In light of the coronavirus pandemic, many events and fashion shows, have had to cancel or postpone. London Fashion Week announced that, for the first time since it launched in 1983, the event is going to be held online, making it available not only to fashion buyers and industry insiders, but also to the public and the rest of the world. Instead of the traditional display of physical shows, the industry has seen different cities transitioning into the digital sphere amidst current circumstances — with Fashion Weeks in Shanghai, Moscow and Tokyo going fully online too. However, London is still the first major city on the fashion circuit to adapt and go online, making a usually highly exclusive event, slightly more mass market.
This new digital model is interesting to say the least. Scheduled from 12 to 14 June over a weekend, when the men’s shows normally occur, the online platform will provide other insights aside from the usual runway display. Interviews, podcasts and digital showrooms will be available on the official London Fashion Week website, offering a range of never before seen content, access to exclusive discussions with designers and webinars. Another interesting aspect of LFW online is that the event will also be gender neutral, meaning that menswear, womenswear and genderless shows will be merged and presented together, perhaps following the recent trend for mixed shows as seen from luxury brands such as Gucci, Burberry and Jacquemus.
Is going digital the answer the fashion industry is looking for during these times? In my opinion, it seems to be the most appropriate solution. Recently, Gucci confirmed that it would cancel its Cruise 2021 show, which was scheduled to take place on 18 May in San Francisco, while Prada announced that it had decided to postpone its 2021 Cruise show which was originally to take place in Tokyo. Issues of sustainability have also been brought to light, with certain brands such as Saint Laurent expressing that they will take ownership of their own show schedule.
Other red carpet events such as the New York Metropolitan Museum’s Met Gala, the Council of Fashion Designers of America awards, and the LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers have also been halted. It’s safe to say that exploring showrooms online is definitely a convenient way for buyers to place orders and connect with new brands, but the physical need to touch materials and view silhouettes still persists. However, as social distancing continues, technology once again proves its ability to bring designers, creatives, artists and brand partners together, facilitating ongoing collaboration.