Do High Street brands have a place at Fashion Week?

With a Virtual London Fashion Week looming, BA (Hons) Fashion Business and Promotion lecturer, Sophie Johnson, questions whether the fashion week stage is the right place for High Street brands. 

Sophie Johnson

Clothes hanging on a rail in a high street shop

I don’t think it’s a question of how high street retailers can be involved with Fashion Week events, but whether they should. I believe the rapid changes in the fashion calendar mean there simply is no need. Due to the changing demands of consumers, these brands have their own products and schedules to worry about and are working faster than ever before to produce their own fashion calendar and blur the line of the fashion seasons.

Is this unsustainable and promoting fast fashion? Yes, but this is simply the reality of the mass market retailers right now. Some brands have had to move on from waiting for Fashion Week collections to launch as they create their own micro trends, adapt to consumer demands and take influences from places other than the catwalks in February and September.

Have fashion retailers also moved away from designer collaborations? H&M have previously and very successfully promoted collaborative product, and this is still seen very much in the streetwear sector, but how relevant is it now? Multi-million pound e-commerce brands such as In The Style have now built empires on collaboration, not with the luxury sector but with industry.

Topshop as part of Fashion Week is a very outdated concept, and we, again, need to reassess whether London Fashion Week is a place for high street brands. In Topshop’s heyday this was quite an achievement, and part of a very successful retail group at the time. Topshop and Arcadia has been labelled as a victim of the pandemic however Topshop’s problems began long before the pandemic. It lacked innovation, failed to adapt and continued with an almost arrogant attitude.

I don’t believe there is a gap to fill as mass market retailers are becoming less and less influenced by the catwalk and, with so many marketing channels at their disposal, they simply don’t need the spotlight from London Fashion Week.

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