BA (Hons) Fashion Business and Promotion Lecturer Sophie Johnson discusses the future of fashion week, amidst the upcoming digital London Fashion Week 2021. Sophie’s commentary was featured on the Retail Gazette.
Traditionally any changes to fashion weeks have been frowned upon, take Vivienne Westwood for example, changing schedules and adding menswear. There has always been a very rigid structure and has always been controversy around how fashion weeks adapt to industry changes previously. Such as the debate around social media ruining exclusivity of these events and influencer invites and a new era of fashion front rows. So in my opinion London Fashion Week has always been very slow to adapt, but quite rightly due to their values and guiding principles. But now Fashion Weeks across the world are backed into a Covid Corner. Fashion events all over the globe are having to adapt to digital displays but have created some fantastic innovation for the launch of collections. For example Moschino’s advergaming digital launch.
The whole fashion and events industry have learnt some fantastic lessons. Why do events need to be in person anymore? They cost a lot of money, in production through to travel and marketing. However, there is every change traditional large-scale events such as LFW will return, as part of their legacy and guiding values. However, will all brands be a part of this? That’s the question, some brands have been able to take their own shows and digital experiences into their own hands and make statements for themselves. Any brands that have already made huge digital advancements as part of their portfolio may chose to remain digital and move with the post Covid times. More traditional luxury brands may wish to return to the norm.
Burberry is the perfect example of a brand that may or may not chose to physically showcase at Fashion Week. Burberry well before the pandemic has moved with the digital acceleration, and innovated its brand as other luxury outlets gasped in horror. No brands such as Burberry can really lead the way for luxury fashion brands of the future. This presents a opportunity to of get to maybe some of those more outlandish and less traditional luxury brands. Any retailers that have suffered a severe blow to profit will also benefit from digital fashion week platforms, reducing cost of production, travel and marketing.
It also seems that hybrid events will be here to stay. I am sure that once lockdown and restrictions end there will be a huge surge in in-person events however, due to changes and adaptions in life style will in person events ever be the same again when people have adapted to social distancing body language. So, hybrid events is likely to be a huge conservation in industry in coming months, as brands can discuss both a physical and digital offering.
I think mainly more traditional luxury brands will continue to push for in person events and belong to the physical umbrella that fashion weeks provide. Other more adaptable and digital focused luxury brands may want to continue to make a digital mark and move with the industry acceleration. This presents an opportunity for some of those more outlandish and less traditional luxury brands. Any retailers that have suffered a severe blow to profit will also benefit from digital fashion week platforms, reducing cost of production, travel and marketing.
It also begs the question, is the set fashion calendar still functional? Have we moved away from a very traditional fashion calendar promoted through the fashion week umbrellas, where mass market takes influence from the luxury brands? This is a very traditional notion developed through the idea of trickle down theory. Or has Covid-19 presented an opportunity for fashion weeks themselves to become more flexible?