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London Fashion Week delegates 2019

London Fashion Week sashays over to digital platform

Image credit: Dreamstime

The British Fashion Council has announced that this year's London Fashion Week events will be merged and take place entirely online with podcasts and “digital showrooms”.

Fashion shows due to take place in Paris and Milan have been cancelled or postponed – along with every other major event for the next few months – due to the coronavirus pandemic.

These cancellations and postponements are a further blow for the beleaguered fashion sector, which has been hit hard by Covid-19 with retail locations and non-essential manufacturing all put on hold across the globe. British high-street fashion retailers have been particularly badly affected, with Debenhams, Oasis and Warehouse all forced into administration.

The fashion world has been waiting for a decision on London Fashion Week, which traditionally takes place twice a year: the menswear event in June and the womenswear event in September.

Today, the British Fashion Council announced that the two events would be merged into a single digital event. The event will take place June 12-13 - the period during which the real-world London Fashion Week Men’s event had originally been scheduled.

The new event will centre around a digital platform which will welcome both trade and consumer audiences, marking the first time the event will be open to the public. It will host content from artists, brands, designers and other creatives, including interviews, podcasts, designer diaries, webinars and “digital showrooms”.

Reflecting its temporary focus on internet platforms, its new brand partners will include Amazon, Facebook - and its subsidiary image-driven social media site, Instagram - and Google.

“It is essential to look at the future and the opportunity to change, collaborate and innovate,” said Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council. “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.”

“We are adapting digital innovation to best fit our needs today and something to build on as a global showcase for the future. Designers will be able to share their stories and, for those that have them, their collections, with a wider global community,” she continued. “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.”

As the coronavirus pandemic has forced galleries, museums, theatres and other cultural spaces to close there has been a move towards making their content accessible by online, such as 'proshot' plays broadcast by the National Theatre Live project. Debuting collections without the atmosphere, intimacy and elaborate presentation associated with the catwalk will prove a creative challenge for designers.

So far, Moscow, Tokyo, and Shanghai have held digital-only versions of their fashion weeks. Shanghai Fashion week took place on Alibaba marketplace Tmall and featured online shopping, videos of previous fashion shows and new collections presented in different “rooms”.

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