The Evolution of Digital Fashion Week
Words by Elise Stavely
Designers have been challenged throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to showcase their seasonal collections amid the uncertainty of the future of fashion events. To the fore of the Met Gala, fashion week as a whole is the biggest event in fashion annually.
While some designers are finding ways to safely have physical in-person shows, others are finding more innovative ways to showcase their collections in the digital world. Designers are currently curating creative ways to showcase their collections, expressing their brand and message to crowds of elite fashion critics.
Digital fashion week shows have already begun to replace iconic catwalk shows. Unfortunately, the digital platform forces us to go without socialising, networking and being launched into the striking atmosphere of fashion week. Saint Laurent, Jacquemus and Giorgio Armani are a few of the designers who have decided to take a “seasonless” approach to exhibiting their collections, going at their own pace and embracing a more creative and sustainability focused process. A key success to digital fashion week has been the
Below, I will walk you through an outline of digital fashion shows that have taken place over the past year so far:
In March we saw the beginning of what was foreseen as fashion weeks breakdown with Chanel, Miu Miu and Louis Vuitton being among those designers who were forced to cancel their shows amid constant uncertainty and changes as the new coronavirus had taken over the world.
Shanghai fashion week was the first to embrace a digital-only approach – having no live fashion shows that involved guests. It was reported that Shanghai was a commercial success, gaining 11 million viewers and selling $2.2m of merchandise direct to consumers during livestreams.
Come June, New York Fashion Week Resort Spring/Summer and London Fashion Week was set to take place for designers who had taken upon initiative to launch their fashion shows digitally. The British Fashion Council translated their physical shows to an online event featuring a range of features including digital parties, live-streamed collection expositions and video clips from Zoom symposiums. London Fashion Week’s website also showcased fashion events which were gender-agnostic, enabling menswear, womenswear, and genderless labels to participate while also enabling the fashion calendar to run more closely to its original schedule.
Differently, designers including Burberry and Richard Quinn made the decision to postpone their spring/summer collection shows until September.
July saw a multitude of fashion week events from Hermès, FHCM, Prada and Gucci.
Hèrmes held a livestreamed digital experience for its Spring 2021 collection, followed by Prada with a five-part film which they used to exhibit their collection which was found to be a success. Gucci also premiered their men’s and women’s resort collection as a digital fashion show.
In Paris, FHCM (Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode) hosted the first-ever virtual couture fashion week. The three-day digital event displayed videos and live content emulated the form of a physical fashion week. The fashion shows were organised into time slots that enabled back-to-back streams on the one platform.
Swedish Fashion Association premiered a virtual fashion week that catered directly to press, influencers, and other stakeholders alongside consumers. Designers were involved in talk-show style interviews along with product presentation.
Copenhagen fashion week also took place online which included a sequence of physical and Zoom talks, Q&A’s, fashion shows and events.
Set to take place in New York, fashion powerhouse, Pyer Moss is holding a drive-in fashion event where to premier Kerby Jean Raymond’s new film American, coinciding with a drop of clothing.
Locally, Zimmermann and Christopher Esber virtually displayed their collections. Zimmermann’s ‘Wild Botanica’ fashion show incorporated a range of botanical sets that corresponded with the designs inspired by the work of the botanical artist, Ellis
Christopher Esber opted for a filmed runway with models walking through a captivating white tunnel that has been claimed to represent “a kind of birth canal into a post-pandemic world”.
And back to Paris Fashion Week, - only limited brands will have live, physical runway shows, including Dior, Hèrmes, Louis Vuitton and Chanel, running with the approval of authorities.
Despite lacking the atmospheric and theatrical element of live fashion shows, many designers will continue to embrace digitising their fashion shows, yet many of us will swoon over the return of the live and physical catwalk shows that will hopefully make a return soon.
Images thanks to The Jakarta Post, Tatler Hong Kong, Zimmermann and Vogue.