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Can digital really replace the traditional fashion week?

On February 2020, with the initiative “China, we are with you”, CNMI enabled more than 25 million people to virtually attend the “Fall/Winter 2021 Milan Women’s Fashion Week”, launching the first digital version of the popular fashion week. Believe it or not, it was not unpredictable the announcement of the “Spring/Summer 2021, men’s and women’s pre-collections” with the same digital concept.

“Our development of a Digital Fashion Week is a concrete response to the situation we are facing”commented Carlo Capasa, the president of CNMI.“Our objective is both to support the restart of the entire fashion industry and to reach out to the media, buyers and the entire fashion community with a huge array of content designed for all the players in the system. For us, in this initiative, it’s an important result to be bringing together for the first time also a section dedicated exclusively to supporting showrooms and buyers.”

Official design of the Milan Digital Fashion Week

At the moment, the fashion week cannot exist as before due to social-distancing rules, but beyond that, what can we expect for the post-pandemic future? What was positive during the digital fashion week?

The virtual event took place between July 14th and 17th introducing a digital platform with photographic and video content, interviews, and creative moments of the backstage; including the alternative and unique viewpoints organised in calendar slots with the time and day of the brands’ show. There were also a giveaway sequence of enthralling webinars with the latest trend themes, live streaming with fashion VIPs, and moments of pure entertainment and performances.

Prada – The collection suggests the approach: different views, for a collection that proposes a myriad interpretations of the Prada man and woman.

To further highlight, the ‘virtual’ fashion week has made the event easily accessible to the whole world – in which many contents were immediately available online- increasing engagement and quickly responding to the sharing contents. However, the pain points were still on the way: the platform, for example, was not accessible and usable considering all kind of disabilities and inclusion, and of course, the online user experience was not as real and magical as attending the in-person one.

Several brands have announced the intention to leave behind the traditional fashion week and implement virtual and streaming presentations.

Changing room during a traditional Fashion Week

The concern may arise if we consider that an event born to share positivity in a particular moment will turn into a trend by changing how fashion is understood. As you can imagine, it might become a much bigger issue than just a temporary solution to lockdown restrictions. Fashion had been already on the brink of monumental changes before. As consequence of this pandemic, several big brands such as Saint Laurent, Dior, Burberry and Gucci have announced the possibility of more permanent intentions to leave behind the traditional seasonal calendar and only implement the virtual side with streaming presentations.

I cannot imagine a world where the fashion week is merely online. A world without thrilling travels, without waiting in the press room or any face-to-face interviews.

Let’s see… And fingers crossed.