This upcoming fashion month, it will officially become possible to buy a front row ticket to a high-profile runway show.
Thanks to the internet and social media, fashion weeks around the world have become increasingly public-facing, no longer shrouded in secrecy and exclusivity, accessible only to industry insiders and celebrities as they once were. And come September, the British Fashion Council is taking that evolution a step further by reconfiguring its biannual fashion events to cater to two audiences: trade, i.e. press and buyers, and the public. We're not just talking about "see now, buy now," either.
While the trade-facing London Fashion Week from Sept. 13-17 won't change significantly for attendees, there will be a separate schedule of six ticketed runway shows taking place on Sept. 14 and 15 aimed at the public. While the participating designers have yet to be announced, tickets won't come cheap: Per the event website, they're £135.00 (about $152) for a "standard" ticket and £245.00 (about $275) for front row. Guests will also have access to installations, panel discussions and something called the DiscoveryLAB, "an experiential space where fashion meets art, technology and music," per a press release.
Both the public and trade audiences will also be able to take in a new space, Designer Exhibition, which will showcase the work of new, progressive designers, with a focus on those who fall under the BFC's new #PositiveFashion initiative. Brands with stories that tie into the initiative's pillars — sustainability; equality and diversity; craftsmanship and community — are being invited to showcase.
The BFC also hopes to extend London Fashion Week's presence well outside of its official event spaces, negotiating partnerships with retailers and "cultural institutions" to "make #LFW a cultural city-wide celebration that will introduce fashion to a wider pool of people who may not have previously engaged with it or understand the incredible careers and opportunities that the industry holds."
This certainly isn't the first time a major fashion week organizer has made a play to capitalize on public interest in fashion designers and the industry as a whole: The big push for "see now, buy now" is one example (which seems to have quieted), while IMG and the CFDA have experimented with ways to engage consumers. Plus individual companies have been holding public-facing events for years.
But this London Fashion Week news feels like the biggest step taken thus far towards bringing fans into the fold; and while it's still difficult to imagine the organizers of the fashion weeks in Milan and Paris championing this kind of accessibility, we can't help but wonder if New York could end up heading in a similar direction.
UPDATED, Thurs. Aug. 15, 9:35 a.m.: House Of Holland and Self-Portrait will host public-facing shows for their Fall 2019 collections on Sun., Sept. 15 during London Fashion Week, according to an announcement from the BFC on Thursday. London Fashion Week ticket holders will have access to three different time slots for these shows: 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
More runway shows, talks and designers participating in the Designer Exhibition will be announced over the next few weeks.