In recent years, the influence of fashion week in the media has been steadily declining. It’s debatable to say that fashion week is dead, at least entirely, but we can say with a fair amount of certainty that it is dying. The decline of fashion week has led to questions surrounding the reasons behind its loss of both public and media attention, the necessity of its existence and its relevance to how consumers buy clothes today. Will fashion week have a revival if it is re-imagined to suit modern consumption habits? Do we really need fashion week to learn about high fashion in a digital age where products and ideas are so widely accessible online? Or is it worth holding on to some of the magic and glamour that we associate with the late twentieth century? Let’s investigate whether fashion week should remain important to the fashion industry in 2020, or whether we should leave it in the dust.
Firstly, it’s important to consider the roots of fashion week, and where its popularity originated. Until relatively recently, the concept of fashion week made perfect sense. It was beneficial for brands, designers, models, consumers and everyone in between in the fashion industry. In the 1990s, when fashion week was at its peak, it enhanced the careers of supermodels like Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, and provided networking opportunities for those working in the industry. Of course, it has also historically been an exciting and enjoyable time for those who are, non-professionally, interested in high fashion and designer brands, and can afford to consume expensive, luxurious and immensely fashionable products.
Put simply, fashion week and the cycles of fashion trends are not relevant or appealing anymore. Our shopping habits have changed
So, when did such an iconic event start to go downhill? It’s hard, probably impossible, to pinpoint. However, if we focus on New York Fashion Week in particular, we can partially attribute its loss of popularity to decentralisation. It had previously been held at Bryant Park before being relocated to the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, but the events were eventually moved again and split into several different locations rather than being held at one central place. This movement from one large-scale event to a group of smaller, less crowded venues has diluted the impact of New York Fashion Week, contributing to its decline.
Essentially, fashion week just isn’t as important as it used to be. Organisers have been trying to maintain its relevance, to keep it alive, but it’s not really working. That’s not to say that people aren’t still participating. Plenty of consumers still attend fashion week and see it as a highly significant event in the fashion industry’s calendar, but it doesn’t seem to be reaching most of us like it has done in the past. Put simply, fashion week and the cycles of fashion trends are not relevant or appealing anymore. Our shopping habits have changed – we get our style inspiration from Instagram influencers and targeted advertisements, not magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. In fact, these publications seem to have shifted from primarily fashion content, to many more pieces on health, lifestyle and popular culture.
It still means a lot to those who design, model, produce and sell products in the industry
Not everyone is losing interest in high fashion, but a lot of people are starting to recognise the flaws in the system when it comes to fast fashion. With a lot of consumers turning to ethical alternatives rather than cheap clothing we find on the high street, it is hard for some brands to maintain popularity and relevance.
Fashion week is falling to pieces, and no one is sure if it is worth saving. It seems to have so many pitfalls, from issues concerning racial and body diversity, to the inaccessibility of sky-high price points of luxury brands. It is more democratised than ever, but it still has deep-rooted problems regarding its relevance to regular shoppers. A lot of people don’t care about it at all – much of Generation Z may not have even heard of its existence – but it still means a lot to those who design, model, produce and sell products in the industry. Maybe we don’t really need fashion week nowadays, and maybe it deserves to lose some of its popularity, but it doesn’t deserve to die completely.