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Coach, Simon make bold move for attention with virtual runway creation

Accessories manufacturer Coach is bringing its fashion show to fans who did not get to attend its NYFW runway, available on social media and at Simon Mall locations, with a virtual reality experience it believes is better than the real thing. 

While fashion shows in the past were inaccessible to the public, reserved exclusively for industry insiders, brands are making a bid to bring these events to fans at home. Coach?s VR experience will bring its runway to users, beginning with show prep to the finale, available for viewing on Facebook 360, YouTube, VR platforms and at select Simon Malls. 

"The uniqueness of Coach's approach will be tested as consumers try the experience for the first time," said Gordon Meyer, director of marketing at YouVisit. "What we've seen from our own work with consumer brands is that the experience has to be immersive and interactive.

Coaching consumers
Following Coach?s NYFW show on Feb. 14, the brand will be launching a VR experience of the runway on Feb. 17. The video will depict the show in its entirety, beginning with the load-in and finishing with the end of the runway. 

Winnie Harlow models during Coach NYFW runway finale

VR Headsets will be set up throughout Simon Malls that will allows consumers to watch the show. The experience will also be available to fans at home through VR headsets, Facebook 360 and YouTube. 

The experience features stereoscopic sound and was made in partnership with IMG. Co-president of WME | IMG Mark Shapiro explained in a statement that Coach and IMG wanted to make sure the technology made the VR experience even better than being there. 

Coach will be pairing the VR experience with giveaways at select Simon Malls locations. For those at participating stores on a limited basis will receive a Rexy bag charm with $300 purchase. 

75 Rexy Editor Envelopes will also be given to select customers, which include tickets to an upcoming NYFW show. 

Fashion and mobile
Social media, mobile and digital have become a huge factor for brands during fashion weeks. Technology has been a major driver in stripping these events? exclusivity. 

At September?s London Fashion Week there was be 83 designers and 5,000 guests from 58 countries. Many more watched the runway shows streamed online, devoured Instagram images, followed Instagram and Snapchat stories in real-time, buy runway stuff immediately online and followed the happenings on Twitter.

In 2015, #NYFW was used a whooping 31.6 million times. Last February, there were 113,348 images tagged #LFW on Instagram. In September, Rihanna?s #FentyXPuma hashtag alone enjoyed a 35,000 mentions spike after her runway show.

Snapchat numbers are always hard to come by, but this platform's 10-billion daily video views were impressive enough for Condé Nast and Hearst to launch their dedicated their Snapchat Discover channels (see more). 

U.S. fashion label Michael Kors shared its fall 2017 runway presentation far and wide by live streaming the New York Fashion Week show across a range of social platforms.

For its Feb. 15 runway show held at Spring Studios, Michael Kors will live stream the event on its Web site as well YouTube Live, Facebook Live and Twitter, a first for a fashion brand. In December, Twitter introduced the ability to record live video in an immersive 360-degree format on its streaming application, Periscope (see more).

"What will make this initiative sink or swim will be the level of interaction they can create: Can you move in the space, choose what you see, even buy items while in virtual reality," Mr. Meyer said. "That's the future of VR in retail."