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This COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated many business and cultural processes, and fashion is no stranger to this ongoing revolution. The UK has been hit hard, with more than 30,000 deaths recorded as of May 11th. London’s Fashion Week organisers have decided to put the entire Spring / Summer (SS) 2021 London Fashion Week, both men’s and women’s, online in June, making it the UK’s first all-digital fashion week.
The British Fashion Council’s quarterly event is usually scheduled by season and gender, with SS menswear shows usually taking place in June and womenswear in September. Breaking with tradition this year, digital fashion catwalk events will take place online and at @LondonFashionWeek, meaning fashion fans won’t need a ticket or a coveted invitation. The June events will be accompanied by a multimedia rollout with interviews, podcasts and digital showrooms, which will be open to the public after the Shanghai and Moscow Fashion Weeks, which will also take place online due to the coronavirus.
LFW is not the first fashion week to turn into an online event – Shanghai hosted digital fashion weeks in 2014 and 2015, Tokyo live streamed fashion week shows in March due to lockdown, and New York’s prestigious fashion school, the Fashion Institute of Technology, went digital with its graduate show in April also due to the lockdown.
The British Fashion Council (BFC) said on Monday: “By creating a cultural fashion week platform, we can best adapt digital innovation to what we need today and deliver what is a global showcase for the future.” Menswear and womenswear designers will present their work starting on June 12, with more than 150 designers and brands livestreaming their collections. To enhance the viewing experience, some designers will go behind the camera to share their inspiration with fans in real-time, with some allowing the public to purchase runway looks in real-time on their phones. The show will blend womenswear and menswear, a current gender-neutral trend that iconic brands such as Burberry, Gucci and Jacquemus are following.
While digital fashion is not yet mainstream on digital platforms like Instagram, it is gaining traction in the fashion industry. With the BFC’s decision, London will be the first city on the high street to introduce an exclusively digital model. What is today an exceptional endeavor, might become the new norm for the fashion industry at large in the years to come.