The future of Fashion Weeks
Updated: Jun 7
My dear readers on 5th of June I hosted a Brand Mooks Magazine online event about sustainable fashion: Is Sustainability the New Normal? 4 talented guests were speaking about many issues, including: supply chain, upcycling/recycling, customers behaviors and communication. In my talk I focused on the Fashion Weeks current situation, sustainability and some future predictions. As this talk has not be recorded I decided to transform it into a short article.
As some of you know already I am fashion week insider for Brand Mooks Magazine and fashion weeks and sustainability are two subjects that are very close to my heart.
Current Fashion Weeks Scene in under review
Fashion houses are dealing with the fallout of the global coronavirus pandemic, the fashion-week schedule that we know since years is currently under review, at least until end of holidays, if not longer. All depends on many things, including social distancing guidelines, travel restrictions and changes that fashion industry is currently undergoing. The upcoming September shows will certainly look different to what we know and I am curious to face it soon.
Here is a short update from the fashion capitals:
- July Paris Couture Fashion Week has been cancelled
- Men’s Paris and Milan Fashion Weeks are going virtual.
They will take place in July not June. What is unusual is that the two cities have swapped dates, with PFW now taking place a week before Milan, starting on the 9 July, while the Italian city will start virtual fashion week on the 14 July.
- New York Fashion Week has been postponed.
- London Fashion Week will go virtual and gender-neutral.
Both the men's and the women's shows will be hosted in the same virtual space.
- Last but not least Copenhagen Fashion Week will take place in August.
This was update about cities, now few large information’s from the large Fashion Houses:
- Saint Laurent has announced that it will no longer show during Paris Fashion Week, he is opting to run on its own schedule for the rest of the year. It is their response to the ongoing crisis.
"Conscious of the current circumstance and its waves of radical change, Saint Laurent has decided to take control of its pace and reshape its schedule," the house said. "Now more than ever, the brand will lead its own rhythm, legitimating the value of time and connecting with people globally."
- The house of Armani has announced a number of changes to its own schedule and presenting a season-less collection in January.
Both the Giorgio Armani and Emporio Armani men's and women's collections will be shown in September 2020, more details will be determined soon.
The house also revealed that the Armani Privé show (which takes place during Paris Couture Fashion Week in July) will now be postponed until January 2021. The house will show a season-less collection, presenting garments that can be worn both in summer and winter.
- Gucci is stepping back from the fashion calendar completely.
The Italian house announced via Instagram and through a virtual press conference with its creative director, Alessandro Michele: he said that brand will be presenting only 2 fashion shows per year and will be stepping away from the traditional fashion week calendar for good.
In the announcement, Michele said of the current spring/summer and autumn/winter system:
"I think these are stale and underfed words, clothes should have a longer life than that which these words attribute to them."
This is very important sentence that I will refer to later, it shows that current situation allows brands and designers also think about the sustainability of garments and environmental issues.
Fashion Weeks are going Online
Few online shows already took place:
-First Monte-Carlo Fashion Week fashion week has changed its format, from the usual 45 runways to a series of essential discussions on issues facing the fashion industry.
- Russia Digital Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia took place, but there was no streaming, only videos available.
- Shanghai “Cloud” Fashion Week China - fashion-week went fully digital. More than 150 designers and brands livestreamed their collections in March.
So this is an overview of a global situation, now I would like to focus a little bit on my personal experience and challenges that I identify.
I have been lucky to work in Milan in my early 20ties and face fashion week scene long time ago, of course I was living a different experience then working as a young model as now as a fashion content creator, editor and writer. What I can see as first issue is definitely too busy program that require a lot of planning. There is extremely complicated schedule full of overlapping and tightly arranged shows, presentations, after-parties, galas and receptions. In my opinion it is really too much and I find it as a one of biggest issues with fashion weeks. It feels more as quantity and we either have to choose few things a day that I am trying to do each time, but then end up accepting more shows or presentations in the end. So agenda is definitely something that should change, I assume that some brands will not be presenting their collections anymore and some shows will be more virtual, so hopefully the agenda will be more easy to manage.
There is a misconception that Fashion Weeks are not promoting sustainable projects and there is a lot of pressure on the fact that many people travel to the Fashion capitals and there is a huge amount of CO2 emitted. Of course I will not argue with this however I must tell that since few years during MFW I have seen a lot of suitable solutions. They went paperless and we often use phones to access most shows or presentations.
There are fashion hubs where emerging and sustainable designers are presented. Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana hosts Eco-Age Green Carpet events that reflects the commitment of fashion houses to sustainability I have seen many designers highlighting their sustainability approaches and I interviewed few of them for Brand Mooks , for example Eleventy or Numero 00.
In my opinion Fashion weeks can actually be bridges and amazing ambassadors to promote sustainability and circular economy.
Another very important update to current Fashion Weeks situation is an open letter write by group of people from the fashion industry including designer: Dries van Noten who initiate this project.
"This letter came together in a series of conversations with a shared vision on how to transform fashion and fashion weeks: We agreed that the current environment although challenging, presents an opportunity for a fundamental and welcome change that will simplify our businesses, making them more environmentally and socially sustainable and ultimately align them more closely with customers’ needs. We hope to achieve this by adjusting the seasonality and flow of both womenswear and menswear goods, starting with the Autumn/Winter 2020 season:
- Put the Autumn/Winter season back in winter (August/January) and Spring/Summer season back in summer (February/July)
- Create a more balanced flow of deliveries through the season to provide newness but also time for products to create desire
- We will also work to increase sustainability throughout the supply chain and sales calendar through:
- Less unnecessary product
- Less waste in fabrics and inventory
- Less travel
- Make use of digital showrooms in addition to personal creative interactions
- Review and adapt fashion shows
- Working together
Revolutionizing the way industry players organised fashion weeks may be vital...
According to the Business of Fashion's recent report, the industry as a whole is facing roughly a 30% decrease in revenue. This amounts to approximately $600 billion worth of decline in global revenue. By looking at these statistics it is clear that revolutionizing the way industry players organised fashion weeks may be vital to the survival of many brands worldwide. Businesses will have to wait and see what new normal will be
Reversing seasons will be so much more aligned with the natural fashion rhythm, not only designers will benefit from this, but also for buyers and customers. We will be able to buy catwalk looks and wear it instead of waiting half an year. Another great initiative is going gender-neutral and combining men and women shows. This will reduce number of events yearly and influence travels costs and CO2 emission. Going virtual is also inevitable, let's just hope it will be only part of fashion weeks presentations, not 100 %.
To finish my article, I strongly disagree that fashion weeks needs to stop or go completely online, because they are not the biggest challenges when it comes to fashion becoming more sustainable. Of course changes that I talk about have to be implemented, but world needs fashion weeks, we need this dream, desire, identity, inspiration, status and this is what fashion can give us.
Please let me know what are your thought about the future of Fashion Weeks, I would love to hear from you.