NYFW: 5 charts on how fashion brands stack up in digital and mobile

Spectacle and celebrity have descended yet again on New York City for its biannual weeklong celebration of all things fashion. But for all the hoopla surrounding every shiny new trend, two recent studies suggest fashion brands aren’t exactly keeping up — at least when it comes to mobile commerce.

To be sure, m-commerce is a growing source of revenue in the retail business: According to eMarketer, 19 percent of U.S. retail e-commerce sales in 2014 will come from mobile-device purchases.

But a July study from the IAB, released last week, examined the mobile presences of Women’s Wear Daily’s top 100 fashion brands to see how well they did when it came to smartphones. Not that well, it turns out.

A staggering 17 percent of the WWD’s top brands still have not optimized for mobile, a figure higher than the chicest set of stilettos. “Brands with a direct retail presence have the strongest imperative to offer great mobile experiences,” the IAB said in the study.

Not afraid to name and shame, the IAB specifically pointed out brands American Apparel, DNY, Fruit of the Loop, Reebok, Playtex and Versace as not having mobile-optimized sites. (Though for American Apparel, maybe it’s just a retro thing.)

“We were surprised by how badly fashion brands did in mobile,” Joe Laszlo, senior director at IAB, told Digiday. “I can forgive the big high-fashion guys if they forget about the smaller screens, but even categories that ally themselves with technology aren’t as mobile as we thought.”

A bigger problem was that while the majority do have mobile-optimized sites, very few of the retailers optimized search results for the smaller screens.

Responsive Web design, which changes how a page looks depending on the device or browser you’re using, is under-utilized by fashion companies: Only about a third of the 100 brands have responsive sites. That said, responsive design can be a conundrum for mobile developers. “It’s a potentially cost-effective way to deal with the future, so you’re ready for the proliferation of devices, but there is a fairly heavy upfront investment cost,” said Laszlo.

IPhone is still the belle of the ball when it comes to offering a standalone fashion app, the IAB found.

However, Android apps are only behind by a few percentage points, reflecting, according to the IAB, the growing importance of Android users. Interestingly, iPad apps lag iPhone and Android apps very significantly — despite iPads seeming like a natural canvas for bigger images and clearer graphics.

Three brands — Vera Bradley, Wrangler and Rolex — have iPad apps but no iPhone apps. These were launched for specific campaigns, as opposed to general commerce offering, said Laszlo.

The IAB designed its research with the thinking that the mobile Web, not apps, are the real “front door” for customers. “The website is the must-have part of the mobile strategy,” said Laszlo.

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Social media analytics firm Socialbakers crunched Twitter data for the first three days of NYFW, from Sept. 4 to Sept. 7, and found the top 10 fastest-growing fashion brands by number of followers.

Tommy Hilfiger, despite not being the biggest brand by total number of followers on the list, far and away outstripped the competition, adding 21,527 new followers in three days, thanks to gems like this:


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