Thomas Crampton in August this year summed up the website ,Taobao, as the anglophone’s version of Ebay. Founded in 2003, this company has more than 170 million registered members and represents 80% of China’s domestic e-commerce share. Their recent launch of Taobao Fashion Week has shown an extremely impressive platform for online shopping. They include activities such as consumer-driven runway shows complete with instant delivery (beating Burberry to the punch), digital-scape shopping malls, shopping avatars and quality service. As an international maven, Taobao fashion week is not only going to revolutionize the digital shopping experience, but so too the way businesses have to evolve to stay on top of their game.

The convergence of consumers and businesses has expectedly blurred the realms of what industry professionals and eager fashionistas should see. Although most businesses can agree in some form of another that open media is good for brand awareness, there is little that addresses the different needs of fashion editors from customers. The digital pioneer Burberry is a prime example when this year September Cathy Horyn remarked that its fashion show “lacked feeling” and seemed to revolve around “crass E-commerce”. What Taobao has done is tailored the runway show specifically for consumer demand.


Image Caption: A runway screenshot from fashion company Lear Kelly. (1) To the bottom, you will see buttons that say “Show 1”, “Show 2” etc. If a consumer may not be a fan of one look, he/she can switch to the other. (2) To the right you will see black rectangles with Chinese text. For those that cannot read, those are the descriptions of the look that is being showed and the price. When each new look is shown, these black rectangles change with them.

Conventionally speaking, consumers used to have to wait months for clothes to arrive into stores after first seeing them. Burberry bested this by allowing pre-order purchases to be made to be delivered in a few short months. But with Taobao now consumers can now click on any look they like and order it straight away. Respective prices, and descriptions can also found as looks are sent through the runway. A simple click on the garment will bring you to a new window, where you can find further information such as sizes, alternate colors, user reviews, user-generated ratings on the seller, editorial photoshoots of the garment and credentials of the e-tailer. Looks are also styled to be worn on the street emphasizing wearability, rather than entertainment. The background of the runway show can also be customized through graphic design, igniting the vast potential for Digitecture (Digital Architecture) without the huge expense of creating real-life stage sets.


Image Caption: The above picture shows the possibilities of creating a surreal background at the whim of graphic design and special effects. This background reflects the colourful palette of this collection. But one could also create holiday places such as a beach to convey the idea of resort wear, or augment representational historical buildings such as Chanel’s flagship store. The possibilities are endless. 

To Be Continued… On our next post we will look further into the browsing capabilities of Taobao and how this may lead to the birth of retail competition for digital-location.

image source: style.com, taobao.com