Top image: Backstage at JW Anderson FW20, photography Emily Malan
After weeks of debate around the future of fashion week, the British Fashion Council has stepped up to offer an answer: in June, London Fashion Week will officially launch as a digital, gender-neutral event. A press release continued that, for the next twelve months, all London Fashion Weeks will merge womenswear and menswear into one gender-neutral platform, “to allow designers greater flexibility.”
The news comes amidst an inevitable, industry-wide pivot to digital, which has seen the likes of Shanghai, Tokyo and Moscow move their fashion weeks online. As for the move to gender-neutral, it makes perfect sense: co-ed runways have grown in popularity over the last few years, so this marks the logical next step.
In an official statement, Chief Executive Caroline Rush explained: “It is essential to look at the future and the opportunity to change, collaborate and innovate. Many of our businesses have always embraced London Fashion Week as a platform for not just fashion but for its influence on society, identity and culture. 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. By creating a cultural fashion week platform, we are adapting to best fit our needs today and something to build on as a global showcase for the future.”
Rush continues by explaining that the digital platform will emphasise storytelling, and encourage London’s designers to engage with a wider, global community. A whole host of multimedia content is promised, with a focus on collaboration across culture, fashion and technology. Alongside shows, interviews, podcasts and seminars will also be available, democratising the usually exclusive nature of fashion week by opening it up entirely to the public.
“We hope that, as well as personal perspectives on this difficult time, there will be inspiration in bucketloads,” Rush concludes. “It is what British fashion is known for.”
The London Fashion Week website will officially relaunch in June.