The conversation about the fashion calendar and whether seasonal Fashion Week events around the world are sustainable had already been on-going even before the pandemic. On a Zoom interview with one of the pioneers of conscious fashion, Maria Cornejo, she opined that “Consumers were getting confused by the fashion calendar. You had fall pieces in the middle of summer. There’s just too many things going on.”
Subsequently, many were beginning to wonder if having editors, influencers, buyers, and fashion stake holders, fly across oceans non stop to catch Fashion Week in various capitals was an absolute necessity. In the chaos that was BC (Before Covid), there was never enough time to let new collections sit, simmer and marinate. We whizzed through seasons, consuming collections at full speed only to dump all this excess in the sale bin. Lest we forget, big brands were spending top dollar to fly people around the globe, only to scrimp on production and more responsible sourcing of raw materials.
We’ve known about this reality for years now, but it was only when the pandemic hit that the fashion industry decided it was time to take drastic measures. With travel restrictions and mandates prohibiting mass gatherings, fashion weeks around the globe were canceled. Save for a few labels that trimmed down on the guest list, the only other option to keep this beloved fashion traditional alive was to go digital.
During the quarantine period, FNL Network Founder and CEO Rocco Leo Gaglioti began to wonder about the fashion industry and its survival. He pondered: “How will designers be able to showcase their collection this fashion week season?” Rocco then brainstormed with people in his team and came up with the idea to launch the world’s first International Digital Fashion Week (IDFW) through the FNL Network.
Everyone Is Invited
It took them four weeks to prepare for a worldwide digital launch. On September 5, 2020, IDFW went live on FNL Network, and over 33 million viewers tuned in. Unlike the traditional fashion week presentations where the guest list was limited to red carpet regulars and VIPs, anyone with a heart for fashion had front row access from the comforts of home. Rocco declared, “Viewers do not need an exclusive invitation to access IDFW and they never should. Fashion is for everyone, which is why we showcase designers from different footpaths and allow viewers to watch these creative video productions for free.”
Fashion films and digital presentations were available to online view via FNL Network for up to six months from launch date. Rocco confides, “Everyday people from all over the world are watching IDFW from the comfort of their own homes.”
No Pomp or Pageantry. Just Pure Artistry
Over 100 designers showed at the premiere of IDFW. While other Fashion Weeks in capitals only showcase designers specific to the city, IDFW decided to blur boundaries and time zones. Apart from established brands, the new digital model also embraced independent, emerging talents such that viewers had a preview of the next big thing in fashion.
From an observer’s perspective, it was exciting to see how designers would translate their style propositions online. Without the pomp and pageantry of a live defile, it was interesting to observe how independent labels would connect to an online audience. It felt, at least from the across the screen of my laptop, that every label and designer was back on equal footing. At IDFW, it did not matter if you had a giant fashion conglomerate backing you or were operating from a small atelier in your home. Collections were experienced, praised, and measured on merits of sheer vision, talent, and artistry. Rocco confirms: “There are minimal requirements when it comes to how exclusive and popular a brand already is. For us, it’s about designers showcasing their work, art, and passion to the world.”
Solution For the Style World
It was a challenge, especially for stakeholders in the fashion industry, to navigate the pandemic. Sales from brick and mortar shops plummeted as cities shut down for months. By September, brands wondered about how they were going to show their collection with fashion week having been canceled. Rocco recalled, “Designers were grateful and relieved when we approached them to participate in our digital event. They were very welcoming and appreciative of the effort to create a solution for the industry.”
Participating brands and designers at IDFW were selected and scanned by a global team of partners and representatives around the world. There was also chance for other designers to reach out and submit their application to the board. “There is no common denominator when it comes to choosing labels or brands,” said Rocco. “But we are very particular about choosing professional, authentic, and unique designers to be showcased.” Brands that made quite an impression at IDFW included: Agua Bendita, Alberta Ferretti, Amato Couture, Smalto, Christian Siriano, Dr Zwack, DSquared2, Ermenegildo Zegna, Maisie Wilen, Bibhu Mohapatra, Social Work , Sandy Liang, Bevza, to name a few.
Here To Stay For Fall/Winter 2021
Participants, viewers, and organizers of IDFW agreed that digital is the future of fashion. Rocco declares: “International Digital Fashion Week is here to stay… We will continue to hold IDFW two times a year every September and February.” Still, from the premiere’s success, the team is now already busy with preparations for its second season in February 2021. An IDFW competition is also in the pipeline. Rocco and his team declare, “What we’ve started as a result of the pandemic will stay. It will continue to progress because of the world’s desire to be part of an inclusive and diverse fashion week.” Everyone is invited to watch IDFW for free by downloading the FNL Network app: Click here.
Bianca Salonga is a lifestyle journalist who has been in publishing for the last two decades. She took up her MBA in Luxury Goods and Fashion in Paris, France. Both experience and higher education continue to inform her work as a brand story teller and advocate for purposeful living.
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