Today, Sep. 10, marks the official start of New York "Fashion Week." The last time that models, designers, and editors flocked to Spring Studios (before flocking was off limits), the industry was on the precipice of unprecedented change. Swept by a pandemic that shuttered runway shows, retail stores, and photoshoots, the industry was forced to reckon with the breakneck, oftentimes antiquated fashion system. Now, ahead of a reframed week of "shows," the fashion pack is coming together through Fashinnovation Worldwide Talks 2020 — a two-day virtual summit, aimed at forging a more considered path ahead for the industry.
Through this virtual event, Rachel Zoe, Sofia Resing, Rebecca Minkoff, and more are joining panels that examine social impact, diversity and inclusion, sustainable development, and more through the lens of technology. Khalea Underwood, TZR Beauty Editor spoke with Birchbox's Katia Beauchamp for a “Fashion Is How Clean Went Mainstream," panel; stylist-turned-entrepreneur Rachel Zoe partook in a personal conversation on the ways fashion has framed our shifting reality. Overall, each dialogue traced back to the industry's seismic, pandemic-induced shakedown, which has resonated across departments and strata.
That said, for designers like Mara Hoffman, the time is now to keep adapting and changing — thus, ensuring a more ethical, equitable, and sustainable future for the entire industry. "To me, this gave way to an opportunity to disrupt the archaic system in which this industry operates, [so] that the challenges of having had to reduce my business and team would not have been in vain," Hoffman tells TZR. As for what those changes are: "producing less, designing season-less pieces, using fabrics and products that already exist, diving deeper into circularity," she says. "It is all about collaboration, if the industry can unite, support each other, and hold each other accountable, we can create the necessary change."
With Fashion Month 2020 promptly in our purview, many leaders considered how the our new reality (lessened travel, shrunken gatherings) could have precedent on the future of Fashion Week in particular. Social distancing-induced virtual shows have come with one silver lining: allowing a wider net of viewers to tune into the presentations, without the ecological cost of flying across the globe.
"In the past, we’ve never seen New York Fashion Week be one to embrace brands that are emerging or scaling, as it's been more on the exclusive side, as well as very pricey if you're not a household name," says Jordana Guimarães, the founder of Fashinnovation, to TZR. "[With] all of the innovations via technologies ... I think New York Fashion Week will realize that inclusivity is key in the industry."
Designers (specifically those with Gen Z and Millennial audiences) are expected to preserve the online format in some way, long after gathering restrictions are lifted. Regardless of what the future may hold, change is almost guaranteed, according to Rachel Zoe: "While very uncertain right now, [Fashion Week] will unquestionably reemerge in a new iteration that will inspire and educate future generations on the business of fashion," she tells TZR.
To stream Zoe's "Fashion is a Journey" panel, as well as all others from the summit, tune into Fashinnovation's YouTube channel, where all recorded talks will be posted within 24 hours of the event.