This Season, Cover Your Apps

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"There's an app for that.™” The fashion world, and indeed, the general consuming public, is well familiar with this phrase. The expression has become so ubiquitous that Apple has even successfully registered it for trademark protection. But what is the import for the fashion industry? What does "that" refer to, and what are its legal ramifications? What’s behind the simple swipe of a finger that allows consumers to sit front row at fashion shows around the world?

At the Financo Forum in January 2011, the old guard of department store and merchandizing veterans were replaced by social media experts and technology pioneers. Ben Fischman, CEO of Rue La La, the wildly popular invitation-only flash sale site, warned, “If only now you are starting to think about creating a mobile app, you are incredibly late.”[1] Engaging consumers with the use of apps and other digital media is a powerful strategy for increasing both brand awareness and profits. But it’s not just any old app that will do—consumers are eager for creative new ways to interact with mobile technology and the brands behind it, and as a whole, the fashion industry has been delivering.

The Spring/Summer 2011 Fashion Weeks from New York to London unveiled innovative ways to engage consumers in the runway shows. Gucci, Marc Jacobs, and forty other designers streamed their fashion shows live online, and Alexander Wang projected his on a moving digital billboard in Manhattan. In London, Burberry’s “Retail Theater” took the concept of a trunk show straight to the iPad. The runway show was streamed live to the devices, provided at exclusive in-store viewing parties at 25 flagship locations. Using the provided iPads, customers had the unique opportunity to purchase pieces straight off the runway and receive their orders in just seven weeks. Customers do not walk out with shopping bags, but wait for deliveries instead.

This large scale embracing of the iPad certainly signifies the growing importance of a mobile presence that engages a new client base. Increasingly, technology allows for multichannel campaigns, employing an array of creative means to reach consumers. Technology directly in their hands is still a major force of mobile marketing, with new fashion apps continuously being unveiled.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP | Attorney Advertising

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