Fashion Week Isn’t Dead It Just Needs A New Filter

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New Zealand Fashion Week is officially two weeks away. That means castings, fittings, seating plans and soundtracks. Designers and models alike are overworked, underfed and more stressed out than Kanye West’s PR team. But the question that everyone is desperately trying to answer is why? Why do fashion brands still bother spending upwards of $40,000 on a ten-minute show that no longer serves it’s original purpose?

Fashion Week, whether it was in Milan, Paris or New York, was originally for the fashion buyers who did the purchasing and the fashion editors who did the promoting. There was a veil of secrecy over the highly exclusive event and a sense of mystery that was only revealed when new trends and styles started appearing in editorials, advertisements and catwalk reports six months later. Fast forward to 2016 and social media has lifted that veil and made fashion week both completely transparent and immediately accessible via Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We can watch Gigi walk for Tommy Hillfiger, go backstage at Givenchy, front row at Chanel Cruise, and even see Rihanna take a selfie with Grace Coddington, all through our iPhones, and all without any VIP passes or fashion authority.

This feeling of instant gratification that we have all become so accustomed to has meant that the timing of fashion week has lost it’s value as well. What good is it to consumers if what they are seeing models wearing on the catwalk through Snapchat isn’t available for another six months? Aside from the consumers, fashion buyers are also relying less on the fashion week circuit to do their job, with a lot of them now doing their purchasing before the week has even begun via private appointments and lookbooks.

But in my opinion, the demise of this old fashion week model is nothing to be sad about, save your tears for the Net-A-Porter shopping cart you can’t afford. I simply see it as a chance to create a new type of Fashion Week that is more reflective of the fast-paced, highly-connected world we live in, and ultimately create something that is more lucrative for the fashion brands too.

Simon Lock, the former vice president of IMG Fashion & Models, has been involved with the development of several fashion weeks across the globe, including the first Australian Fashion Week, and he believes that shows need to be designed for consumers first and shift their timing to coincide with the arrival of clothes in store, “Just imagine the retail traffic if every Instagram showing a new-season item was shopable, if every Facebook and Weibo feed came with a stockist list, every Tweet had a price and every YouTube video let consumers shop the runway.”

We don’t need to mourn the loss of Fashion Week because it isn’t dead, it just needs a new filter. And while the prospect of rescheduling the entire international fashion week circuit may seem a little daunting to it’s organisers, if there is one thing the fashion industry has taught us, it is that nothing is impossible.  This year alone we saw Vetements charge $400 for yellow DHL tee-shirts and Rihanna make Puma cool again.