Model posing in a pink dress

New York Fashion Week 2021 is going digital again and that made me ponder over the thought, ‘Will virtual fashion shows stand the test of time?’ and ‘Are they better than a live fashion show?’.

With the COVID-19 pandemic restricting social gatherings, a lot of events have been conducted virtually and fashion shows are no exception.

Virtual fashion shows exhibited a brilliant amalgam of fashion and technology. CGI models, 3D designing, image capturing, and body mapping helped bring the show to life.

AR in Fashion

Augmented Reality (AR) was used to create the ramp that models walked on. AR was used in fashion even before the pandemic and the virtual shows but through virtual fashion weeks, the use of AR in fashion increased exponentially. AR made it look realistic and feel interactive.
Through virtual fashion shows, designers can participate in the fashion week from every part of the world and don’t necessarily have to be present physically.

Anifa Mvuemba’s innovative way

An upcoming designer called Anifa Mvuemba debuted her brand Hanifa at the fashion show in a way like no other. She decided to do it the unconventional way. There were no models walking the ramp and no audience. She used AR to have her clothes do the modeling. They were hanging in the air (and not in a creepy, ghostly manner!). The way they walked was realistic with all the waist swaying and attitude in their walk.

Virtual fashion shows became more accessible to the public and now brands could think of catering to a different audience as well.
Safety was the top priority of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). Thus, they decided to move the fashion week to a digital platform. This helped in not increasing the number of COVID-19 cases in New York. It was also a source of entertainment.

While a lot of designers showcased their fall collection at the digital New York Fashion Week. some of the big names like Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, Tom Ford, and Michael Kors opted out of it.
Tom Ford said, “When trying to simply pay as many employees as I can and not have to make further cuts or furloughs, to spend several million dollars on a show makes no sense. I would rather pay our staff. Also, to have an audience gather right now I feel is dangerous and irresponsible and not something to encourage.”

Was it better than the live shows?

The enthusiasm of a live show was not recreated online and the audience didn’t enjoy the show to the fullest. Although the virtual shows received criticism, they have had a major impact on the fashion industry. They have also helped reduce the amount of waste produced during live fashion weeks significantly while still helping designers run their brands.

I think the pandemic has been a blessing in disguise. It has given the industry a chance to explore more ventures for exhibiting their creativity. The digital fashion shows also have a lot to improve on and certainly walk alongside live fashion weeks.

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