It’s clear that the fashion industry has been quick to react to the COVID-19 outbreak at every step in the timeline—first with aiding in the production of protective gear and setting up funds to now, rethinking the traditional fashion week format. As ‘digital’ has become a prefix to most terms in modern culture, fashion’s adaptive qualities aren’t behind.
Shanghai went all-virtual with their fashion week live-streamed on multiple platforms, London and Paris have been slotted for a digital makeover, followed by Milano Digital Fashion Week in July. “I will abandon the worn-out ritual of seasonalities and shows to regain a new cadence, closer to my expressive call. We will meet just twice a year, to share the chapters of a new story”, wrote Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele.
What to expect from India’s first-ever digital fashion week
Closer home, the Fashion Design Council of India broke the news of India’s first digital fashion week with their Instagram community. “The reset button has been pressed,” read the teaser. “Since no on ground fashion week is possible right now, we have no other avenue but to go digital. The purpose is solely for the business for the designers, and business can only take place if they showcase new collections,” says Sunil Sethi, chairman FDCI. While safeguarding public health during this crisis is paramount, the shows will take place without any live audience. “If we can convey the message of a 40-minute-plus show in under 20 minutes, there is no need for large-scale shows. However, larger than life sets can be replicated in a virtual space,” he adds.
In a “digital reality” environment, the organisation plans to create digital set design, photoshoots and previews, all hosted in an enclosed location, which is yet to be declared. “We have to support the talent that has been with us since the very beginning,” he adds on collaborating with photographers, stylists, hair and makeup artists and crew involved in a novel format. Skipping on traditional model auditions and fittings, the faces will be chosen from the select pool who will wear multiple looks while shooting, as opposed to a live runway. “We are also looking at digitisation of our prêt stockroom in the transformation,” Sethi adds, including a possible collaboration with an e-commerce platform. However, he affirms that the current season calendar—couture week in end July to August and spring/summer ready-to-wear in October—will remain unchanged.
“The key word for fashion weeks in the coming years will be “phygital” as technology will play a key role in merging both the physical and digital worlds creating a fashion event that is more aware of the world we live in and is able to better adapt to an ever-evolving normal,” says Jaspreet Chandok, head of lifestyle businesses, IMG Reliance. While Lakmé Fashion Week already runs in an in-season format, they are observing design houses moving to a more season-fluid model, with lesser and sharper showcases. “We are planning to have an online model audition for LFW and will look at some of our pre-events also becoming digital,” adds Chandok. He also tells us that IMG Reliance is putting in efforts to create an interface that will enable a virtual environment that connects designers to both retail stores and directly to the consumer.
“This is here for good,” concludes Sethi. Until then, we are waiting in anticipation of a creativity-led and environmentally-sound format of fashion in India. Perhaps, a hybrid model of reality and digital will pave the way in that direction.