June, 18 2020 – By Daisy Wallis
For the first time in its history, last weekend saw London Fashion Week go completely digital, gender-neutral and accessible to all. The traditional catwalk shows were replaced with computer-generated immersive experiences and intriguing conversations between leading fashion figures encouraging sustainable change and collaboration in the industry.
Whilst many designers were unable to create the usual menswear collections as a result of the pandemic, the schedule was full of unique creative concepts. Much like innovations seen at digital fashion weeks earlier in the year, the schedule took on a form unlike any London Fashion Week before.
The London Fashion Week website was reborn into a completely interactive and accessible platform – designed for the curious fashionista. The platform housed a massive range of content, ranging from podcasts to suggested articles and even a dedicated section promoting ‘Positive Fashion’ designers and brands.
Positive Fashion and Sustainability
In fact, positive fashion and sustainability became a key talking point across the events. As well as showcasing a range of designers, live discussions and documentary films addressed the desperate need for change across the industry.
The ‘Her Dreams Are Bigger’ film presented by designer Osman Yousefzada perfectly encapsulated this desire for change. Interviewing women working in the garment industry in Bangladesh, the women shared their ideas of what a western woman’s life looks like based on the clothes they make.
Highlighting a devastating disparity between the western woman and these garment workers, the message from the film was clear. There are clear inequalities in the industry that are in desperate need of change.
Community and Collaboration
The schedule also had an undeniable focus on community. Viewers were encouraged to comment on and share their favourite presentations and participate in discussions on important issues such as sustainability in the industry.
This emphasis on community culminated in the incredible LFW Catwalk Challenge launched in collaboration with retailer John Lewis. The challenge saw viewers creating their own catwalk moments to be included in the first catwalk video made and starring the public. The video encapsulated the purpose of the digital platform – to bring together the community of fashion lovers and designers together in these uncertain times.
The themes of change and community were seen across the weekend and were embraced by both well established and new, upcoming brands and designers. We wanted to share with you some of our favourite positive fashion brands that each created truly unique and inspiring content for London Fashion Week.
Through an immersive 3D virtual reality experience, Ahluwalia quite literally brought her design influences to life. Jalebi, the title of her latest book, is described by the designer as “a love letter to multiculturalism and all of the nuances that surround it.”
The photography book is deeply rooted in family and a sense of community. Photographs and videos of Southall, Britain’s first Punjabi community, combined with images of Priya Ahluwalia’s own family lined the walls of the virtual room. At a click of a button, the imagery came to life – London Fashion Week viewers were able to take a journey to Southall through their computer and mobile screens.
Through the unique experience, Jalebi encapsulates the beauty of the diversity present in Britain. The presentation, bringing together elements of photography, art, and documentary, felt incredibly personal. Unlike traditional catwalks and presentations, Jalebi took viewers on a journey through the eyes of the designer.
Another brand that offered a personal look into their design processes was Marques’Almeida. In a short documentary film, the designers take the viewer on the journey of their latest brand under the M’A family – reM’Ade.
Interwoven between scenes of the design processes are incredibly personal moments between the designers and their two children. Talking about their latest venture, the designers explain that becoming parents has inspired a critical look at how the brand produces fashion.
It is clear that this latest collection from the designers, and the commitment to more collections like this, is all for ensuring a better world for their children’s future; A beautiful message for an incredible collection.
In an Instagram Live discussion with GQ editor-in-chief, Dylan Jones, Christopher Raeburn also introduced a new sustainable collection. RӔFOUND is a new contemporary and accessible collection made entirely from unworn military apparel. But, as Christopher Raeburn described in the Instagram live, it is much more than this, it is also a provocation. The collection is part of a long-time vision for the brand to create less and less.
Teatum Jones wowed with a conversational film for their latest collection, Re-Love Part One. The film showcased the new collection through their diverse community by asking a variety of questions, from how they style their pieces, life post lockdown and even what the future of fashion should be.
The film not only inclusively presented their latest collection but generated a necessary conversation about the state of sustainability and diversity in the fashion industry.
The collection features some of the best prints and textiles from their archives and reignites life back into them through new styles. Much like the other Positive Fashion designers on show, Re-Love Part One is an encouraging example of how incredible fashion doesn’t have to be created out of something new.
One of the few designers to present a full collection, ‘Sober’ from mother and son duo, Natasha Zinko and DUOltd explores a nostalgia for retro American culture. The collection includes poppy-print dresses, exaggerated flared tailoring and t-shirts emblazoned with the American flag.
The film offered a contrast to the images seen in recent weeks in the US and made the viewer feel as if they had been taken back in time from the comfort of their homes.
The Late Night-Conscious Campaign is one incredible initiative working to support luxury brands to produce sustainably.
The LN-CC collaborated with designer Martine Rose to highlight the launch of their first campaign, WASTE. The unisex collection, comprising of eight pieces, is made entirely from deadstock and offcuts from Rose’s design studio. Patchwork again was a focal design feature, with each piece in the collection featuring relaxed fits and contrasting details.
Much like the other positive fashion designers, the LN-CC brought their collection to life through film.
The film featured Kai-Isaiah Jamal, poet and activist, performing an incredible poem evoking the same challenge to the wasteful nature of the industry as the campaign.
The Future of the Digital Format
The digital fashion week format is one that will undoubtedly see a lot of change and improvement over the next year. In this instance, the platform created by the BFC allowed for greater accessibility not just to the consumers but to smaller and upcoming brands and designers. In these uncertain times, the format allowed for designers to continue to tell their stories even when they had not been able to put a collection together.
London Fashion Week’s inclusion of discussions between designers, innovators and the community also added an educational element to the schedule. Conversations about sustainability and the change needed in the industry were the topics on people’s minds.
Osman Yousefzada’s film, much like other documentaries of its kind, provided a wakeup call to viewers, reminding each and every one of us that we have a social and environmental responsibility to do better. To inspire change.
Whilst there is no doubt that this fashion week did not have the same feeling as past events, as viewers tuned in through computer screens. This London Fashion Week represented something new and exciting. It is clear that we are entering a new era of the industry that is inspired by sustainability and inclusivity.