Socially Distant Fashion Shows Begin in London

London’s Digital Fashion Week

Today marks the launch of the first ever digital-only Fashion Week in London. Paris and Milan will follow suit with digital fashion shows in July.

Coronavirus-related restrictions have forced the $310 billion personal luxury goods industry to rethink how it introduces new lines. Designers can no longer pack hundreds of guests into glitzy venues for fashion shows so they must find creative alternatives for showcasing their work. The world of fashion shows could be permanently changed because of innovations developed during this period.

Designers Will Debut Digitally This Summer

Italian suit maker Ermenegildo Zegna will present its latest line in a “phygital” show, or a combination of physical and digital, on July 17 in Milan. The event will include a pre-recorded portion and a segment with live models. Each model will fill out a COVID-19 exposure questionnaire and do a temperature check. Stylists will wear masks and gloves, and the clothes will be carefully disinfected. The show will be available to watch online.

New York-based fashion label Pyer Moss will distribute a feature-length film about its famous runway show in 2019 instead of putting together a live show this summer. The film, titled American Also, will premiere in drive-in theaters across the US.

Many brands, like Saint Laurent and Gucci, are still trying to determine how they will showcase their new collections. Gucci already stated it will reduce its annual fashion shows from five to just two. Italian luxury fashion house Giorgio Armani announced it will hold shows in September, but the format of those shows is still to be determined.

The Future of the Runway Show Post-Pandemic

Some designers and event producers predict that traditional fashion shows with live audiences may not return until 2021. People will probably feel reluctant to gather in large crowds for some time. Additionally, many companies will be trying to cut down on spending and may not want to fly editors and buyers to attend fashion shows. If the demand for live shows does not come back, brands may continue to lean on digital alternatives.

Investors will be watching closely to see if online fashion shows will generate the same sales numbers as their in-person counterparts. Digital shows are less expensive to put together than live ones, but may not be able to conjure the same magic. The question now is whether saving on production costs will make up for drops in sales if digital fashion shows are not able to produce the same buzz that live shows have created for decades.

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