Is there a future for fashion weeks?
Revising my working experience at two fashion weeks and looking through the analytical reports in leading fashion business media, I state: the concept of the fashion week as the main industry event is changing dramatically.
The first obvious sign was the recent implementation of the new business model ‘see now, buy now’ by major fashion brands like Burberry, Tom Ford and Tommy Hilfiger. It signifies not only changes in the date of arrival of new collections to boutiques, but also reflects switch of the target audience. Historically, fashion weeks were established for professionals – buyers, journalists and latter stylists, who need to know about new collections and upcoming trends first to form their agenda for the new season and explain what is fashionable and trendy to consumers. However, in the last years, designers and fashion houses target the customers directly with their fashion shows.
Now any fashion show can be seen live on the website and social media, and new technologies let brands provide their customers VR experiences. Let’s remember the case of Topshop, who in faraway 2012 already used this emerging technology to give their clients chance to sit in the front row and go behind the scenes. Not even all journalists have this kind of access, but the audience of the brands were invited to share the whole process of producing and launching each new collections.
An issue that bothers me is the change in the structure of major fashion weeks. The original idea of this event was to hold all the main fashion shows in one place so all professional could easily attend them. However, this February at LFW, for instance, only 13 on-schedule shows took place at the official BFC locations, while majority of brands prefered to organize the catwalks by themselves. It means, that idea of uniting all event together does not work anymore. The only thing that was common for these shows is the week during which they were held. However, with new technologies and new strategies it also would not matter anymore: just provide the 360-degree experience for professionals and they can watch your catwalk from any place in the Globe.
Why brands still need the catwalk shows? you may ask. And the question is reasonable; presentations, look books, fashion films, pop-up events – many other cheaper opportunities for fashion promotion exist. But the production of some runway shows transforms them into great performances, where fashion is just part of dancing, singing, acrobatics and astonishing decorations. The catwalk is the scene for brands, and is the only chance for designers to show off and prove that they are successful enough to spend millions of dollars on the single show. However, it seems to me, the end of this Vanity Fair is coming.