What will New York Fashion Week look like?

With less than one month to go to New York Fashion Week, the womenswear catwalk season is about to launch with the smallest ripple on a windless sea. There will be no designers making big waves, with most avoiding in-person catwalk presentations, and some stalwart brands, like Marc Jacobs, not producing spring summer 2021 collections altogether.

The week, which was originally meant to take place from 11-16 September, has been condensed to a limited three-day event to accommodate a sparser calendar. The Council of Fashion Designers of America's (CFDA) new digital platform Runway360 will be the key source of content and activations, brand profiles and livestreams.

Whether the disruption is temporary remains to be seen. Traveling to America is still a risk and embargoed by many countries. China, the U.K. and European Schengen area are still prohibited from entry to the United States. Brands exporting to these countries will have to reach overseas buyers via other channels.

Can the CFDA’s digital hub save fashion week?

Steven Kolb, President and CEO of the CFDA hopes the new online platform will champion the talent of its members and industry. “This transformational time in fashion requires innovative business tools. Runway 360 is more than a response to social distancing and restricted travel. The digital platform will help designers faced with short term needs caused by Covid-19 and support future market weeks including live fashion shows.”

Normally at this time of year, U.S. designers would be finalizing their collections before their big unveil in September, but there has been no big ticket name confirming to hold a catwalk presentation. Compare this to Milan, where trade body Camera di Moda revealed its calendar will have 28 live shows, including presentations from Prada and Fendi.

If the designers who skip fashion week manage to have a successful selling season, the relevance of New York Fashion Week could questionable, indeed left hanging by threats. There is a vast resource of platforms to reach press and buyers and financing expensive events like a fashion show, where starting costs average approximately 100,000 dollars per show, may no longer be feasible. The CFDA would have to pull out all stops to entice brands to return in February with new incentives. Furthermore, its new digital hub would have to top the efforts of online Paris and Milan fashion weeks, whose success was largely debatable.

The upside of a pared-down fashion week is the reduction of its carbon footprint. Without the global traveling brigade – tens of thousands of editors and buyers – flying into New York, driving from show to show, carbon emissions will be at an all time low.

Image via CFDA

 

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