By Li-mei Hoang
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's designers took to the stage at London Fashion Week over the weekend to showcase modern elegance and eclectic design, amid hopes the next generation of online shoppers would help boost sales in coming years.
Designer Jasper Conran filled the catwalk with leaves to create an autumnal mood. Models wore cashmere dresses and tunics, paired silk shirts and printed skirts, which were inspired by prints by Japanese artist Kunisada, in rich tones of aubergine, moss green, plum and chocolate.
Conran, whose privately listed business empire also encompasses designing furniture, home ware and collections for Britain's leading department store Debenhams, said 20 percent of his sales came from his online business and he expected his company's future growth to be driven by the Internet and use of technology.
"Given that the whole world is online and the global reach that gives you, it's phenomenally important (to have a presence online). We sell in 85 different countries, it's an important part of business," Conran told Reuters.
"What I know will happen in the next five years, is that the Internet will hugely change our business globally. And it will be the Internet that does that. And that will be, I imagine, where our substantial future growth comes," he added.
With online sales of clothing and footwear expected to grow to 19 billion pounds in the next four years, according to research firm Mintel, some designers are relying solely on the use of social media to help grow their businesses.
"For me, it’s a huge part of what I do. For someone who can't afford to advertise and afford traditional mediums to communicate to your consumer, then social media is a huge part of that," designer Henry Holland told Reuters.
"It has definitely helped me and my business, definitely enabled me to reach out to a wider audience, grow my business on a global scale," he added.
Holland, who founded his label House of Holland seven years ago, said he looked to futuristic films like "The Fifth Element" and "Blade Runner" for inspiration for his latest collection which featured striped sheepskin coats, patterned trousers and high-waisted mini skirts.
Designer Julien Macdonald showcased a collection of glamorous gothic-inspired evening dresses with lace and metallic detailing in shades of black, blood red and emerald green, whilst brightly colored latex dresses with furry trims and oversized knitted cardigans were seen at design trio Sibling.
London Fashion Week, which attracts more than 5,000 buyers, journalists and bloggers to the capital, runs until Feb. 24.
(Editing by Stephen Powell)