Work-from-home has become a new norm and hopefully will continue since the timeline to ‘post-COVID-19’ remains a pyridine script. While for many other businesses, virtual connections have been a life-savior during the pandemic, the fashion industry found itself combating the restraints posed by it.
Creating a collection does not require only creativity. For impassioned fanatics, crafting a collection orbits around stimulating all senses to the core. Right from seeding the idea for a fashion season to bringing it to bloom on ramp walks, stores and streets alike, the traditional approach requires working in proximity with everyone and everything. Be it the physicality of fabric that tenders a deep inward feeling, or a gentle whoosh-crinkle sound of fabric or subtle-strong performance of the cloth on the body; every element of the sphere sparks the emotions that brings senses to life. Moreover, the craft heavily depends on human skills like pattern cutting, traditional weaving, beading, and more that have been passed on through generations creating a legacy in itself.
One would find it unimaginable for such a closely-knit working environment to survive and thrive virtually and in isolation. However, the fashion community has already taken-up the challenge to the extent of successfully migrating workplace from offices and studios to homes, evolving the business landscape, and adopting flexibility.
A significant point about this evolution is that the shift is no longer just about the relocation of physical premises or rearrangement of daily operations like allocation of tasks across teams, communication with employees, or usage of remote working tools. It also incorporates a transition of mindset. This could be termed as the next stage of evolution where the focus is on recognizing the value of getting more creative over our online space.
What’s more interesting is that this stage encourages the audience that is the consumers, to become a part of this paradigm shift. Shanghai, Russia, and Lagos Fashion Weeks have already run online, successfully seeping in an international audience. Previously, only physical presence of the audience would have made these events a hit. G-Star Raw’s “Stay-at-Home Catwalk” and apparel brand Betabrand’s “Work from Home Fashion Show”, are among others bringing in the much-needed digital revolution.
Fashion editor Carine Roitfeld’s CR Runway hosted and live-streamed its first at-home fashion show on YouTube on May 1. The at-home fashion show featured models walking at home as if on a runway.
Following the digital footsteps is London Fashion Week, which is to start a digital fashion week from 12-14 June 2020 at its website, replacing London Fashion Week Men’s – a landmark transformation. The digital-only, gender-neutral platform will also give the public and businesses access to digital showrooms, where customers can buy from the collections, and retailers will have the option of placing an order for next season.
From B2B to B2C: London Fashion Week when starts online from the 12th of next month, it will give the audience almost a similar experience as editors. The only exclusions for the audience will be press & retail portals, and digital showroom appointments. Thus, giving the audience a divergence in thought process, as what they can do for the show rather than just a buying experience.
Another example indicating this transition is coming from Betabrand customers, who are submitting videos wearing the brand’s clothing, seeking an opportunity to appear on the show.
From Story Telling to Story Living: The digital fashion events are scaling up in terms of the consumer experience. While in the previous decade, brands dedicated themselves to telling a story, this time they are looking for a more realistic option- letting the audience live the story. For instance, Fashion Unites video at YouTube showcased models wearing dresses from their wardrobes, as well as included designer cameos. Shanghai Fashion Week gave its audience choices of liking the video, buying the product, or watching the designer’s interview, making the event engagement lively.
The creative experts of the fashion community are even ready to give a thought to more advanced technologies like augmented reality or virtual reality that can make this divergence smoother and better.
While the loss of human lives and financial disruption caused by the pandemic is unrepairable, finding a silver line is always a good sign. Many are considering this crisis as the best period for transition or a wake-up call for the fashion industry. Voices for the adoption of more sustainable, economic, organic, and localized approaches are gaining strength with sincerity returning to the work. At the same time, it would be interesting to see how far the always creative & intimate fashion industry would go as it rides on the back of virtual connections.