4 ways New York Fashion Week plans to change the game this September

Is RUNWAY360 the coup de maître of the fashion industry?
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4 ways New York Fashion Week plans to change the game this September

Could this be the last time we'll see Hilary Swank, Katie Holmes, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Rachel Brosnahan on the Ralph Lauren FROW?  

Due to the new socially-distanced reality, designers bunched traditional fashion weeks to an all-encompassing digital experience. And with the big fashion month's arrival in September, we can certainly expect more - if not better - to come.

Earlier this month, Grazia hailed Copenhagen as the future of Fashion Week and in the chain of events, now it's New York Fashion Week hitting the re-boot. Set in the beginning of September, here is how NYFW and its brand new shiny platform is set to transcend fashion's borders - with and without digits.

1. It's only going to last 4 days...
After Copenhagen Fashion Week's successful three day hybrid format of live and digital shows dubbed CPHFW72H, New York Fashion Week will follow in its redefining footsteps. Taking place between 13-16 September, it will span a mere FOUR days only. In with the new, gone with the old: three to four days is the new week.
2. ...but, it's digital all year-round
Eschewing the traditional week for its Spring 2021 season, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) has rolled out a digital initiative titled RUNWAY360, which will "allow brands the flexibility to show their collections in a variety of formats and at a time that works for them, and engages domestic and international press, consumers, and retailers, most of which are not currently able to travel to New York," the CFDA explained in a statement.

The new platform will continue to showcase events beyond the SS21 runways, "RUNWAY360 will be an ongoing business tool for brands to use, complimenting physical events and shows in the future." Unprecedented for Fashion Week, designers will be able to present their collections to both industry insiders and the public - whenever and wherever, as they please, "The CFDA will continue to support designers through the platform at any time of the year that they choose to show their collections." Already, a handful of designers are looking at a later date in order to bring their collections at a more appropiate time, closer to the actual season, when shoppers will want to wear the pieces.

Those not on the calendar include Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler, Tory Burch, Prabal Gurung, Brandon Maxwell, and Michael Kors - who will show later in October. And though we won't catch a glimpse of their spectacular shows for SS21 yet, good news is Tom Ford, Jason Wu, Carolina Herrera, Eckhaus Latta, Rebecca Minkoff and Anna Sui are all set to wow us. NYFW will begin with Jason Wu at 5pm on Sunday 13 September, and will end with Tom Ford at 7pm on Wednesday 16 September.

3.  There will be far fewer shows
Forget the chaos usually prevailing Fashion Week - the busy backstage, attendees racing to make it to the next show while stuck in traffic jams, or waiting for a jam-packed front row.  For the live shows, New York Fashion Week will be in strict compliance with New York State health and safety guidelines with outdoor events curbed to 50 people and indoor events at 50 percent capacity and no spectators.

On the digital end, RUNWAY360 will feature only 60 shows (a massive shift compared to last year's more than 150 shows), with each brand given a time slot of bare 30-minutes.

Steven Kolb, Chief Executive Officer of the CFDA added, “Fashion week is a critical time when brands are able to connect with press, retailers and consumers, and I’m proud of how quickly the CFDA pivoted to support the needs of the industry by creating RUNWAY360."

"In the face of unprecedented challenges and uncertainty within our industry, the American fashion community has once again come together to support each other and prove its resilience,” Kolb stated.

4. Diversity will reign
Perhaps, more than ever before, the new digital triumph will also push diversity forward as a key driver in fashion. New York Fashion Week will host 10 new American brands as well as  the multicultural designers of Harlem’s Fashion Row - an organisation advocating African-American and Latino designers, founded by Brandice Daniel. In addition, menswear will also return to the official calendar. 

Where does this leave us? The pandemic has invited a new norm - from the office to our social lives. A norm, where we're constantly re-thinking our ways. And this re-evaluation is what moves us forward, taking a fresh look at everything we've been doing. Should we buy less? What does sustainable even mean? Do fashion shows even make sense?

"The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on American fashion, slowing down the supply chain and temporarily shutting down many business operations and brick-and-mortar retail," the CFDA stated. But fashion's digital get-togethers might reinvigorate the industry.

With RUNWAY360 capping a year-round interactive platform that's open to all, fashion has truly shot the conversation in the digital space. And in an already social media obsessed world, this exciting mesh of digital and live could be the exact thing to halt the exhausted wheel of size zeros and the trillions of year-ahead shows. To roll with sustainability, diversity, understanding and soul - even if momentarily it's in digits. 

To see the official schedule, visit cfda.com/fashion-calendar/official-nyfw-schedule

Photo: Billy Farrell, BFA, and Rex Features