The launch of London Fashion Week was today hailed as the “first steps back to normality” for the industry as some of the world’s top designers began showcasing their latest collections.
The festival features 80 leading international names on the six-day schedule including Victoria Beckham, Christopher Kane and Molly Goddard, who famously dressed the assassin Villanelle in the hit BBC drama Killing Eve.
The latest biannual LFW has been configured as a hybrid online and in-person event due to the coronavirus pandemic, including 50 digital events and 21 physical catwalk shows, presentations and appointment-only viewings. British Fashion Council head Caroline Rush said the industry — which is usually worth £32 billion a year to the economy but has been hit hard by Covid — was “cautiously” optimistic about returning to business as usual.
“We are taking our first steps back to normality,” she added. “It won’t be like a fashion week that we are all used to, but it is getting some way there. We are excited to be doing some of this in person, I am excited to see some of my team in person for the first time since lockdown.”
Burberry hosted the first live-streamed show yesterday. Measures have been taken to ensure social distancing.
The fashion industry employs almost 900,000 people in the UK and generates nearly £2 trillion in global annual revenues. However, research by Business of Fashion shows it is likely to contract by 27 to 30 per cent this year because of the pandemic. Research by Oxford Economics suggests the British fashion industry faced a 25 per cent drop in revenue this year, resulting in 240,000 direct job losses and the loss of another 110,000 indirect roles in supply chains.
Ms Rush said the pandemic had forced the industry to slow down and consider two of its major long-term issues — sustainability and inclusivity.
On the environment, she said: “We have had an opportunity to evaluate things and think about what kind of an industry we want to become.
“As an industry we were moving at a million miles an hour and were getting caught up in constantly creating. We have an opportunity for change.”
Following the launch of the BFC’s new diversity and inclusion committee, created to help represent minorities in fashion, Ms Rush added: “London is such a fantastic, multicultural city. It is because of this that we are leaders in creativity. Fashion needs to reflect that.”
Brands showing with a digital and physical presence also include Bethany Williams, Emilia Wickstead and Erdem.
Eudon Choi and Beckham are returning to the schedule with physical presentations, with Bora Aksu, Mark Fast and Pronounce hosting socially distanced catwalk shows. Designers with a digital-only presence include JW Anderson and Richard Quinn.
Digital shows and events are being hosted on londonfashionweek.co.uk