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Fashion Week in the New Normal

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By Kerry Curl in London

If a year ago someone had asked the question “If a pandemic struck, do you think it would mean the death of fashion?” What answer would you have given?

Would you have been able to imagine scrolling through your news feed and seeing hospital workers showing their faces covered with grooves from hours of wearing masks and then in the next square a smiling influencer holding up the latest pieces from their fast fashion haul?

2020 has been many things so far and I think it’s fair to say most of us are still figuring out how to respond to it all.

The world is still turning though, and fashion still exists. Whilst many are reconnecting, and some are reassessing, most of us are still consuming. Be it in physical garments, words, or images. It is still a moving thing. The news that Fashion Week would go digital, wasn’t a huge surprise to me. People have definitely been thinking out loud for a while about what a more digital fashion week platform might look like. The current global situation turning the entire event digital, is certainly an interesting test.

London Fashion Week has become so much more than just a select few ‘on schedule’ runway shows and exclusive events. During the official fashion week dates, more and more designers and brands have been holding their own independent catwalks, popups, panel talks and presentations or they’ve been joining other fashion show events which are held during LFW. This varied mix of happenings held during the week, means there’s been a more democratic approach as to who can attend/cover/experience fashion week for a while now.

Is digital just the next logical step in how a fashion week evolves? Could going digital and giving free access to all who want it, actually turn out to be an exciting move? The sheer volume of Instagram lives, held during the weeks of lockdown have perhaps already done a pretty good job at setting the scene for digital interactions being the new ‘normal’.

I’m curious to know how many would be attendees will still engage with the week, if it means there is no opportunity for them to be physically there. Having seen some people at fashion week attending as guests but mainly taking photos of themselves, this might be an interesting way to see who wants to be there for the actual fashion and creativity rather than for their own Instagram…

Will digital access offer designers a more personal way to reach a new audience and consumer? The 14 year old me who LOVED fashion would have been all over the opportunity to watch fashion week from my bedroom on a housing estate over 100 miles away.

Using an official fashion week hashtag gets a creatives work in the same digital space as the official shows. What if a creative goes DIY and shares a fashion presentation from their own garden, an aspiring writer responds to a show from their kitchen… I recently used my own Instagram to curate an exhibition of some SS20 work. We all have the potential to be self publishers and get involved.

As a photographer who has been documenting backstage a fashion week events for the last few years, I’ll be honest and say I’ve spent some time over the last couple of months wondering if I’ll be able to make more of this work if fashion weeks remains digital from this point on. Have I really made my last images documenting these behind the scenes moments or is it just a break? I just don’t know.

2020 has been a loud and clear demonstration that there are a lot of things out of our control. Like many of us, I had a five year plan which I was working my way through and nowhere on it was a pandemic…

This period has seen a lot of us taking time to look forward and also reflect back. So whilst we all wait to see what the ‘new new’ is, I’ve been going back through my work to put together a selection of images I’ve made during London Fashion Week, which I’m sharing below with you digitally… so I guess this is more evidence that fashion week going digital isn’t such a big reach at all?…

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