Following London Fashion Week, Milan Fashion Week and Milan's Menswear Fashion Week going digital, cyber couture shows paved the way, continued by socially distanced runway shows (think Jacquemus, who - eager to get back - switched the viral lavender fields to yet another viral wheat harvest, genius though not the point).
The next to seat us at the virtual FROW was Copenhagen Fashion Week. And before we could think we'd encounter a pared-back version of fashion week - filled with digital shows, the Danes proved to be one step ahead (yet again).
Here are the 7 ways Copenhagen introduced us to fashion's future, re-inventing the wheels. And no, we're not exaggarating.
1. It wasn't a week
For three days starting 9 August , the Danish capital was busy with (distanced) showgoers flocking in and out of showrooms, runway presentations, exhibitions and parties, reawakening street style. Dubbed CPHFW72H, an acronym of Copenhagen Fashion Week 72 Hours - the format panned out as a hybrid of digital and live.
Think fashion week re-packaged: both a digital and non-digital fashion surge straight for 72 hours. Presented on copenhagenfashionweek.com, the "new digital universe" (as CPHFW calls it) streamed 32 shows and presentations along with talks, events, films, exhibitions, and installations.
Pre-COVID, editors and buyers flooded the city to peak at the collections of fashion sensations, such as Ganni, or Saks Potts. Now with travel bans across the globe, this was simply impossible. Copenhagen's solution? Re-booting the system, designers on the schedule engaged in a live Q&A with editors and buyers, directly after their show, a definite pandemic-proof way to keep press going - under and probably even after lockdown.
"Although convinced that digital solutions can never replace the emotional and sensorial experience of seeing collections physically, this edition marks the kickoff of a new era for Copenhagen Fashion Week, where presenting and distributing shows digitally is now more crucial than ever. We're extremely excited to see how this development can foster original creative material and cultivate new relationships with editors, buyers and consumers," stated Cecilie Thorsmark, CEO of Copenhagen Fashion Week prior to its start.
2. It was inclusive
It seems like the format successfully reinvented Fashion Weeks, balancing digital and physical in a way that created a sense of normalcy, excitement and collectedness all at the same time.
This perfect equilibrium was realised by digital runways, showrooms and press days powered by Copenhagen Fashion Week's partner, VOCAST - a reservoir of fashion brands displayed at the touch of a button.
The offbeat digital pool not only enabled fashion houses to share on-brand assets, but it it also connected said brands with bloggers and editors from its network to spread the word.
And this first-of-its-kind digital imagery coined a new existence of fashion: instead of keeping track of different websites and tools to receive assets, invitations, newsletters and contacts, VOCAST conveniently filed it all in one (chic) place.
3. It responded to our socially distanced reality
In an attempt to include every label, organisers let brands show as they like - digitally, or physically with necessary precautions taken, of course. Here, it's worth noting that Copenhagen has re-opened to a degree that feels almost normal. Denmark was out of lockdown by late April and was the first in Europe to reopen schools and small businesses without having a subsequent rise in COVID-19 cases, which explains how the new CPHFW format came to be.
With the choice given to brands, creativty was at its peak. Two days in, we saw the street style set take to shows and in-person exhibitions. For instance, Soeren Le Schmidt showcased its SS21 collection yesterday at "an outdoor courtyard with good distance and good friends and colleagues" as CPHFW captioned.
Another great example of a socially distanced, physical presentation was courtesy of REMAIN Birger Christensen's SS21 collection presented at the Thorvaldsens Museum in Copenhagen while Ditte Reffstrup at Ganni eschewed the runway for Ganni 202020, a three-day art exhibition and a kiosk of Ganni's rent-able collection with Levi's.
Envisioning the upcoming decade, the exhibition included London-based photographer, Rosie Marks' lifesize cardboard cut-outs of her friends in her garden in July 2020 wearing Ganni; Hayley Blomquist’s hand-knitted wall sculpture made from Levi’s deadstock denim; and choreographer Maria “Decida” Wahlber's dance film.
But aside from Denmark opening up faster, socially-distanced and digital runways, other safety measures were still set in place with all activities "set up to meet applicable regulatory requirements," Thorsmark acknowledged. Welcoming guests at the Mark Kenly Domino Tan SS21 show, for instance, seaters were wearing both gloves and masks.
The lesson? Thorsmark noted, "brands with live showcases need to be flexible and adaptable in their planning." And for any further safety concerns raised, she reassured all pyhsical events were "in accordance with the instructions and regulations of the Danish authorities and guide brands."
4. It created one centralised show space
While physical shows and exhibitions took place at different locations, a special hub was also created for Copenhagen Fashion Week's other events, limiting and simplifying the number of venues for showgoers.
Located at the Villa Copenhagen hotel, attendees could sit at the Fashion Café, where they were served fresh breakfast and stylish lattes to get the day going.
The smart venue gave space to forums, such as Meet the Nordics, or The Jewellery Room showcasing Danish designers and connecting them with press, buyers, and influencers IRL. A hands-on and practical way to go not just during a pandemic, but in the near-future for more time, less traffic and less rushing.
5. It launched a digital advisory board
To meet industry expectations with the new hybrid showformat, Copenhagen Fashion Week also set up a digital advisory board, consisting of Ganni's founder Nicolaj Reffstrup, Stine Goya's CEO Thomas Hertz, Holzweiler's creative director Susanne Holzweiler, Hope's creative director Frida Bard; and the creative agency MOON's CEO Martin Gjesing.
Responsible for delivering virtual shows from local labels as well as other presentations and films, who better to have advised than the designers themselves?!
6. It started important conversations about race and sustainability
And more than just updating our sartorial status, CPHFW also set forth Small Talks - Big Conversations - a series of key discussions diving deep into real and sometimes uncomfortable topics, tackling real issues to pave the way forward.
Truly conscious, there's an emphasis on real issues just as much as on showcasing the latest collections. The talks include note-worthy panellists, who bring important, of-the-now conversations front and centre.
You could learn about The business of re-selling with Ganni's Founder Nicolaj Reffstrup and Fanny Moizant, President and Co-Founder of Vestiaire Collective; then start Exploring Anti-Racist Practices in the Scandinavian Fashion Industry with Mona Mohammed Ali, founder of Fiiri Agency, the first black owned all inclusive modeling agency in Scandinavia; finishing off with getting to know The Journey of Stine Goya with Stine Goya and Thomas Hertz - amongst the few.
7. It put the planet first
The talks were hosted and livestreamed from Copenhagen Fashion Week's physical, eco-conscious hub, set in Villa Copenhagen, a real-life demonstration of Copenhagen Fashion Week's Sustainablity Action Plan 2020-2022. Pioneering sustainabilty, Copenhagen Fashion Week was the first to introduce sustainability requirements which brands must pass in order to show on schedule.
Setting its action plan, CPHFW aims to reduce carbon footprint by 50 per cent over the next three years as well as planning to become zero-waste. And there you have it: a fashion week hybrid true modern Scandinavian style in a sustainable edit. If this isn't moving to the future, we don't know what is.
- To review the shows and for more information, visit copenhagenfashionweek.com