This year just like most global industries and major annual events, fashion week is uncertain. Designers have been halted in following the typical fashion calender after the recent global outbreak of COVID-19. As health officials and the CDC advise caution against large public gatherings, brands are being encouraged to present their collections through digital mediums. While some brands opt to produce their take on a traditional (yet at-home) show, others are opting to explore alternative digital experiences.
What was once a highly exclusive event, is now an opportunity for global attraction. While past fashion weeks have operated on an invite-only basis, this year, designers are looking to attract more inclusive audiences. Instead of a conventional fashion show, brands are choosing different digital methods for their collection debuts. Formats such as virtual showrooms, or behind the scenes experiences are now the new norm. However, since many brands have already suffered from a large loss of profit, some designers are forfeiting fashion week altogether in an attempt to preserve their resources.
Earlier this year, London Fashion Week was the first to be hosted during the beginning stages of COVID-19. As the pandemic quickly progressed, more focus seemed to be on the execution of digital presentations more than the actual clothes. The British Fashion Council acknowledged that these presentations were experimental due to the sudden circumstances, but show-goers couldn't help but wonder if this reaction is indicative of future fashion weeks to come.
Couture Week in Paris
Originally scheduled for June 23-28, fashion's French governing body, The Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode (FHCM), officially announced that couture week has been cancelled. As fashion houses reconcile their collections, brands like Armani Privé and Jean Paul Gaultier have stated they will be on hold until next January. As the FHCM keeps in mind the safety of thousands of people that are brought to Paris solely for Couture Week, not all hope is lost as a released statement assured, "The Fédération is actively working with its members on possible alternatives."
July 9-13 - Men's Fashion Week in Paris
Men's Paris Fashion week is officially declared as fully digital. Video content is said to go live on a preset schedule hosted through the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode's website. Although London and Milan fashion weeks shifted their long-established approach, it seems PFW is maintaining a stricter structure in an attempt to imitate routine. The Fédération requires press to register online for digital attendance, however the question of whether or not PFW will be open to the public still remains unanswered.
July 14-17 - Milan Fashion Week
What was originally Men's Fashion Week in Milan has now been opened up to menswear and womenswear designers. The Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (National Chamber of Italian Fashion) announced this in early June as they encouraged designers to debut their pre- and main season collections. Carlo Capasa, president of CNMI, announced that each brand will broadcast their designs in whatever format they see fit. Brands such as Prada, Etro and Bottega Veneta have all confirmed participation through digital content.
As the CNMI plans to host this event on their platform, a statement suggested that they will be "featuring photographic and video content, interviews and backstages of alternative and unique viewpoints." Rumored partnerships with other platforms such as Youtube and Amazon Prime are said to enable brands to also stream their digital content publicly.
September 11-16 - New York Fashion Week
As of now, New York Fashion Week remains a mystery. The CFDA is expected to make an announcement imminently about what format the shows will take. In a recent statement released, the council said it "remains respectful of everyone’s priorities during this time. First and foremost protecting the health and well-being of our teams and ourselves." It is rumored that if in-person presentations take place, the scheduled week may be shorter than what we've been used to. This would be precautionary as travel is still unadvisable.
September 18-22 London Fashion Week
Last Monday Burberry confirmed they will present their Spring/Summer 2021 Collection this coming September through a traditional runway presentation in London. The show is said to occur in a large, open-air location on September 17th to execute social distancing procedures. The in-person crowd will watch from afar and the show will also be streamed for those unable to travel. As for now, Burberry is the only brand confirmed for Spring/Summer shows as other designers are swaying from the traditional fashion week calendar.
September 28 -October 6 - Paris Fashion Week
As of now, the Fédération confirms that Paris Fashion Week will be held. Whether this remains in a digital format, or be hosted in-person, is also yet to be determined. As we wait for more definitive plans to be announced we can only hope that it will be safer for designers to conventionally debut their Fall/Winter 2021 collections come this September.
As more information becomes available, we will periodically update this article.