The future of Runways: Virtual Showrooms

The last fashion week shows for Fall/Winter 2020 feel like decades ago as the industry standard of runway did a 180 degree shift. Long gone ae the days of cramping behind large crowds to get even a glimpse of the latest collections being modeled on a catwalk. Though designers have initiated creative alternatives for fashion shows, there is no longer one the single method for editors, buyers, and the influential fashion community to view new designs. With the rise of Zoom as the most popular virtual communication platform, brands now have the ability to utilize “virtual showrooms”

The pandemic has paved the way for new methods of virtual communication. When it comes to buying and selling clothing, virtual showrooms have become a safe, easy, and cost-efficient method for brands. First there’s NuOrder, which has been around since 2011 and allows brands to conduct business completely online. Buyers can view 360 visuals of the showroom and see items up close from any device. They can also view entire catalogs, access up-to-the-minute sales and inventory data, and place orders any time of day, even via mobile.

The completely customizable online showroom partnered with New York Fashion Week to offer their services to emerging brands who otherwise would not be able to participate. “You can put in whatever widget you want, whether it’s video or a line sheet, and you get to create in any layout, format, or direction that you feel is appropriate for your brand,” says Olivia Skuza, one of the founders told Vogue.

Some brands have created their own virtual showroom technologies, complete with AR models and digital rack assortment. Bruce Pask, the veteran menswear buyer and men’s fashion director of Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, told Vogue, “The brands that could best replicate the in-showroom experience were the most successful appointments.”

For now, these virtual showrooms will allow brands to conduct their business on a somewhat normal basis. However, both brands and their buyers long for the return to face-to-face appointments.

By Staci Soslowitz