A Verdict on Digital Fashion Week

In the past two weeks, we have witnessed an array of different and varied virtual presentations, online happenings and symposia. One cannot accuse luxury houses to lack inventiveness, and there is a genuine appreciation for the quick turnaround in moving everything online. From Loewe to Prada and Dior, among the many names, the creative solutions have been exciting to watch. This new reality begs the question, though. How much this new format is lost in the sea of branded content already created by fashion and luxury houses. Is there a need for a more orchestrated effort to make this new format stand out from the stream of information that a modern brand needs to offer to its always-connected clientele? Or shall we call it the audience?  


I am virtually sitting down with two people who have an eye on the evolution of fashion week, Emanuela Prandelli – director of the master in fashion, design, and experience at SDA Bocconi in Milan and Antonio Mancinelli, senior editor at Marie Claire Italia. 


Mrs Prandelli vision on this evolution is quite pragmatic, given a more digitalised and integrated experiences, “brands are moving faster to devise digital solutions for their creativity. Like the Dutch brand The Fabricant, that creates virtual shows for virtual-only clothes”.  Mrs Prandelli also highlights the importance of a system that possibly became too fast and how the Spring-Summer/Autumn-Winter collection system is now obsolete when a global audience is used to a constant stream of information, experiences and branded content relating to a commercial offering. The challenge is to be able to read data that these digital interactions generate and use it to create a more holistic flow of experiences and products alike. After all, the new generations of consumers are very attentive to certain aspects of consumerism that the pandemic has accentuated. 


Mr Mancinelli, in his usual elegant and witty tone, has similar views on this first digital fashion week: “There has been a lot of creativity as well as lack of it. Some brands relied on their name to switch on a camera and have models parading the new creations; some other brands opted for phygital shows- part online and part as it used to be, for a restricted audience. The unmistakable factor is that a digital revolution needs a radical view. The digital format needs to have a wow factor that is elevating brands to the next level. And so far, we have not seen that.” He continues: “The rethinking of the digital model for a fashion show is flawed because it is detached from the commercial reality of what brands today are doing. A lot has been said regarding slowing the system, yet a united vision is far from being reached. It’s not a fashion show that needs to be regenerated but the whole system”. 


Vanessa Friedman, on her New York Times column, mentioned the fact that fashion week without the excitement for the wait, the first look on the catwalk, the rituals is not the same. Perhaps the new template for a digital fashion week needs to take into consideration the fact that these events are meant for a selected view but broadcasted to a global audience. That should be the principle governing activities. Even the digital ones.

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