Celine FW20 runway review


27 May 2020

What Will the Fashion Industry Look Like Post-COVID-19?

Due to obvious reasons, the fashion world is at an impasse. Both men’s- and couture fashion week in June have been canceled and all other fashion weeks in 2020 will probably follow soon. But that’s not the only ‘problem’. Production of the Fall/Winter collections are being delayed or canceled and buyers are canceling orders. The current fashion system and schedule have been failing for a long time, but now it’s clear to all parties involved that it is time for a change.

“It’s fascinating to see brands changing because of COVID because it was clear prior to COVID that we were going the wrong way, but then nobody wanted to change. Now change is in, so fashion wants to change,” said fashion critic Pam Boy on Twitter, adding “lol good job” to it.

Fuck the system

The system is broken, so we must change it. Saint Laurent was one of the first to announce that it is leaving the Paris Fashion Week schedule. Later, an open letter led by Belgian designer Dries Van Noten was sent out, asking the industry leaders to change the failing system. It’s calling for a rethink of global fashion weeks and an end to excessive discounting. The CFDA and the British Fashion Council already spoke out their support for a big change in the industry.

Recently, Gucci also joined the group of rebellious brands and designers, announcing to go season-less, whatever that may mean. In the words of the brand’s creative director Alessandro Michele: “I will abandon the worn-out ritual of seasonalities and shows to regain a new cadence, closer to my expressive call.”

The message is nearly almost the same; the system was broken and near-impossible to keep up with. Now we have a unique chance to fix it.

Dries Van Noten MEN Spring/Summer 2020 runway show

Are virtual fashion shows the answer?

At this point, there’s barely anyone who isn’t calling out for change. But what does a post-COVID fashion industry look like? Will fashion weeks cease to exist? How will brands present their collection? Will collections be shown virtually on CGI models? Will there be any collections at all? Will the fashion industry go back to its system from the ’90s where only buyers and a handful of press will be able to attend a runway show?

For now, there are more questions than answers.

One of the things that the internet is talking about is showing collections in a virtual fashion show. Last week, a 3D digital fashion show by contemporary brand Hanifa went viral. The Congolese designer Anifa Mvuemba showed her new collection ‘Pink Label Congo’ on a virtual showcase on an Instagram live stream. “We know that some people may never experience a fashion week or Hanifa showcase, so we wanted to show up for our audience where they show up for us on a daily basis. That’s when Instagram became the obvious choice,” the designer said.

But to answer the obvious question, are virtual fashion shows the future? We don’t think so. It sure is a great temporary alternative, while the world is still quarantined because of the coronavirus. But in the long term, it’s just not going to be a successful alternative to real-life fashion shows.

Virtual fashion shows just aren’t able to create the same amount of hype and exposure a real-life fashion show can create. Also, how are you expecting fashion journalists and critics to review a collection while only being able to see it in a perfected 3D video? It’s just not the same.

Hanifa's Pink Label Congo collection

Fashion is dead, long live Fashion

In a way, this is one of the most exciting times ever to be a fashion enthusiast. We will need to rethink a lot of things, such as fashion weeks, (pre-)collections, end-of-season sales, and more. Some brands will not survive this crisis and even though it’s very unfortunate for the people working at those brands, it means there is room for new brands to emerge and make a mark. It’s time for a new generation of brands and designers to take over. Change is needed!

But don’t get too excited. The fashion industry likes to be innovative, but at the same time it is one of the most old-fashioned and stubborn industries out there. The big brands will always be there and they’re not going away anytime soon. Another thing to keep in mind is the insane amount of money that is involved in the fashion industry. Fewer collections could mean less money, and that’s not going to go well with investors and other stakeholders.

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