The London Fashion Week (LFW, in English) inaugurated with poetry this Friday a mixed edition, completely virtual and marked by the absence of major brands as a result of Brexit and covid-19. “We know that any place can be a catwalk if your mind has something to walk through it,” recites Kai-Isaiah Jamal, the model, poet and trans activist who has been commissioned to open the fully digital edition of the LFW this Friday.
The British firms, which usually gathered around 5,000 attendees in their shows, they will broadcast on the web www.londonfashionweek.co.uk their proposals for autumn-winter 2021/2022 over five days. “Many collections have been delayed due to Brexit and covid-19 restrictions, but there will be more launches on the platform in the coming months,” they assure Efe from the British Fashion Council (BFC) before a calendar with notable absences .
The established Vivienne Westwood, JW Anderson, Victoria Beckham, Christopher Kane, Paul Smith, Richard Quinn and Burberry women are some of the missing signatures from the official organization chart as a consequence of the chaos that plagues the industry. In the sector, some consider that many departures from the agenda will be definitive, as Kering did with Yves Saint Laurent in Paris and Gucci in Milan. Thus, designers with sufficient resources and media drive would be organized independently, while the calendar would remain for the newer or lesser known brands they need the umbrella of organizations.
Opportunity for the new
Before this atomized panorama, Molly Goddard, Marques Almeida, Emilia Wickstead, Roksanda, Simone Rochas, Erdem, the Chilean Lupe Gajardo or the Spanish Carlota Barrera and Sonia Carrasco will be able to shine these days without being eclipsed by the big names.
In recent editions, designers reflected on the British identity in the context of Brexit and on this occasion the BFC invites creators to explore the limits of gender, in a move towards a catwalk that champions neutrality.
The cancellation of Men’s Fashion Week last month, in a London confined by the pandemic, has reformatted the event. Now the collections for men, women and those of neutral gender are included in a single catwalk, the most experimental and avant-garde of the four international fashion capitals. Showcasing its capacity for innovation, the BFC has conceived a multilayer transmedia platform: communication, cultural exchange and sales.
The website will remain open so that brands that have not arrived on time can upload their fall / winter 2022 collections over the next few weeks; allow access to playlists and podcasts on the great challenges of fashion; and it will offer an environment of exchange between fashion, music, art, photography and performance.
It also encourages buyers to contact brands, an intention with which the BFC has teamed up with Clearpay, a payment method based on the controversial “buy now and pay later” method, initially intended for millennials, who reject the credit cards, but in which they trust to open the market of a dying sector.
An industry under pressure
London is the creative flagship of the British fashion and textile industry, which suffers a 58% drop in sales compared to pre-Brexit figures as a result of additional costs. The trade agreements imposed after the United Kingdom left the European Union they have aggravated fear and anguish for their future amid the health crisis.
The fashion industry has joined the epistolary relationship that British musicians began with the Johnson government. More than 450 fashion figures, including model Twiggy, filmmaker Nick Knight and designer Paul Smith, signed the letter sent on February 2 to openly denounce the situation they are going through.
The letter demands that the government support the sector like others, with a similar level of recognition and financial support through the same tax relief that has been offered to the film industry. They argue that they contribute more to UK GDP than the fishing, music, film, pharmaceutical and auto industries combined.
Kai-Isaiah Jamal’s verses at today’s inauguration resonate with drama and hope: “There is less wine, but more time this year. More time to immerse ourselves in our position and its strength (…) changing the world thread by thread “.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.