Are digital fashion shows here to stay?

Netflix, Twitch, Youtube and Co: Corona has dramatically changed our daily screen time. Not only are we watching more TV, series and movies, but also explored new content that we usually wouldn’t consume or that simply wasn’t there before. Luckily, we don’t have to give up our daily dose of fashion because the industry in moving online!

With Gucci closing its production side, Levi’s and Estee Lauders chief executives cutting their salary base for the time being, Rebecca Minkoff laying off their brands wholesale employees, and Neiman Marcus filing for bankruptcy, the world of fashions has taken drastic measures in those undeniable tough times. What’s needed is the little extra portion of adaptivity.  

This adaptivity is best shown throughout these year’s Fashion weeks. While Fashion headquarters such as Milan, New York and Paris are facing major delays and even full cancellations of the shows (by i.e. Angel Chen, known from the Netflix series ‘Next in Fashion), a majority of the world’s largest design houses such as Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Hermes, Prada and Versace are cancelling their international resort 2021 runways as the result of the health crisis. However, those shows that do take place found an efficient way of bringing the world of fashion right into people’s living rooms. 

Already in February, Gorgio Armani barred an audience for his 2020 runway show and instead posted a video of the show on the brand’s website and social media platforms. To set an example, Giorgio himself was wearing a face mask after entering the building. This year’s first purely digital fashion week in Shanghai taught us a valuable lesson about what the fashion scene of the future could look like. With over 2.5 million people watching the opening ceremony on Alibaba’s Tmall and 6 million viewers turning on their screens on the first day, the online format exceeded any regular fashion show’s seating capacities by far. Lasting about an hour to half a day, a lot of the show resembled a home-shopping channel experience on QVC, where a salesperson is interacting with the viewers. 

But besides all the enthusiasm about the Fashion industry ‘making the best’ out of the current situation, others raise their worries about how digital fashion can replace the real deal. To be fair, designer had little time to put together their shows in the livestreaming ecosystem, which made them perfectly ok for a live show but not engaging enough for an online video. What is needed are fast-changing camera angels and quick changeovers that create the needed dynamics for a well-produced fashion film. At the same time, video recordings leave especially one question open: how is the feel actual feel of the quality and fabric? Low-resolution quality poses designers with one of the largest challenges, since is seems impossible to replace the interaction that takes place away from the catwalk (i.e. private appointments with potential buyers). 

While designers may struggle with the lack of human contact, those who usually don’t have a front-row seat benefit from extra insights and content. So sit back, relax and enjoy the (fashion) show!  

By Caroline