Shah responded first: “That’s why we designed Digital Fashion Shows,” she said, referring to KCD’s new platform on which runway shows are shown online only and inspiration quotes and hi-res images are readily available. “To be honest, not every brand needs to do a live event,” she explained.
“It’s strange for me to be arguing this since I work at Style.com,” Standen began. “but there is something special about the live experience and there is often a different quality in the clothes live that you still can’t get online.” He recalled review by Suzy Menkes comparing a Balenciaga show to a Balmain show. One was better in person, while the other translated better online. To which Lombardo posited, “In this new model of business should designers be making clothes that actually do translate online?” Since, she added, “at the end of the day, that’s what’s going to drive their sales.”
Still there’s an argument for shows. “I think it’s ok to have two pieces of the conversation,” KCD’s Shah said. “Maybe we’ve tried to turn fashion shows into being the same conversation for all. There are some brands where [the show] is their only opportunity to express their image and they take what they do at a show and around the show and they use that for six months.”
So if shows are still of value, there’s the problem that there are too many of them in too short a time to be seen by editors and buyers. Maybe not everyone should be having a show. “I think that not everybody needs to be a designer just because they design clothes,” Lombardo said of the proliferation of young, struggling designers. She suggests that they focus on create content like videos and generating buzz and creating your “brand ethos” rather than starting out with a runway show. “They’re spending too much money and there’s no return on that investment.”
In many ways, fashion has a lot to do to keep up with technology. But companies like Fashion GPS are working on ways to bridge the gap. CEO Eddie Mullon told me before the discussion, “By having the industry leaders talk about the challenges in tech and fashion, we can listen and adapt to that.” So far, we think they’re doing great. But they definitely have their work cut out for them.
Photos: Billy Farrell Agency