The fashion industry will have to immediately renew its identity. The way fashion is viewed and consumed is expected to change forever. Many major institutions have already announced their plans to go fully digital. In February 2017, Burberry, Sophia Webster and Mulberry streamed their London Fashion Week A/W’17 presentations on Instagram Live, for the very first time. Runways too are going digital. Shanghai Fashion Week, by the end of its 7-day digital debut in March, recorded over 11 million viewers, according to a report on Alizila, Alibaba Group’s news portal.
London Fashion Week 2020 scheduled in June will be entirely digital. Its podcasts, videos and other interactive information will be accessible to all on LFW’s official website. Milan Fashion Week, which generally takes place in June, announced similar plans of going digital for their July 2020 edition.
Instagram’s business statistics reveal that 95 million posts are uploaded every day, and 56 per cent of the audience use the app to stay up to date with luxury brands’ newest collections. Converting the current crisis into an opportunity would be crucial for the benefit of the consumers, environment and a brand’s sustainability.
Sustainable brands will win the day
Couturier Tarun Tahiliani says, “I strongly believe that the process of reinvention begins from stillness, and we have been given this opportunity to hit pause and realign ourselves.” Quality over quantity would be the best approach. People will also be more mindful of the planet, which will impact their buying practices, and labels would turn to sustainable ways of designing and manufacturing, to ensure the longevity of their apparels. Fast fashion may go out of fashion.
The season-based collections that fashion houses churn out multiple times a year have also been a concern, even before COVID-19 hit the world. Sunil Sethi, Chairman of FDCI believes that although timeless garments that last longer are the need of the hour, it is not practical for a buyer to pack jackets and trench coats for his/her resort vacation. “Fabrics, silhouettes and layering are completely different for each season, be it Fall/Winter or Spring/Summer. So, instead of focusing on making outfits for just one season, designers should make fewer items every season, and reduce their stock keeping units (SKUs).”
Designers are in full support of digitalizing their work processes as well. Tahiliani says, “We are collectively working on how to offer different experiences through our website and social media channels.”
While e-commerce and virtual platforms are crucial in today’s time, it will be difficult to recreate the magic of experiencing fashion in person on these channels. All the brands are expected to take the same route, hence, it will be difficult to engage viewers without causing fatigue. The ones that think out of the box will be the ones who benefit.