Shane Cullen discusses the online shopping surge and how catwalks are now readily made for the digital checkout.

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RETAILERS and designers are always conscious of the expiry dates that come with fashion trends, but now there is a movement of customers opting to buy that new LBD or a casual shirt online instead of going to the high street. The rising increase of online shopping means there is now even more competition between stores than ever before, as the likes of Boohoo and Missguided are giving established retailers such as H&M and River Island a run for their money.

With an impressive 2.6 million followers on Instagram alone, Boohoo.com is arguably the leader of the pack in online shopping. The clothing giant, with a target audience of 16-24 year olds, has taken the success in their stride, with the help of glossy TV ads and a clever social media presence.

“The rise in the online retailer is far from a phase like a fashion trend, as they are using their growth to take opportunities.”

Ten years on from its launch, Boohoo founders Carol Kane and Mahmud Kamani have a lot to celebrate as it is reported that the retailer had a 130% profit increase and over 4 million customers in August 2016.

The rise in the online retailer is far from a phase like a fashion trend, as they are using their unprecedented growth to create new opportunities. Kamani’s sons, Umar and Adam are the faces behind Boohoo’s sister project, PrettyLittleThing. Having both studied fashion, the Kamani brothers had a clear scope of how they wanted their label to progress.

Like with Boohoo, PrettyLittleThing has followed suit in promoting their brand with attention grabbing TV ads and the launch of a smartphone app to accommodate the faster shop experience. PrettyLittleThing has had equal success, with famous faces including Little Mix’s Perrie Edwards and Jade Thirlwall spotted donning some of the retailer’s designs.

“River Island have introduced a happy medium to attract customers to using their online and high street stores in the form of a ‘click and collect’ service.”

With the likes of the online “e-tailer” having a major influence on the rapidity of contemporary trends and shopping habits, what are the established high street retailers doing to keep up with this? River Island have focused their attention to online sales after seeing a 30% growth. The clothing chain have introduced a happy medium to attract customers to using their online and high street stores in the form of a “click and collect” service, allowing the buyer to pick up their pre-ordered Saturday night outfit in store for free.

The high-street outlets are turning to new creative forces in the hope of drawing sales to their stores, with H&M teaming up with a new high fashion house every year; most noticeably Balmain in 2015, in an attempt to appeal to the younger buyer. H&M have also tried to generate interest by featuring rapper M.I.A. in their TV ad campaign for World Recycling Week.

The new online retailers, however, seem to have the upper-hand with advertising to their target audiences for now, with Sofia Richie featuring in PrettyLittleThing’s TV advert, after being announced as the face of the brand. When it comes to retail, it is now anyone’s game as online sales increase as rapidly as the wishlist basket.