Amongst all the unconventional changes happening within the fashion industry, the British Fashion Council (BFC) has announced a change of direction for London Fashion Week this year. In fact, for the next 12 months, both womenswear and menswear shows will merge into one gender-neutral platform, which will allow designers greater flexibility.
In light of current events, the fashion week planned for June will take place on a new form as a digital-only platform which, with its relaunch, will be for both trade and consumer audiences embracing the cultural commentary, creativity and humorous spirit which British fashion and London are known for.
"It is essential to look at the future and the opportunity to change, collaborate and innovate. Many of our businesses have always embraced London Fashion Week as a platform for not just fashion but its influence on society, identity and culture. 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," commented Caroline Rush CBE, BFC Chief Executive.
"The other side of this crisis, we hope will be about sustainability, creativity and product that you value, respect, cherish. 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. 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," she continued.
The June shows will give a voice to British fashion businesses and creatives by tapping into London's cultural zeitgeist and highlighting its position as a global multi-cultural city. The platform will host exclusive multimedia content from designers, creatives, artists and brand partners, enabling collaboration and bringing together fashion, culture and technology.
Earlier this year, Shanghai Fashion Week also went fully digital and, according to Tmall, 2.5m viewers tuned in for the first three hours of the show and brands such as Zuczug saw sales conversions as high as 13% during their video streams. The stats also showed that smaller designers reached audiences of 20,000 to 40,000.
LFW is known for being innovative and hosting some of the most creative and undiscovered minds yet. But will going digital improve their chances of making it in the industry? Or will it just favour bigger and more established brands? And will this format work for a busy schedule like LFW? Ultimately, the problem with digital shows is that one cannot rely on technology alone. The SFW all-digital live streams included multiple glitches, and the pre-recorded videos turned out to be too low-resolution to get a feel of the clothes properly.
Inevitably though, this is a big step for LFW and hopefully a good influence for other fashion week events around the world. When it comes to the environment and the climate crisis we're facing, with no people having to travel to different countries for the shows, the digital platform could turn out to be a significant step forward for the fashion industry. A positive change welcomed during these challenging times.