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Can online fashion weeks save the industry?

mercedes benz fashion week russia
ÓNOMA / Russian Fashion Council

Lockdown has become a period of profound adaptation for all industries, and fashion is no exception. Monte-Carlo Fashion Week has moved online, this weekend seeing their inaugural digital event “A conversation with…” go live on Instagram. Looking at other online fashion weeks which have taken place this year, we decided to see how Monaco’s favourite style event of the year shapes up.

Important events in the fashion industry went digital earlier this year, as governments worldwide imposed lockdown measures. This weekend, the Principality’s event Monte-Carlo Fashion Week will follow suit by showcasing a series of webinars and talks held on their Instagram account. An innovative solution – but how have other fashion moguls organised their events to keep attendees safe, while also giving brands a platform to expand their business?


Monte-Carlo Fashion Week 2020: A Conversation with…

Monte-Carlo Fashion Week fashion week has changed its format, from the usual 45 runway appearances to a series of essential discussions on issues facing the fashion industry. This week, the Chambre monégasque de la mode (CMM) revealed its impressive lineup of speakers as well as the various sustainable brands showcasing their work. Whereas designers will not be able to send their new line down the catwalk, the event “A conversation with…” will allow designers and influential names in the industry to focus on sustainability more than ever.

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The select lineup of speakers will include key players from across the fashion industry, as well as names closer to the Principality. Pauline Ducruet, daughter of Princess Stéphanie of Monaco, will inaugurate the weekend in an interview conducted by Sara Maino, the Deputy-Editor of Italian Vogue. Various panellists, including Tommy Hilfiger and Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger, will discuss current trends and styles, exploring the present and future state of the industry. Alberta Ferretti, one of the biggest designers to walk Monte-Carlo Fashion Week, will also appear on their Instagram live on Friday.

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“From sustainability to creative ways of optimising production, to the consequences of the pandemic,” explained the founder of the event and President of the CMM, Federica Nardoni Spinetta. “Fashion doesn’t stop, as it currently faces a new chapter of its future in an interactive way.”

Sustainable brands can participate by displaying their vision and work in a short video which will be uploaded to the fashion week’s social media accounts. It will allow them to showcase their brand to a broad audience, thus allowing them to expand their reach in a time when many businesses are forced to shrink. Brands include Monaco local Banano Moon, as well as international names such as Laotong from Colombia.

On Monday night, the final night of the event, the organisers usually host the awards evening, brands and designers receiving accolades for their dedication to the fashion industry. They have adapted this particular event for the digital format, with an award that will go to the brand who has best distinguished itself in a video entry they have submitted to the CMM. The winner will have the opportunity to form a partnership with the YouTube account Fashion Channel, whose audience of 1.2 million subscribers can get to know the brand.

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Fashion weeks beyond Monaco

Digital Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia

Unlike in Monaco, the fashion week in Moscow chose to showcase various “socially distanced” catwalks earlier this year. While the city was in lockdown, some 32 designers displayed their shows via pre-recorded videos. The presentations appeared on TikTok and Facebook, as well as on Aizel and Megogo, two of Russia’s most popular online retailers.

mercedes benz fashion week russia phone

Mercedes Benz Fashion Week

According to event organisers, 830,000 people watched the shows across the two-day event. On TikTok, the hashtag #CтильНаДому (#styleathome) appeared and was viewed 39.9 million times. Famous designers such as Valeria SAAD and House of Leo showcased their Autumn/Winter 2020 collection, allowing names in Russia’s fashion industry to expand their reach on said digital platforms.

Initially, organisers had hoped to live stream the shows, but given its labour-intensive process, they opted for the video solution to avoid breaking Moscow’s social distancing measures.

Shanghai “Cloud” Fashion Week China

Shanghai was able to incorporate digital runways with e-commerce in its online edition. Almost two months into lockdown, organisers of the Shanghai Fashion Week were going to postpone the event but instead opted to digitalise it after calls from the brands and businesses involved to allow them an opportunity to sell their lines. They joined forces with Tmall Marketplace, a platform owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, and the event broadcast on WeChat, the popular Chinese messaging app is the most popular platform in China.

shanghai fashion week online cloud fashion


The event seemed hugely successful in terms of battling some of the severe economic consequences the fashion industry is facing. From 24th to 30th March, designers and brands showcased their Autumn/Winter 2020 collections, with viewers having the opportunity to buy items as they saw them. Each show was boosted through the use of a green screen and visual effects, compensating for the atmosphere which is often lost online.

Whereas Paris and Milan Fashion Weeks had experimented with live streaming to make the shows accessible for Asian editors and buyers who were unable to travel due to restrictions, this was the first event to go fully virtual.

London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week is another event which is yet to take place, but the British Fashion Council has been quick to come up with a solution similar to that of Monte-Carlo. Caroline Rush, the President of the British Fashion Council, proposed uniting the current health and economic context with a general slowing of the industry.

It is essential to look at the future and the opportunity to change, collaborate and innovate. The current pandemic is leading us all to reflect more poignantly on the society we live in and how we want to live our lives and build businesses when we get through this. The other side of this crisis, we hope will be about sustainability, creativity and product that you value, respect, cherish.

Given the current environmental challenges the earth is facing, the online platform will allow participants to reevaluate how they consume fashion, especially online. The week will feature a series of interviews, podcasts, designer diaries, webinars and digital showrooms, aiming to give brands the chance to generate sales directly from the event, but also secure future orders from buyers looking for next season’s products.

Rather than opting for a short, punchy event like in Monte-Carlo, Moscow and Shanghai, the platform will make the content produced over the week available for 12 months.

Losses expected by the industry

It raises the questions, why are fashion weeks reorganising? What do they provide, except a 15-minute foray into the mind of a fashion genius?

Brands worldwide look to fashion weeks for inspiration, latest trend ideas emerging from these short runway events. The luxury fashion world stimulates the more widely-consumed highstreet fashion and fast fashion brands, which represent a significant revenue stream for economies worldwide. In France alone, the industry represents an annual turnover of €150 billion and 1 million jobs.

The Retail Times asserts that France has currently experienced a drop in consumer demand of 16% in March 2020. This is comparatively quite positive. The average decrease in demand is 30% worldwide, up to an eye-watering 49% drop in Italy. With 70% of all fashion purchases made offline, the real figure will only be apparent after economists gain a better understanding of the broader consequences caused by Covid-19.


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After Covid-19, the consumer economy in China has begun to spin in reverse. Gen-Z and Millennial shoppers, hit by job losses, furloughs and salary cuts, are no longer buying — they are selling. Instead of emerging from the coronavirus epidemic and returning to the shopping habits that helped drive the world’s second-largest economy, many young people are offloading possessions and embracing a new-found ethic for hard times: less is more. ⁠ ⁠ There is no guarantee that the nascent minimalist trend will continue once the coronavirus crisis is fully over, but if it does, it could seriously damage China’s consumer sector and hurt thousands of businesses from big retailers to street-corner restaurants, gyms and beauty salons. [Link in bio] 🖋️: @reuters 📷: @gettyimages

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According to the Business of Fashion’s recent report, the industry as a whole is facing roughly a 30% decrease in revenue. They estimate that two in five US and European consumers have reduced their online purchases during lockdown, and that half will reduce shopping habits when the high street opens its doors again. This amounts to approximately $600 billion worth of decline in global revenue.

By looking at these statistics it is clear that revolutionising the way industry players organise fashion weeks may indeed be vital to the survival of countless brands worldwide. Given the ever-evolving state of the Covid-19 situation, businesses will have to wait to see what their future holds.