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The Future of Fashion Shows during the COVID19 Emergency

BY Roberta De Martino and Arianna Cini, Students of Moodart Fashion School. 


For every fashion brand a fashion show is first of all an important communication tool. The catwalk is the moment of maximum exposure of a brand as it ensures the sales of the next few months.

For every fashion brand a fashion show is first of all an important communication tool. The catwalk is the moment of maximum exposure of a brand as it ensures the sales of the next few months.

We all know that the current situation has brought radical changes and that we also should expect something more: the traditional format of the events and therefore also fashion shows could maybe start again from next year, but in the meantime, we must find alternatives in order to not stop the industry.

How brands will act for the next fashion week? Which strategies will they adopt? Which alternatives to the traditional format will they find?

We interviewed Mattia Marazzi, casting director, image collector and event producer of Random Production in Milan, which creates events for Moschino, Ferragamo, MSGM and Max Mara just to name a few.   We asked him how brands are facing this particular and unusual situation. 

Madame Carine Roitfeld created the first virtual fashion show on YouTube. It showed some of the most iconic models of the industry, including Alessandra Ambrosio, Irina Shayk, Karlie Kloss. They were filmed behind the scene, in the backstage, and while walking in their own clothes, together with a team that included all the individuals involved in a real fashion show including stylists, sound designers and makeup artists. Do you think this would be an alternative for the physical events?

In my opinion, this specific event wasn't very useful as it didn't show anything new. Some of the most famous fashion icons were involved, but the runway could have shown a more original and better developed concept, because basically there was no collection or product to show. The goal of the event was merely to focus on the economic performance.  As for the format, if they would develop it a bit better, it could be interesting for new designers. It may involve a creative director, a stylist and a particular casting. Most of all it would be interesting to present it in an alternative way.

During the lockdown and the Covid-19 crisis, there was a statement from Mr. Giorgio Armani that was particularly famous. In a letter published in WWD he asked for a "return to authenticity".  He explained that the number of Cruise and Resort shows must decrease because they will be considered vulgar and out of touch in a dramatic moment like this. Fashion must slow down in order to start again, because lately it is following the rhythm of fast fashion. Do you think that brands could survive without these shows or are they a fundamental part of the strategy that distinguishes them from smaller brands?

I totally agree with Giorgio Armani. As an event organiser, I can confirm that we organise one show after another without pause, because any brand which decides to present something new, wants to do it with a show. In the case of the Cruise Shows organised by big brands, where there’s a particular collection to present and the concept includes an alternative location, it’s fine to create a runway. But when we can see that all brands are doing the same things just to present a collection that’s not interesting at all, that’s too much.

Look at Milan Fashion Week: in addition to the most important events, the official calendar also includes those of the smaller brands, and this no longer allows Milan to be considered as one of the most important weeks. What should be done is perhaps to divide the most important events from the minor ones, like London or Berlin are doing, and give more importance to emerging brands.

Many brands are doing experiments with virtual reality. Some companies now create only digital clothes that don’t have a physical version. For example, a company called The Fabricant sold a digital dress for 9000$. If the situation connected with Covid-19 will return in the near future, would brands be ready to invest in this type of product? Would this change the way fashion presentations are conceived?

Fashion is an art form and as such it cannot be brought only to a 2.0 level. I think brands wouldn’t be ready for a type of product that doesn’t exist and wouldn’t invest their budget on it. A luxury brand would never present a digital only dress, for the simple reason that the final buyer requires the physical product with the label of a specific brand. Surely, in this particular historical moment, many brands will try to replace a fashion show to focus on a communication strategy that can be virtual, such as augmented reality or other similar techniques. However, the conversation about digital events will certainly be interesting to introduce this new type of presentation, but they will not be a substitute for the real one.

Regarding emerging brands that have smaller power and less economic resources: do you think in this period a lot of them will disappear completely or, on the contrary, do you think it will be easier for them to get noticed since a huge part of the work will be online?

It always depends on what they will do online. It may happen that emerging brands can have a good communication strategy, so the product they will present will be easier to share. But since almost everything will be done in this way and consequently we will be forced to use social media more and more, there will be the risk that not everyone would accept this method. Anyway, for emerging players who have been in the business for two or three seasons, it will be quite difficult to maintain the position they reached before.

Camera Moda announced men's and women's pre-fall presentations will be presented in the same fashion weeks in July and it will be almost entirely digital. Are you working on some of the events that are taking place in July? What do you think will be the most difficult part?

As June and July events have been canceled, Random Production is working on digital projects in September. Customers will focus on digital presentations - which does not mean that the event will costs less than a real fashion show - with new technologies such as green screens, augmented reality, interactions through an app to create immersive experiences. As an agency, we normally work with traditional events, so for us the most difficult element is to understand this new world with which we have to deal, but most of all to make it clear for the audience that has to look at it and understand the message.

In conclusion, the actual situation could be a "springboard" for those companies that until now used a too traditional communication method: some of them will understand that they must include in their team more professionals who deal with the digital sphere. But, apart from this, traditional ways of showing a collection will always remain unique: creating a simple photo shoot in a video call is different from organising it live, as just in this last way we can have precise guidelines and instruction on how to proceed. Most of all, the emotions you feel during a real event will never be the same on a virtual screen.

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