The future of the fashion runway

runway shows have always been an iconic aspect of the fashion industry and should we really take away the appreciation of this art form to hard fast business?

7th March 2016

With ever advancing technology and the rising influence of social media, we are left with a world in which things can be achieved or communicated with a simple click in a matter of seconds. We have become accustomed to and dependent on the notion of the instant.

The fashion industry has, since its birth, been far from something instant. It involves itself with long and nurtured processes over extended periods of time, effort and craftsmanship put into the designing of the products, and their showcasing at fashion shows. So how are these continual technological advancements affecting the fashion industry and how is the future of the runway panning out?

Burberry has made a bold move, and certainly a revolutionary one in the fashion industry, with their announcement that as of September they will continue with 2 seasonless catwalk collections per year. The items from these shows will be available to purchase online or store immediately upon the show’s finale. Burberry has laid plans to switch the seasons so that their Spring/Summer collections are shown on the runway during the months of February and March and the Autumn/Winter collections are showcased during the months of September and October. The time between getting a first look at the collection and the collection being available to buy is ultimately shortened considerably, making collections more relevant to the actual time of year – so we are not thinking of bikinis whilst sat in boots and scarves shivering at the thought of stripping off and vice versa. Burberry’s CEO, Christopher Bailey has commented on Burberry’s recent changes:

"I told the teams that we can't expect a customer to understand our timings because, I mean, it's silly, which is why we did runway made-to-order collections". He added, "You can't talk to a customer and say, 'we're really excited, we're going to stimulate you and inspire you, but you can't touch it or feel it for another six months.' In fashion we talk about 'a moment', and what feels right for the moment. And I've always battled with that because the moment is when you're showing it, but then you've got to kind of say is it the right moment five or six months down the line?”

Other designers such as Tom Ford and Matthew Williamson may soon be following in Burberry’s footsteps in regards to the organisation of their fashion shows, so who knows how many other brands will follow suit to changing the concept of the runway. With the increasing power of social media in today’s society a company can have extremely effective digital marketing campaigns which reach a mass audience almost instantly.

runway shows have always been an iconic aspect of the fashion industry and should we really take away the appreciation of this art form to hard fast business?

But we have to consider the importance of the press as much as the customers. With good press, a particular item or brand can absolutely soar and runway shows are crucial for attracting this press. Given that fashion is, and has been for years, a multi-million pound industry, can catwalk shows really be considered an unsuccessful means of brand promotion and product advertising?

If this see now - buy now concept with the runway shows is really going to work, every item of the collection shown on the runway would have to be available immediately. This could result in a reduction in quality of the pieces, given that runway items are usually of very high quality and huge amounts of time and work have been put in to get to their maximum standard.

Finally, runway shows have always been an iconic aspect of the fashion industry and should we really take away the appreciation of this art form to hard fast business? A runway show is about so much more than the clothes. Fashion is art, creativity, beautiful designs, intricate handwork and the creative direction of catwalk shows incorporates the lighting, clothes, hair, make-up, and music to create a certain mood or atmosphere. All these carefully thought out aspects contribute to a complete celebration of the designer’s vision. The movement, feel and sound simply can’t be transferred to the digital world. So should we really lose all this in the face of iPhones, tablet screens and Instagram likes?


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