The Changing Face of Fashion Week: Challenges and Opportunities for Venues and Designers


POSTED BY | Will Simmonds

Colour, fabric, cut and style, The Fashion Industry is driven by seasonal change. Yet the birth of ‘Fashion Week‘ in 1984 provided one constant; bi-annual dates in the style diary that promise lavish and exciting catwalk shows, showcasing preseason collections to a handpicked selection of celebrities, industry experts and press. For London, this is one of the most anticipated events of the year. However, the rise of digital and birth of social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat have provided a pressure to not only update collections but also the format of a fashion show. This poses both a challenge and opportunity for designers and venues who work to create fashion shows, ultimately meaning choosing a perfect Fashion Week location has become an entirely different ball game.

The digital conversation around fashion is growing and a rise of key influencers is fuelling a desire for fast fashion. The current format of displaying a preseason line is being replaced with a ‘See Now, Buy Now’ strategy as designers change business models and production schedules to tackle decreasing retail sales and meet the new immediate demand. Major fashion houses including Burberry and retail favourites like Topshop have showcased items available to purchase immediately. Furthermore, a change in focus has been seen, the importance of once converted and exclusive seats at fashion shows are being traded for focus on maximising social reach.

So, what are the challenges and opportunities? Historically, those with the biggest budget can steal the show, take Karl Lagerfeld and his incredible production, transforming Paris’ Grand Palais into an airport for his Spring-Summer 2016 collection. However now a smaller budget doesn’t necessary mean less exposure. Misha Nonoo, who adapted to her large online customer base, produced an Instagram show before the rush of Fashion Week which reached 15.1 million followers, resulting in an 80% increase in new visitors and interesting, could have been shot anywhere. The power of successful hashtags and using influences to promote your brand can drive a buzz around the event.

This allows designers to consider new location options and provides a key opportunity for venues which may previously have been limited by aspects such as capacity to get involved with one of London’s most prestigious dates in the calendar.

As an experienced London conference venue, Glaziers Hall is used to handling events creatively and has hosted larger London Fashion Week catwalks by transforming the Banqueting Hall into a runway with an audience of 200. Although this format will still be favoured by many, others like DVF are opting for one-on-one appointments or relaxed presentations like Markus Lupfer. For these a space with a quintessentially British backdrop, such as the River Room at Glaziers Hall, will be the perfect setting to showcase new collections. While others will simply be looking for a space to shoot a social media campaign.

With tech savvy ideas such as Tommy Hilfiger’s InstaPit, the pressure is on to think outside the box and find a new, fresh format that works for each individual brand. The recent fluctuations in currency has resulted in London becoming increasingly affordable and attractive for designers and together with venues across the capital there is an opportunity to create and transform spaces, ultimately influencing what’s on trend for next seasons shows.