LONDON (Reuters) - Designers are embracing a growing crowd of internet-savvy fashion followers taking catwalk glamour beyond the coveted front row, with many young creators welcoming a trend they say brings them closer to consumers.
After years of shunning the internet, a changing luxury market has forced even top fashion houses to welcome the world wide web and, more recently, a burgeoning blogging and micro-blogging, or "tweeting," culture.
For young designers like 29-year-old Canadian Mark Fast, showcasing his collection of body-molding knitwear at London's fashion week, the blogosphere offers a voice to new opinions and a platform for the startup brands themselves.
"It's a great way to reach many more people," Fast said backstage, as models and dressers swarmed ahead of his show.
"Everyone has an opinion -- it's nice to hear what these people are thinking, to give them a voice. Why not?"
Fast has become a darling of the controversy-hungry blogging crowd after choosing larger models to showcase his collection alongside the more traditional, long-limbed size zeros, a move he says that is more about diversity than ruffling feathers.
Mary Katrantzou, who showed her collection of structured dresses in dramatic, 18th-century inspired trompe-l'oeil prints alongside Fast, said bloggers offered her useful input, but most critically, put her in direct touch with consumers.
"It is a new way of getting in touch with people and finding out what they feel about your clothes," she told Reuters.more
By Clara Ferreira-Marques and Basmah Fahim