10 years ago to the week, the international fashion industry was gearing up for another round of catwalk shows in New York, London, Paris and Milan. Pencils would have been sharpened as editors took out their sketchbooks during presentations to draw and write about fashions that would hit stores in six months time.
After Fashion Week, journalists would have then discussed forthcoming trends as the future of fashion was decided in board rooms, to only be unleashed on the public later in the year, on the carefully compiled pages of glossy magazines.
Fast forward a decade, and the latest technology means that Joe Public can not only watch and read about a catwalk show as it happens, but in some cases they can buy the clothes as they come down the runway. Via online shopping, using Paypal, naturally.
So how did technology turn Fashion Week on its head? Here are the five key changes that flip-reversed the industry, for good:
1. Wi-fi revolutionised the communication of fashion; bloggers and journalists alike can watch a show while now simultaneously reporting on it from their laptops and smartphones. Fashion fans and retailers now see key looks at the same time as editors, which has sped up the 'trickle down' effect (big companies can get copies of designer pieces in store faster than the actual fashion house, leading to some designers like Tom Ford placing an embargo on all coverage of their shows)
2. Similarly, social media - in particular Twitter - provides an instantaneous platform for reactions, reviews, and images from the catwalk shows to be sent around the world. Runway presentations now resemble pop concerts, as everyone watches the models through their smartphones. Social media makes fashion far more democratic - anyone from a 14 year old school girl to the editor of Vogue can contribute their opinion of a show via Twitter.
3. While some designers are averse to the effect digital media has on the industry, others are embracing it. Burberry have appointed themselves pioneers of fashion's digital age, effectively opening their doors for the world to see. Designer Christopher Bailey is known to personally tweet show preparations right up to when the first model steps out, they live stream the catwalk on the Internet and on huge screens in the centre of London's Trafalgar Square, and last season enabled buyers to make their selections in live time as the show happened. Burberry's commitment to making the most of technological advances has helped to re-define their brand.
4. The rise of the iPad and other tablet devices is proving to be crucial to the future of the fashion industry. Not only is this technology invaluable for editors reporting and recording information at Fashion Week, the tablet has also given a huge boost to the ailing fashion media industry. Publishing houses see digital versions of printed fashion magazines as the future, and so far they are popular with iPad users - in particular for the increased level of interactive content (instead of just reading a show report in a mag, why not click to see catwalk and backstage videos or maybe a photo slideshow?) These devices could well instigate an entirely new style of fashion reportage. Perhaps even Grace Coddington, the legendary fashion editor of US Vogue, will part with her faithful sketchbook and use an illustration app on an iPad at New York Fashion Week this Friday. They do say anything's possible...
5. Back at base level, the creative teams behind fashion brands are constantly seeking to use the latest technology to add to their design process. Designer Brooke Roberts successfully incorporated a high-vis effect reflective yarn (microscopic glass beads bonded onto a wool filament) into a desirable collection of visionary knitwear last season, and she has used bioceramic yarn - a new technology yarn of ceramic material bonded to a man-made base for SS12. According to Roberts, "it helps regulate body temperature and metabolism, but best of all it feels luscious. I've mixed it with extra-fine merino wool to create my own unique fabrications." It seems traditional textiles are taking a back seat in the quest for design excellence (sheep better start looking for a second profession)
Technology not only changes how fashion is communicated, but also how it is inspired, constructed and sold. We can only imagine what changes the next decade will bring to an already fast evolving industry.
Follow Georgina Langford on Twitter: www.twitter.com/theglitterbird