Fashion

Top image: UNROW AW19

The coronavirus pandemic has loomed heavily over this year’s fashion calendar, sparking a wave of high-profile cancellations. But last week, Tokyo Fashion Week organisers resisted cutting their schedule short and instead decided to live-stream their remaining shows. Now, it’s Shanghai’s turn to get creative: today marks the launch of its first-ever digital fashion week.

Shows will be live-streamed on Alibaba’s Taobao, and a handful of items will be immediately available to buy through the e-commerce giant’s online marketplace, Tmall.

It’s a formula that fashion has tried and tested in the past, in the form of the ill-fated “see now, buy now” initiatives, but Shanghai will aim to optimise the experience by using various camera angles, augmented reality effects and slick technologies to make the show experience more immersive and intriguing than ever before. In other words, self-isolation has turned fashion into a full-blown cinematic endeavour, forcing creatives across the industry to think differently about presentation.

The schedule is packed, too: from rising independent designers like Angel Chen to international brands including Diane von Furstenberg, Boy London and Converse, there’s something for every fashion fan. Better still, viewers will be able to comment live as the collections are shown, adding a sense of democratisation and community to the notoriously exclusive fashion week system.

Although Shanghai’s live-streaming schedule is more a pragmatic response to the coronavirus pandemic than anything else, it’s worth noting that fashion week has been under scrutiny recently: the Swedish Fashion Council last year cancelled Stockholm Fashion Week for sustainability reasons, and climate crisis protestors more generally have staged ‘fashion week funerals’ to highlight the social and environmental impacts of the schedule.

Whether this remains the blueprint for fashion weeks to come remains to be seen, but in the meantime, log on and scan your QR code to watch the action unfold.

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