“Digital e genderless: London Fashion Week rebirth”
London Fashion Week goes online, starting from June 2020, on a dedicated non-gender platform: the news arrives suddenly, but not completely unexpected. The Covid 19 pandemic leaves no choice but digital and, on the other hand, the no gender solution is the final – and happy – landing of a struggle around gender equality that began fifty years ago.
It is no coincidence that London anticipates everybody else, saying out loud what everyone thinks without having the courage to risk a move. Although we are aware that there is no going back, most of us are stuck – petrified – and it is hard to take the first step towards the future. We are probably try to protect ourselves, thinking that if we stand still the thunder will save us. More likely, we are just coming to terms with the situation and the process, you know, takes time.
The decision took by the British Fashion Council opens the doors to a future still to be imagined. After decades, ideas and experimentation are today in a good position and they have fertile ground where to grow. The chain must be rethought from A to Z.
First of all, sustainability. Transferring fashion week online entails a clear cut in the expenses that fashion shows and events required. On the one hand, we must think of all the losses that this event will cause, not only for the ones working in the system, but also all those satellites that have gravitated around the events for years (like hotels, catering and set designers). On the other hand, however, the brands will end up with a higher budget and will be able to decide individually where to spend the savings. We hope that many will use the surplus in an intelligent way, thinking about production. Sustainability in all the steps, from the raw materials and those who produce them, to the selling points and packaging.
Fashion with man at the center will also be a more democratic one, or at least that’s what we expect. London Fashion Week was the first to sell tickets to participate in the fashion shows. Now, with digital catwalks, we wonder if it is still necessary. Seats are unlimited on the internet, there are no red carpets nor front row. Who will have access to the fashion shows then, and according to what criteria?
The big names of the fashion system will continue to be the élite the fashion houses address, together with the most consistent buyers and the most wanted VIPs. Perhaps, however, there will also be a glimpse for a wider audience. After all, this is what the British Fashion Council wishes itself, creating a digital platform which is also a common exploration ground. The voices will cross, the topics will multiply, virgin spaces will be explored. The online platform will give space to all that is valid and the programming will be immense, between projects, exhibitions and talks. It will be a multifaceted and phantasmagorical experiment that will involve the entire cultural system.
A separate note goes for the genderless turnaround. Again we are not surprised, but we are certainly facing a milestone in the history of fashion. On the one hand, the revenge of menswear, for years poorly considered and now more than ever in the center of interest. On the other, the long feminist battle we mentioned earlier. Clothing has always been the most powerful – and the most underrated – gender indicator: a genderless fashion week can really bring everyone back to the same level. In the sense that we will all be allowed to take what we like and inspire us, without taking into account the “sex” clothes and accessories are meant to.
If it is true that the next few years will be characterized by uncertainty, it is also true that the best things often arise in precarious conditions. It makes a difference who, in the change, sees possibilities rather than problems.
Words by Giulia Greco