Are Digital Fashion Weeks Here to Stay?
By: Mireya Perez
During these past months of quarantine, we’ve seen the first-ever digital fashion weeks take place. Paris Haute Couture Week started in the French capital on Sunday, July 5th, with a live video broadcast from the Hermès men’s department.
Since the canceling of the biggest Fashion Week events, we’ve had enough time to analyze the impact that traditional fashion show schedules have on the industry as a whole. For both the brands and the audience, the question is, does this mixture of pre-recorded video presentations and live transmissions make up for the whole experience of a Fashion Week?
Since this season the focus couldn’t be on the clothes, designers had to look for new ways to tell their stories. Creativity, talent, and new technologies had to converge. For the brands, having live streams available and, therefore, being able to deliver their message and collection to anyone, anywhere, definitely paid off.
“The traditional approach to runway shows can be restrictive. There are limits like the number of people who come watch the show, the marketing reach, or which venues we could choose,” said Dido Liu, founder and creative director of the indie clothing brand Deepmoss.
This was made obvious last March when Shanghai Fashion Week closed off with more than 11 million total views and revenue of $2.82 million. Paris Haute Couture Week had a similar result: Launchmetrics estimates the Media Impact Value of the Haute Couture and Men’s PFW Online at $65.1M.
But it just didn’t feel the same for everyone in the public. In the words of Elizabeth Paton, from the New York Times:
“Browsing the website, with its mix of mediums like video art and music playlists, photo retrospectives and designer Q. and A.s, felt like turning the pages of an interactive magazine or scrolling through an arty Instagram feed. Though there were pops of originality, the digital formula lacked a sense of urgency or the anticipation that grows while you are sitting and waiting for catwalk theatrics or a hot debut — whether in the audience or watching a live stream anywhere at all.”
On the other hand, Sarah Mower, the chief critic of Vogue, has a different perspective:
“It feels as if the presentation of fashion is undergoing as big a shift as Hollywood did when it went from silent movies to the talkies. One thing the pandemic has done is to force creative directors to be more creative about what they want to say about their work, and I’m all for that. (…) Fashion is suddenly crossing the threshold of a vast new era of communication, so that far more interesting, honest, in-depth, and delightful things have been happening than could ever be conveyed by models walking back and forth in front of a crowd of seated people.”
Creativity has been the main focus for designers and publicists during this time of online shows. Gucci and Burberry had their latest collection modeled by employees and many other brands incorporated different perspectives or unusual settings to make their shows unique.
Even with the different opinions that digital fashion weeks have left on the public, it’s clear that making fashion events more available for everyone is an advantage for the fashion lovers out there and, with good revenue and an increased social impact for the brands, it seems to be a win-win situation. Perhaps future fashion weeks will incorporate both digital and traditional ways to best appeal to the masses.