The British Fashion Council has unveiled a new strategy in response to the increasing restrictions and impacts of Covid-19 on the fashion industry.
TEXT: BEA TAYLOR
The British Fashion Council announced on Tuesday that it will be merging its menswear and womenswear fashion programmes, traditionally held in June and September respectively, into one gender-neutral week starting on 12 June.
This decision comes into play as the global fashion industry contends with the fallout of the Covid-19 crisis. “The current pandemic is leading us all to reflect more poignantly on the society we live in and how we want to live our lives and build businesses when we get through this,” said Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council.
Not only will this event be completely digital, but it will also, for the first time, be open to the public.
“Designers will be able to share their stories, and for those that have them, their collections, with a wider global community; we hope that as well as personal perspectives on this difficult time, there will be inspiration in bucketloads. It is what British fashion is known for,” says Rush.
The consolidation of the menswear and womenswear programmes reflects a consciousness that was already apparent in the fashion industry. Androgynous dressing is becoming increasingly fashionable as a statement of fluidity, but also as a response to sustainability and efforts to be less wasteful.
Rush calls it a shift toward a more cultural fashion week; “Many of our businesses have always embraced London Fashion Week as a platform for not just fashion, but for its influence on society, identity and culture. By creating a cultural fashion week platform, we are adapting digital innovation to best fit our needs today and something to build on as a global showcase for the future.”
The British Fashion Council say the digital-only format for London Fashion Week will include designer diaries, webinars, digital showrooms, interviews and podcasts.
The move to digital is expected, but not new. Digital offers more opportunity for reach, greater sustainability and less cost, however, it doesn’t come without its obstacles. One of which is a viewer’s notoriously short attention span online. You can’t simply walk out of a real-life fashion show, but online it’s as easy as CTRL+T/COMMAND W.
How designers will come up with innovative and interesting ways to present collections to entice buyers and retailers among the plethora of online content calls for a completely new approach. That’s not to say it can’t be done. Earlier this year, in lieu of the Shanghai Fashion Week cancellation, Xcommons managed to produce one of the best virtual shows we’ve seen yet.
Moscow Fashion Week also presented in a purely digital format at the start of this month, featuring mini-films, lookbooks and mood boards, and managed to attract more than 800,000 views online.