With the fashion world safely recovered from the excesses of SS19, it’s worth taking a moment to reflect over the concept of the fashion week itself. Changing consumer behaviour, the online shopping boom and the publicity provided by social media put the necessity of the runway show under question. However, the decadence of the catwalk is what gives the industry much of its glamour, and can still serve as an important creative catalyst. Is the runway central to retaining artistic integrity or is there an alternative
The time-honoured manner of showing clothes allows designers to experiment with theatricality – think the extravagant Alexander McQueen shows of the 90s. However, in an increasingly hostile environment for new businesses, the expense of runway shows can put new designers under serious economic pressure. Can fashion start-ups make a name for themselves away from the fashion week circuit? Undeniably, fashion week is the best time to attract the attention of buyers and the press, so it might not be something designers can do without.
An alternative could come in the form of the fashion presentation over the runway show. Less expensive and easier to coordinate, the presentation still gives designers space to carve out their brand concept and make an impact on buyers. Additionally, as it becomes more popular, concepts and sound effects are becoming more sophisticated. For example, Charlotte Olympia’s ‘An Accessory To Murder’ AW 17 took it to its very limit, treating attendees to a murder-mystery-style romp. However, this high-concept decadence is still not accessible to new brands and proves that the presentation could eventually grow to present the same challenges as those of the runway show.
Perhaps the way to redefine fashion week is not through changing how we showcase collections but when, and how often. The decision taken at Vetements and Burberry to combine menswear and womenswear is an approach which could very well serve to help brands reduce overhead costs.