How fashion adapts
Alexander Fury on the fashion industry and its pandemic pivot
By Alexander Fury Top images: Armani's 2020 fall show live-streamed in February Wednesday 8 April, 2020 Long read
And perhaps it’s about time. While other industries have transformed over the past decade – TV switching to streaming services, physical music to ephemeral mp3, even light bulbs now come with a built-in, app-controlled dimmer function – fashion has steadfastly stuck to old-fashioned ways of showing. That is, in the flesh, on living bodies, as live events. There’s a beauty to those, the thrill of a communal or collective experience that means that neither TV (or Netflix) nor record (or mp3) killed off the theatre or the concert. Today, however, fashion has been jolted and is exploring innovative ways of getting its message across to show it is very much alive.
The format of fashion shows had begun to change even before we were out of fashion month and into lockdown: Giorgio Armani opted to present his AW20 collection to an empty auditorium, streamed live to a global audience. It’s something designers have done before – Hussein Chalayan, Gareth Pugh and Viktor & Rolf have all chosen to show via film, but the avant-garde is very different to a brand like Armani, with an annual turnover in excess of €2b. Armani’s measures were also not out of choice, but an early indicator of new health concerns. Yet, it was a step that now feels like the future.
Chris Evans on the cover of Esquire; Billie Eilish on the cover of Dazed
'Necessity is the mother of invention. What we are maybe seeing is the industry pivoting and evolving – shifting with our new now and what’s yet to come'
Bottega Veneta campaigns
'What seems to be emerging, under duress but with genuine enthusiasm, is a new way of expressing creativity'
Everyone knows you can pick up clothes online. What seems to be emerging, under duress but with genuine enthusiasm, is a new way of expressing creativity, of charting the creative process, of opening up fashion while planes are grounded and doors are closed. That could be a positive shift for the whole industry: the next way we’ll be looking at fashion in the future.
Alexander Fury is Fashion Features Director at AnOther magazine and Men’s Critic at the Financial Times
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