France’s Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode hosted the first menswear online fashion week which largely corresponded to its physical calendar, with most of its stable of brands opting for digital presentations or videos.
From Dries van Noten to Rick Owens, Berluti to Loewe, online fashion week saw designers create collections despite the setback of Covid-19, and fully embrace the digital format, which so far has been received well by the industry.
How do you measure success?
Louis Vuitton’s SS21 animation was nearing 3.5 million views on YouTube at the time of writing, compared to the British Council’s digital highlights from its first gender neutral fashion week, which garnered just over 61k since 18 June. The digital reach of haute couture was even less, with some designers receiving just 2,700 views on YouTube.
Of course measuring the success of a digital presentation is not just eyeballs and reach. With factories and sample rooms closed and most of the fashion world working remotely away from their teams, putting together a collection was no mean feat. Designers and brands mustered on, despite multiple challenges and the insecurity of not knowing what the future will hold.
To that extend, this was a season to bring out familiar tropes, iterating brand DNA instead of pushing the envelope for newness. The wheel of fashion doesn’t need to be reinvented every season, and this is not a time for contrived, over-the-top ready-to-wear. Even if creativity gets bolstered and reaches new heights in times of crisis.
Jonathan Anderson at Loewe delivered perhaps the most non-digital format and tactile experience via a box designed by M/M Paris. Inside, colour and texture cards, silhouettes, a pattern, letter from the designer and look book made the show both portable and a spectacle in itself, lending to a sensory experience undeliverable via video.
Drip-feeding content felt out of place
One of the frustrations of Paris online fashion week, both menswear and haute couture, has been the slow release of digital content. The physical show calendar requires slots with ample time between presentations to allow for guests, models and backstage crew to travel from show to show. In the digital realm this time scale is a setback, one which Hermès decided to ignore, when its slot allocation didn’t correspond to when its digital creatives were available.
Netflix and streaming services have taught us that digital film-making, whether a series, film, documentary or short video, should be viewable at times convenient to the user. Having to wait three days into Paris online fashion week and set an alarm to see a 90 second snippet of a video released during dinner time, seems hardly forward thinking by France’s fashion federation. With buyers and press working from home, the delay in releasing content wasn’t conducive and the calendar could have been manifested and modernized in other ways.
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