July 27, 2012, 4:15 PM

eBay will sponsor a big fashion show in London

The move is part of eBay’s strategy to change its image among U.K. consumers.

Lead Photo

EBay has signed a sponsorship deal with the British Fashion Council, which organizes the twice-yearly London Fashion Week event, one of the largest fashion shows in the world.

EBay says the multi-season sponsorship deal will cover the BFC’s Fashion Forward show—which supports emerging designers in the U.K.—and will be managed by eBay’s fashion arm.

“Partnering with the British Fashion Council provides an opportunity to show our support to emerging British fashion talent, helping them to develop the long-term success of their businesses,” says Melanie Smallwood, head of eBay fashion brands.

The new sponsorship deal comes just a month after eBay made some key personnel changes, including appointing former Sainsbury’s director Tanya Lawler to a newly created role as vice-president of U.K. trading. The company said at the time that the appointment is part of its strategy to drive growth for its existing retail brand and business seller partners, which include well-known U.K. fashion labels Superdry, Bench, House of Fraser and LK Bennett.

Caroline Rush, chief executive of the BFC, says she hopes eBay’s support will open new markets to the emerging designers’ Fashion Forward showcases. "In its sixth year it has grown to encompass both womenswear and menswear designers and now supports seven designers each year; making this the perfect time to announce eBay as its new sponsor,” Rush says. “EBay’s sales statistics are overwhelming and we hope they will help to bring opportunities to the designers they support.”

EBay’s U.K. fashion business grew by between 20-30% last year, outpacing the growth rate of general U.K. e-commerce, eBay said in a statement announcing the sponsorship. The site hosts around 640,000 fashion sellers including more than 100 high street brands and major retailers. EBay says it is looking to add 40 to 60 retailers and brands to its fashion offerings this year. Around 4 million shoppers a month on average look for clothing, shoes and accessories on eBay.co.uk—up from around 2 million a month in March 2010—and consumers buy 636 dresses on average each hour on eBay.co.uk.,eBay says.

While Fashion Forward is six years old, London Fashion Week has been taking place twice a year—in February and September—every year since 1984. It is now considered one of the largest fashion weeks, along with those in New York, Milan and Paris.

Consumers place approximately 100 million British pounds (US $157.29 million) worth of fashion orders at London Fashion Week, according to the BFC.

This season’s event, called London Fashion Week SS13, will mark the start of the partnership with eBay Fashion, which is planning a series of activities, including what the company describes as the biggest-ever online fashion auction in aid of Save the Children’s No Child Born to Die campaign. Designers, celebrities and U.K. fashion media will donate up to 200 items for the auction, which takes place over London Fashion Week and aims to raise 50,000 pounds (US $78,645) for the charity, eBay says.

Smallwood adds that eBay is looking to broaden consumers’ perception of the company. “EBay is more than just an auction house,” she says. “It’s a shopping destination like no other. You’ll find high street brands selling direct alongside smaller boutiques and international businesses as well as consumer sellers. EBay Fashion unites style seekers and enables you to shop anytime and anywhere.”

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