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Almost forty years since the British Fashion Council held their first London Fashion Week, they have announced that the quarterly event, historically divided by gender, as well as season, will become gender-neutral and commence digitally, due to the pandemic.
During the month in which London Fashion Week Men’s would have occurred—beginning June 12—a digital London Fashion Week will instead take place, hosted on londonfashionweek.co.uk, with both menswear and womenswear designers showcasing.
The virtual event will include, “interviews, podcasts, designer diaries, webinars and digital showrooms,” and be open to everyone, welcoming both industry insiders and fashion consumers.
“It is essential to look at the future and the opportunity to change, collaborate and innovate,” BFC Chief Executive Caroline Rush said in a statement. “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.”
“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.”
The merging of Men’s and Women’s fashion weeks this summer will not, however, signal the cancellation of September’s London Fashion Week. Instead, this new set up will encourage flexibility for designers within an increasingly demanding schedule.
“This will no doubt be an interesting time for brands to test new models, and think about how they can really connect with their customers.” ELLE UK’s Fashion Features Editor Sara McAlpine said of the digital shift.
“It’s challenging, of course, but a number of designers are already connecting digitally in new and exciting ways, whether it’s honing in on craft as Alexander McQueen has with its online Makers series, or fostering a sense of community and driving a set of values, like Kenneth Ize, who shares clips of his production process, spotlighting sustainability, and encourages followers to share their looks with the #KennethLovesYou hashtag.”
Criticisms of fashion weeks have been mounting over the last few seasons, owing to their cost, carbon footprint, and the sheer size of production; They’ve been charged with promoting detrimental environmental practices and ineffective business models for fashion brands.
Taking the events online, like Shanghai Fashion Week did in March, may be a viable solution to these problems moving forward, pandemic or not.
But we sure will miss the street style shots.