21st April 2020

London Fashion Week Goes Digital

The British Fashion Council sets the pace for a post-Covid-19 fashion world.

Even for those who only work tangentially to fashion, the pressing and growing question has been: how will the fashion capitals accommodate Coronavirus when it comes to their showpiece events – the Fashion Weeks?  As the rate of global infection has continued, and country-wide lockdowns extended, it became increasingly clear obvious that there was going to have to be some new thinking on how to handle the most important selling periods for the fashion industry in the world.  At least for the immediate future.  Conversations have naturally turned to digital solutions.  But that only left more questions in terms of what exactly that would entail and how it would be implemented on a near global scale.

Roksanda, London Fashion Week, A/W2020

In real ‘fashion forward’ style (forgive the pun), the British Fashion Council has been the first in the world to take the lead by announcing, first, that for the next twelve months all London Fashion weeks will be merged to show both Men’s and Women’s collections together.  Secondly, for the SS2021 Fashion Week the BFC will also be launching a brand new digital only platform.  This new platform will not only show the next season’s collections but also act as a cultural hub to bring the wider fashion community and the public together and allow them to interact and least keep the channels of creativity so important to the industry open.  The other major consequence this decision will be to mitigate the very real effect the pandemic is having and will have on the wider fashion economy in the UK.  Buyers will still be able to buy, even if the volumes may be lower.  Imagine the cost if there was no coherent plan in place for them to be even able to do that.

JW Anderson, London Fashion Week, A/W2020

As we’ve highlighted before, one of the main reason why British fashion has moved through the gears so rapidly over the past ten years and become the dominant force it is in the global industry has been the leadership of Caroline Rush in the CEO’s chair at the BFC during that time.  In fashion you can never underestimate the value of being the first with a good idea and a plan to implement it.

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 for 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. 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. – Caroline Rush.

Rejina Pyo, London Fashion Week, A/W2020

The new gender neutral London Fashion Week will also start on a new date, June 12th, covering the span usually reserved for the Men’s shows.  Given how many show seasons there are each year there may even be an argument to be made for making the gender neutral format permanent.  In terms of the sustainability aspects mentioned it would certainly reduce the amount of travel needed each year.  Over the next couple of months we’ll be learn more about exactly what format this new platform will take, who will be involved and how we can all be part of it.  There’s a new world coming for the industry and British fashion takes the lead.


Main image: Halpern, London Fashion Week, SS2020


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