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Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet
Between Silicon Valley and New York City, the US has typically been considered the leader in anything digital to do with fashion. But London's giving the States a run for their money—literally—according to Business of Fashion founder Imran Amed. He wrote a piece for Wallpaper's fall issue on the topic and reproduced it on BoF today, and it's now making it's way around the internet. The basic idea is that despite issues of cash funding (the US has more venture capital investors for start-ups, giving tech companies here an economic leg up), tech and fashion energy are converging in London to make major waves.
In East London's tech-focused neighborhood (it's referred to, adorably, as the Silicon Roundabout) the number of technology start-ups has jumped from 15 to more than 300 in just three years. That, plus all the emerging British designers we're all freaking out about means good things for London's fashion tech scene. "London has a unique opportunity to become the digital hub for the creative and fashion industries, not just in Europe but possibly globally," a rep from London-based venture capital firm Advent Venture Partners told Amed.
Of course, any successful tech companies emerging out of London are already standing on the shoulders of giants: London-based start-ups Net-a-Porter and ASOS are two of the most successful e-commerce sites ever, and Amed isn't exaggerating when he says they've redefined online fashion retailing as we know it.
"Net-A-Porter is as much a technology company as it is a fashion company,” founder Natalie Massenet told Amed. “I spend almost as much time with my tech peers at events, round tables and research labs as I do at fashion shows.”
Amed points out that digital technology has also altered the way some of London’s biggest fashion brands are defining themselves. “Digital communications is an integral part of our culture at Burberry, so in the end it touches everybody,” chief creative officer Christopher Bailey told him.
So with all this going down, "London has emerged as one of the most exciting technology hubs in the world and the pace here is only accelerating," says Sonali de Rycker from Accel Partners, a top-tier venture capital firm. "Companies are clustering in areas such as the Silicon Roundabout and the cluster is attracting more talent, which is attracting more companies, creating a virtuous cycle."
Which should make for quite an interesting LFW in September.
· In Digital London, Technology and Fashion Collide [BoF]
· Nine London Fashion Week Designers to Watch Out for in US Stores Next Fall [Racked]