After last week’s little moan about the unsuitability of the catwalk format for some brands’ collections, with London Fashion Week now kicking off it seems only apt to consider the wider relevance of a schedule full of shows in the digital age.
Back when the concept of displaying clothes on models was in its infancy, shows were attended by a select few customers in cosy surroundings; roughly a century later, the scale of production, amount of attendees, level of attention and cost surrounding them is bigger than ever. But isn’t it a bit of a waste of time, effort and money?
It can cost a label anything from £100,000 to put on a catwalk but can run into the millions for the all-singing, all dancing mega-shows in Paris. What’s more, it’s an epic palaver to get your show scheduled, find a venue and get it kitted out, get all the attendees and models to turn up on time, get the clothes made in time, fitted and prepped, successfully negotiate the minefield of seating plans and stroppy people (hello, Zac Posen’s PR!) and ensure everyone leaves in an orderly fashion. So why bother when it’d be far simpler to take nicely produced photos that you can send out to be posted online, instantly upping your audience from a couple of hundred to millions?
Well, here’s why - fashion still needs its moment in the sun. Fashion weeks are part of our industry’s DNA, vital points when all eyes are on us. They remind people we’re here and give brands and consumers alike something to aspire to. Basically it keeps us glossy and desirable, kind of like your pet Labrador, and is vital marketing for our industry that would disappear if fashion weeks got binned in favour of digital assets. It’s not an either/or decision, as brands like Burberry have shown - livestreaming, instant ordering, moody videos, pin-sharp stills and catwalk shows are all key to getting the products out there.