The fashion industry needed a shake-up. A pandemic has forced it to look in the mirror

The fashion industry has successfully avoided facing many of its demons for a long time, but now external circumstances are forcing the point. Sophie Benson looks at the impact of Covid-19 on the future of fashion

Thursday 17 September 2020 17:39 BST

Fashion month is about to get into full swing; New York Fashion week began on Friday 11 September, followed by London a week later, then Paris and Milan. But the season will not be as we know it.  As the coronavirus pandemic, and local lockdown restrictions, continue to limit gatherings and present a potential health risk to visitors, the industry has had to adapt. Now September’s spring/summer 2021 shows will be presented across a range of different physical and digital formats with films, digital presentations and appointment-only showings dominating the schedule.

Any traditional runway shows going ahead are salon-style shows, limited to small audiences, doing away with the usual fashion circus that has become part and parcel of the month. Queues of chauffeured cars, international flights from one capital to the next, and crowds of influencers and editors drawing equally large numbers of street style photographers snapping outfits, a ritual which has become as much a part of the coverage as the shows themselves. But does fashion week really need all the extras?

“To take street style as an example, I think there are other ways of covering [that] fashion than posting pictures of people in samples outside fashion shows,” says Emma Hope Allwood, head of fashion for Dazed Digital, who isn’t planning on going to any physical shows this season. “I’m more excited by what teens are wearing on TikTok. I think it’s going to be interesting to see whether our audience feels that it’s a great loss not having fashion week – do they miss the shows? Or does the idea of a fashion week feel dated or alienating to them?”

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