SHANGHAI: Alibaba's Tmall hosted an eight-hour fashion extravaganza last Sunday to showcase a host of Chinese and international brands ahead of the e-commerce giant's annual 11.11 Single's Day shopping festival.

Up to 80 top brands, including Burberry, Vidal Sassoon, Adidas and Gap took part in the event, which featured around 200 models, among them Maye Musk and Sui He.

But the catwalk show went beyond simply introducing the latest fashions to the Chinese market because the event was also the first in a series that aims to connect with consumers and build up interest ahead of Single's Day, Alizila reported.

"The Tmall Global Fashion Show is a key event that kicks off our 11.11 Global Shopping Festival and one that underscores Tmall's tremendous growth in the past few years," said Chris Tung, CMO of Alibaba Group.

"For big-name fashion brands across the globe, Tmall has become not only a distribution channel, but also a branding powerhouse as well as a global gathering place for lifestyle and fashion trends," he added.

As some of the top fashion brands in the world gathered in Shanghai to promote their products, the show was streamed live for the first time on Mobile Taobao, and Youku, Alibaba's online video hub.

Viewers, as well as connecting with the catwalk event, were able to pre-order labels they liked at discounted prices that will be redeemed on Single's Day itself.

Alibaba made this "See Now, Buy Now" option a core component of the show, but Alizila also reported that the company wanted to "create buzz" among consumers.

Other initiatives to spark interest include the launch of a virtual reality shopping experience on November 1, which will involve an augmented reality game where players can chase Tmall's cat mascot through offline environments – rather like the Pokémon Go craze – in order to win coupons and prizes.

Alibaba has high expectations for this year's shopping event and the company's president, Michael Evans, told Bloomberg TV last week that it expects to surpass last year's sales of $14.3bn. However, he suggested that consumers' social experience will be just as important.

"The numbers will be big and they'll be bigger than last year," he said. "[But] if the social experience isn't a great event for all the people who participate, then we haven't really achieved what we want."

Data sourced from Alizila, Bloomberg; additional content by Warc staff