International Fashion Weeks ready to face Covid-19 challenge

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Press Association
This is normally the time of year we’d be preparing for fashion month: predicting what trends will rule the catwalks at New York, London, Milan and Paris, and wondering who will be gracing the front row.

While we’re still looking forward to fashion month, things are decidedly different this season. Fashion has seen something of a reckoning over the Covid-19 crisis – there’s been a dip in profits, causing some brands to shut their doors, and those still manufacturing clothes have run into issues along the supply chain.

The pandemic has also caused people to reevaluate the relentless calendar of fashion shows and the environmental impact of the industry. Major labels like Gucci have announced they will no longer be showing on the traditional calendar and will “build a new path, away from the deadlines that the industry consolidated and, above all, away from an excessive performativity that today really has no raison d’être”, creative director Alessandro Michele writes on Instagram.


These moves have caused some people to ask the question: is this the beginning of the end of fashion week?

But though things might be changing, fashion month is still very much going ahead this season – with a new look.

Copenhagen has already put on its spring/summer 2021 fashion week, meaning it’s nearly time for the big four of New York, London, Milan and Paris to take centre stage. The word of the month seems to be ‘phygital’, as every city is planning a mix of digital and physical events. So what can we expect from fashion month under this new normal?

New York

No one was sure if New York Fashion Week (NYFW) would go ahead after the city was hit hard by the pandemic. However, the show will go on, and the official schedule was released at the end of last month.

While there’s definitely been a drop in designers – Vogue notes only 60 labels are on the schedule compared to February’s 177 – there are some big names on there.

Jason Wu will be putting on a show, and Anna Sui, Badgley Mischka, Eckhaus Latta and Tom Ford are all doing a ‘digital activation’. The NYFW digital platform will let you experience these events from the comfort of your own home.


However, there are plenty of notable absences this season. Michael Kors is going off-schedule and has announced he’ll be presenting his collection in October, and labels like Proenza Schouler, Prabal Gurung, Marc Jacobs and Brandon Maxwell are also missing.

NYFW runs between September 13-17.


Unlike the other fashion weeks in the big four, London has already had something of a trial run. LFW is now gender neutral, and it took over what was originally menswear fashion week in June. The event was entirely digital, but on a small scale with few major labels involved.

This September, LFW will once again be gender neutral, and will incorporate digital and physical events onto the schedule. There are over 80 designers involved, with Burberry kicking off proceedings with a livestream of its new collection. Richard Quinn, Christopher Kane, JW Anderson and Emilia Wickstead will all be streaming short films on the LFW platform for their collections, with Halpern, Preen and Simone Rocha putting on physical showings by appointment only. There will also be catwalk shows and salon presentations from the likes of Victoria Beckham and Bora Aksu – all adhering to social distancing guidelines.

LFW runs between September 17-22.


Like London, Milan is also combining its menswear and womenswear shows into one fashion week. This heralds in a new era of more gender neutral fashion, one the industry has been working towards for a while.

The official schedule includes physical shows from Dolce & Gabbana, Versace and Salvatore Ferragamo, as well as digital versions from Armani and Missoni. Gucci is the biggest name missing from the calendar, along with Bottega Veneta and Moschino. Unlike New York and London, there seems to be more big names putting on physical catwalk shows in Milan.

One of the biggest shocks of the season is Valentino: the Italian brand normally shows in Paris, but this season will be moving closer to home and showing in Milan.

MFW runs between September 22-28.


Even though the schedules have been released, it’s important to note the situation is still precarious – particularly in France, where coronavirus cases are on the rise again.

Like the other cities, there will be a mix of digital and physical shows – although the schedule doesn’t specify what label will do what type of show. What we do know is who will be showing – Dior, Chloe, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Miu Miu and more are on the calendar, with Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen absent.

PFW runs between September 28 to October 6.

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