Politics and Pandemics: Analyzing the Future of Fashion Shows
In light of the global pandemic, artistic companies and fashion brands across the world have been
struggling to understand how fashion, theatre, and performance will move forward. The world of
high fashion has arguably been elevated and classified by the runway experience - the ability to
bring together the most impressive and innovative brands, the most beautiful models, and the
most theatrical runway performances have distinguished fashion as its own art form. COVID-19
begs the question of how fashion shows will continue to thrive, and what a fashion show will
look like moving forward.
Fashion shows have historically been the hub for international exchange of ideas in order to
progress the art form forward. In recent years, many brands have integrated digital aspects into
their runway shows, making them more theatrical and arguably more impactful to spectators.
Music, lighting, and design have become important aspects of a catwalk; it has become about
what the clothes represent, what they symbolize, and why they are important rather than if they
are solely aesthetically pleasing.
This shift towards embracing the digital may have come at the right time, considering most
fashion weeks are looking to move online for the spectacle and thrill to continue.
There are some countries that have decided to move forward with their fashion weeks, but others
are left struggling to maneuver border closures. Toronto Fashion Week decided to shut down
plans for their show in the spring, and many have argued this is related to the US/Canada border
closure. One of the major thrills of a fashion week is being able to perceive fashion from around
the world - from brands who do not have their headquarters in the same city, who bring new
colours, political themes, or visions to the experience.
Paris and Milan have their first digital fashion shows scheduled for next month, which indicates
the necessity for fashion to move into digital mediums in order to survive. Like theatre, one of
the main concerns of moving online is the loss of the intense communal feelings and culture of
the event. Not only are spectators unable to see the clothes in person, but they are also missing out on the experience of being in a room filled to the brim with greatness - a place of gathering for the
creators, designers, and innovators. In the world of fashion, this is a rare but integral moment in
the year. This is where inspiration strikes, and historically, we have looked back on fashion
shows for an understanding of where society was in those moments.
London also had its first virtual fashion show in early June and highlighted the opportunity for
more intimate conversations with designers and brand partners to truly explore their vision and
connect to a global audience.
COVID-19, the political repercussions of the pandemic, and the safety precautions we will have
to take in the future will definitely change the face of fashion - especially in terms of fashion
weeks moving forward. Once again, the interconnectedness of politics, health, and fashion prove
that art is not an isolated aspect of society: it must adapt to ever-shifting conditions, issues, and