Paris, France – Cancellation of live events well in advance – especially those counting on an international crowd – has been the norm since coronavirus and lockdowns to contain it crossed the world this spring, with events removed or postponed as far as the Golden Globes next January.
But big hitters from the European luxury goods industry have reversed this trend in recent days, with several houses pledging to host live fashion shows in September.
Brand statements such as Christian Dior, Burberry and Fendi suggest that brands want to move away from online events as quickly as possible, although digital engagement with end consumers will remain a key part of their strategy. Chanel, too, threw its weight behind the staging of physical shows as soon as possible.
Brands seem convinced that physical fashion shows are powerful enough tools to deserve to be staged despite unprecedented levels of uncertainty as to what the fashion shows might look like or who could attend, as restrictions on health and travel are on the move.
“The Federation of haute couture and Fashion confirms the holding of the Womenswear Paris Fashion Week “, reads a press release published by the chamber which organizes Paris Fashion Week on Wednesday morning. “It will take place from Monday September 28 to Tuesday October 6 and will comply with the recommendations of the public authorities for its implementation.”
“Even if the current situation has led to a lot of innovation in online projects, nothing can replace the physical event”, Pascal Morand, the executive president of the FHCM said in an interview with BoF, adding that although the brands quickly canceled their physical events for men’s fashion and couture, the “majority” of Parisian houses want to organize at least some sort of physical event in September.
Widespread disgust for uncertainty, pressure on marketing budgets and the desire of some brands and creators to reconsider their business practices and reexamine what some have called a “broken” fashion system had driven homes, including Gucci and Saint Laurent to reassess their participation in fashion month this fall.
Traditional fashion weeks bring together participants from around the world, including brands, models, journalists, influencers and top guests. But many major European brands seem to have decided that a reduced, more local fashion week is always better than no fashion week at all, and proceed on the assumption that models and publishers from Europe and from the United Kingdom will be able to attend, while guests from the United States and Asia are unlikely to.
This fashion week seems more and more likely to advance in one form or another in key markets like Paris is “great news for the sector”, according to Alexander of Betak, a producer who stages shows for clients like Dior, Saint Laurent and Jacquemus. His agency Bureau Betak is one of many companies, including modeling and casting agencies, photo agencies and others, who depend on fashion week for their livelihood.
According to Betak, brands will use live streaming and other digital tools even more, integrating them into in-person events. The combination of deep cuts in marketing budgets and additional expenses related to the implementation of various health precautions, some brands are likely to experiment with formats different from those of the traditional parade, but Betak hopes that these will mainly be live events with elements in person.
“It’s great to experiment, now more than ever before when people are ready for a change,” said Betak. “But online only has failed to create the same excitement as far as a live show. It cannot compete with adrenaline, momentum.” Even a small audience can be powerful in attracting people’s attention when you are broadcasting online, he added. “It’s very contradictory, but the excitement comes from watching something you weren’t invited to.”
Stay tuned for BoF updates to this developing story.
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