Fashion vs Digital
Fashion, by it's very nature, is about moving forward. By the time we are all coming to terms with the fact winter is here, the fashion editors are already planning what to wear next summer.
Yet, strangely, it's only been fairly recently that fashion labels and shops have really had an attractive web presence. Only a few years ago the best we could hope for was clunky buttons on clunky e-commerce sites and positively baffling sites allegedly showcasing designers' work. Not very fitting for a fast paced industry.
Thankfully, we are beginning to see the fashion industry use digital media in a really interesting, creative way. Sites are often now slick and user-friendly or challenging and unusual - overall more reflective of the actual products.
Clearly this isn't always the case, but it does seem that increasingly the online presence of labels/shops is beginning to be as considered as the offline collateral and, in the case of shops, often the only presence, which means it really needs to be as appropriate and beautifully made as possible. This progress is in keeping with the nature of fashion. Fashion may, ultimately, be about money but it's also about beauty, inspiration, art, exploration and innovation.
Whilst generally functionality is king when it comes to websites, and most adhere to that mantra, I personally appreciate sites that bend the rules and make the user work a little bit harder to find the goodies. You may not be able to have a tactile experience online, but you can certainly have a visual one.
There are 3 sites which I feel really provide the customer/user a visual experience.
This is an ecommerce site to showcase up and coming labels. The design is clean and minimal with a monochromatice palette designed to ensure the creative work within really stands out. The grid has been well utilised with lots of clean, white space and beautifully considered typography.
This is a jeans label from Sweden and this site, for me, is as close to getting the experience of print translated online. The navigation is not at all obvious but encourages the user to click around it and explore the site. After a little while it becomes apparent that anything in a black box is navigation, but there are additional jump off points in there too. The typography makes it feel very much like a magazine and, again, the palette is monochrome, but this time it's perfectly in keeping with the jeans which only come in black.
Comme des Garcon
This is definitely a love it or hate it site. Rei Kawakubo fans will get it instantly and non-fans will find it merely a myriad of random, chaotic images. Interestingly, there are no Comme des Garcon clothes on the site as it serves to showcase the collaborations between the Japanese label and contemporary artists such as Mondongo and The Quay Brothers. Not entirely sure how this site can develop in it's current form, however Rei is known for innovation so undoudtedly the next instalment of the site will be equally provocative.