This is usually the time of the year during which fashion metropolises are bustling with influencers, photographers, journalists and fashion enthusiasts – all coming to see the latest summer trends by the world’s leading designers. Impressive and original runway shows are the seasonal highlight of the global fashion industry, and always attract great attention from the media. Since our private and professional lives have been subject to digitalisation for years, the need for the industry to adapt and meet the pulse of time has become inevitable. The corona crisis brings to light what still needs to be done, yet proves how adaptable the industry can be.
Fashion had already been shifting from being an exclusive, elitist luxury good to become an engaging art form that brings people together before lockdown started. Thanks to digitalisation, all sorts of opportunities for participation form today’s fashion world. Social media platforms enable people from all across the globe to contribute their work and ideas. Everyone can now display their styles and creations online and potentially become an influencer or designer.
Now more than ever, with important events such as fashion weeks cancelled due to Covid-19, brands face a crisis like never before and have to come up with new ways of reaching people and showcasing their designs. The industry’s answer is innovation instead of pessimism, despite major backlashes such as disrupted supply chains and the closure of stores. Fashion shows are being adapted to a digital format in the form of livestreams and recordings, webinars and virtual showrooms. Industry professionals, the media and individual fashion enthusiasts alike can watch the top designers' latest creations presented in virtual fashion shows.
The major Haute Couture houses, for instance, came up with innovative ideas to showcase its latest designs via online platforms. Spreading Mediterranean summertime feelings, Chanel revealed its Cruise 2020/21 collection in a video via its social media channels in June. Dior even created its own fairytale to present its romantic and magical looks. Other renowned brands such as Valentino and Dolce & Gabbana presented their shows as livestreams.
We are forced to rethink the way we create, distribute, buy and look at fashion. This does not only mean shifting fashion events to virtual showcases to meet the current social distancing measures. At this point, it is unlikely that upcoming fashion shows in autumn will go ahead as planned. Perhaps we take these uncertain times as a wake-up call and finally learn that reshaping the industry in a socially responsible, innovative and sustainable way needs to be a long-term commitment.
It is unlikely that the industry will ever go back to what it was before the crisis. Not only the format of fashion shows are experiencing a digital makeover. The crisis will have a lasting effect on our shopping behaviour, and with companies expanding their online shops and services, this could become the comfortable and preferred alternative to in-person shopping.
Staying at home for such a long period of time has a lasting impact on our mentality and habits. Seasonal trends could become less important. Instead, we may feel inclined to invest in long-lasting pieces and timeless designs that can be worn all year. Our awareness for what and how we consume will most likely increase in line with our sense of responsibility. Fashion is, after all, a form of human expression and artistic exploration of our times.