• Kia Fullerton

London Fashion Week 2020 becomes digital for its 40th anniversary

The British Fashion Council (BFC) has announced London Fashion Week (LFW) Men's will become a digital-only, gender-neutral event for the first time in its 40-year history.

The decision for the show to became digital, was made in light of the coronavirus pandemic and marks the industry’s first attempt in maintaining social distancing rules.

Caroline Rush, chief executive of the BFC, said: "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.

"The other side of this crisis, we hope will be about sustainability, creativity and product that you value, respect, cherish."

Rush added: "By creating a cultural fashion week platform, we are adapting digital innovation to best fit our needs today and something to build on as a global showcase for the future."

The digital show is expected to take place on LFW website, between Friday 12th June and Sunday 14th June 2020. The event will be accessible for everyone including the general public, as viewers are not required to tickets to any of the digital offerings.

Due to no physical catwalks taking place, LFW will feature virtual content such as short films, interviews, podcasts, digital showrooms and after parties.

As the event is now gender neutral, both menswear and womenswear designers will share their experiences from the last few months and discuss other important issues within the fashion industry.

Viewers will be treated to virtual showrooms made possible through Joor, a digital platform for wholesaling fashion, while Smartzer will be providing technology to merge videos into interactive and clickable experiences like shoppable product.

More than 100 designers are taking part in London Fashion Week. The digital event welcomes big names including Rixo, Roksanda, Mulberry and Stephen Jones, who will all be contributing to the platform in some way.

We spoke to Fashion Stylist Jadzia Scott, 20, who has attended LFW in the past. She outlines the pros and cons of the show becoming digital. In the light of Covid-19, Jadzia mentioned it is better for the show to happen online. Not only because it prevents the risk of visitors getting the virus, but it benefits the environment as there will be a reduction in carbon footprint.

"We can't expect the digital experience to be the same as the traditional fashion shows, however we can be excited about navigating a new online space where graphically tech and fashion industries merge to create a beautiful visual/sound experience. We may even see 3D Virtual shows as well," she said.

Regarding LFW, logistically this is seemly the best approach during a pandemic, as more people are on their phones and laptops engaging in social media in general.

"A digital show will be cool, because it will allow for design inspiration and expression from a digital-tech point. Graphically that can be enticing and interesting to see how fashion and tech merges in an online space and a digital platform", she said.

Jadzia added, "It will be interesting to see how major power brands maintain their exclusive digital image as from a traditional social aspect they usually retain exclusivity via inviting senior members of the industry and highly influential individuals worldwide. So it will be interesting to see how they emulate this in an online space."

The context of street-style was also questioned, as fashion events such as LFW allows attendees to showcase their own individual and unique style. "How will celebrities and influencers in the industry be present at a show wearing a look directly from the runway? How will media outlets take street style images of these individuals?

"There's loads to think about in terms of content output and PR, as well as money circulation for everyone behind the scenes and the chance for regular or lesser known people in the industry to 'get their name out there' because a popular photographer took a picture of their outfit," she argued.

Jadzia Scott, ended with "I think it will influence social media a lot as that's where everyone goes to show off their outfits and invites to these events. I guess we will see in due time."

There is a clear divide of opinion on this year's LFW, as not all designers have embraced the new format. Established names like Burberry and Victoria Beckham are missing from the official schedule. Now, its simply the case to wait and see what unfolds at London Fashion Week.

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