New York Fashion Week will go forward, but with a new format. The Council of Fashion Designers of America has released the official lineup for the spring 2021 season, along with a digital initiative that will allow designers to present their collections to both industry professionals and the general public. Titled Runway360, the platform is a response to the global health crisis that has affected fashion at large, serving as a safe way to highlight 60 designers (and counting) who have all faced hardships in the past months.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the global fashion industry and hit New York particularly hard,” said Steven Kolb, CEO of the CFDA, in a statement. “Fashion week is a critical time when brands are able to connect with press, retailers and consumers, and I’m proud of how quickly the CFDA pivoted to support the needs of the industry by creating Runway360.”
Indeed, the three-ring circus (the packed venues, rows of photographers crowding street corners, and heavy traffic) often associated with New York Fashion Week will presumably be absent. In place of in-person events, Runway360 will host virtual showcases from September 13 to 16, giving each brand 30-minute time slots to connect with an audience. Well-known names on the roster include Tom Ford, Jason Wu, Carolina Herrera, Eckhaus Latta, Jonathan Simkhai, LaQuan Smith, Naeem Khan, Nicole Miller, Veronica Beard, and Zero + Maria Cornejo. But not all have jumped on the bandwagon.
Noticeably not on the calendar are Michael Kors, Proenza Schouler, Brandon Maxwell, Tory Burch, and Prabal Gurung, who have tentatively decided to postpone their presentations until October or later. Also, Marc Jacobs has decided to forgo a spring 2021 collection altogether. Still, the absence of these marquee names isn’t too big a loss—at least not for emerging labels and events that have normally been sidelined. To wit: They now have the chance to fill that void.
“We are excited to see 15 new American brands on the schedule—many for the first time—who might not have had the opportunity to share their collections to a global audience without access to Runway360,” Kolb added. “We’re also excited to highlight the incredible talent coming out of Harlem’s Fashion Row, and announce the return of New York Men’s Day.”
But even with this set schedule, it is unclear how each brand will utilize the platform. The fashion landscape, to be sure, is charted, and everyone has to decide individually the best course of action that can bolster their business.
Still, in the midst of all this uncertainty, there are organizations like the CFDA that are here to help. As Kolb concluded, “In the face of unprecedented challenges and uncertainty within our industry, the American fashion community has once again come together to support each other and prove its resilience.”
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