, layered to perfection, but their livestreams are like a short film, incorporating young and fresh music talent, their very own beauty products, nodding to the front row from time to time, and closing with credits to acknowledge and promote the musicians and artists they support. Furthermore, their line up of models is so diverse – British to the core – that it’s no wonder they are so highly commended in the industry.

Today, if you’re in London, or New York, or anywhere in the world and have access to the internet – there is simply no other way to keep up with Paris Fashion Week than to watch the live-streams. Unfiltered and un-pixelated, they offer direct access to the all the looks we want (and need) to see. And truth be told, if you’re at the shows and not an A-lister, you’re likely to have a few heads, gigantic hats or iPhones obstructing your view anyway…

September will change the way the fashion industry looks at shopping. As online shopping moves in to ‘live-stream’ shopping territory for those willing to buy straight off the catwalk – and we wait with anticipation to see how it all plays out.

Words: Sabina Emrit 

With thanks to James Wilkinson of Streaming Tank.

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Sabina Emrit is an international Fashion Editor and Celebrity Stylist. She has interviewed a host of key names in fashion including Anna Wintour, Alexandra Shulman, Mary Katrantzou, Cara Delevigne, Alexa Chung and Lana Del Rey. As a celebrity stylist and fashion consultant Sabina has worked with talent including Sir Ian McKellen, Andrew Scott, Freddie Flintoff MBE, David Harewood MBE, Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran), Marina and the Diamonds, Flo-Rida, Pixie Lott, Imogen Heap, Rudimental, Bastille, Clean Bandit, Conor Maynard.

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