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London Fashion Week to Go All Digital, Gender-Neutral in June

The Spring 2021 shows, scheduled for September, haven't yet been canceled, though.

On Tuesday, the British Fashion Council (BFC) announced that its upcoming fashion week, London Fashion Week Men's — originally slated for June 12 through 15 — will now be entirely digital. It will also drop the "Men's," instead pivoting to a "gender-neutral platform" that covers menswear and womenswear. With that change, designers that want to participate in London Fashion Week can choose when they showcase their new collections, either in June or in September, per the BFC.

"The current pandemic is leading us all to reflect more poignantly on the society we live in and how we want to live our lives and build businesses when we get through this," Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the BFC, said in a statement. "The other side of this crisis, we hope will be about sustainability, creativity and product that you value, respect, cherish."

For the occasion, the BFC will introduce an all-new digital platform, where people can access not just the collections that would typically debut on a runway or at a presentation, but also additional multi-media content, including interviews with designers, podcasts and e-commerce.

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This doesn't necessarily mean that London Fashion Week won't happen in September for Spring 2021: A spokesperson for the BFC confirmed to Fashionista that the shows haven't yet been canceled, though the organization will continue to monitor the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic. According to WWD, the BFC hopes to maintain its four annual live events (traditionally January and June fashion weeks for men's, February and September fashion weeks for women's). 

In March, the BFC's Foundation launched its Covid Crisis Fund, which provides small fashion businesses and emerging designers with monetary support to help them weather this time. "Our hope is to support those British businesses that need additional subsidies, beyond Government stimulus available, to address their most urgent challenges," Rush said of the initiative last month.

Over the past few weeks, as the coronavirus has continued to spread globally, Shanghai and Moscow have hosted online fashion weeks. Helsinki announced its fashion week, originally scheduled for July, will also be all digital, while Paris canceled its summertime men's and haute couture shows. In New York, the Council of Fashion Designers of America canceled Resort 2021 shows and postponed June's New York Fashion Week: Men's

Meanwhile, designers and fashion executives across the globe have meditated on what the future of fashion shows might look like. At Vogue's Global Conversations virtual conference last week, Balmain's Olivier Rousteing argued "that we need to have an experience. I know that after this confinement, I want to create something in the streets, I want to bring back the togetherness, for sure." Chloé's Natascha Ramsay-Levi made the case for reimagining them entirely: "The way the business model of the fashion show has been done has to stop. It has to be rewired totally."

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