How New Zealand Fashion Week will survive
So, how do experts think Fashion Week will survive the changing times?
Quick to respond to changing times, international fashion weeks have already begun to diversify their respective events, which now include pop-up stores, selling items exclusive to the event and offering tiered tickets to attendees, while fashion houses have adapted their showcasing techniques. Labels like Victoria Beckham and Marchesa have substituted pricy runway shows for intimate mini-shows for select audiences, while New Zealand celebrity Matilda Rice wielded her considerable social media influence as she walked in the Jockey runway show in NZFW 2017.
Today, online presence has almost eclipsed physical presence and Fashion Week is no exception. Platforms are validating our experiences more than ever, which means that while people care if you’re at fashion week, they care more if they see you are on Instagram and Snapchat. Despite dramatic claims, the runway isn’t set to die just yet but does need to be used in conjunction with digital media in order to have a maximum effect with audiences.
In Dr Elms’ opinion, while being a successful fashion retailer is harder than ever in a digital era, the key to longevity would be looking to influencers and subcultures to stay relevant. “It’s not about dictating what’s going anymore but fully absorbing everything around you. You need to find out where you’re placed, what you can do better, what you should do less of because you’re no longer dictating or controlling what is fashionable anymore,” he says.
According to The Warehouse’s Cutfield, as street fashion grows in popularity, it won’t be the big marketing companies or million-dollar budgets that dominate audiences, but the social media influencers.
“We’re sort of flattening our social classes and social media supports that,” Cutfield said. “Everyone has a voice now and I think that’s why companies feel like they need to buy someone with a following because you can’t buy that from advertising companies.” Iconic American label Tommy Hilfiger caught onto this tactic, opening its Spring 2016 Fashion Show with supermodel and global influencer Gigi Hadid. Capitalising on the young starlet’s following, the brand reported a monumental boost in sales and brand recognition that is still going strong today. Countless other brands have done similarly, with Miu Miu’s 2018 runway show featuring actresses like Uma Thurman and Kate Bosworth in place of professional runway models.
Dr Elms says partnership is another key for the survival of Fashion Week and its participating brands. “It's not just the designer anymore, everything is co-designed, everything is co-produced, the value is co-created, from consumers, from designers, from retailers,” he says. While the mix of high-end fashion and casual streetwear labels seems bizarre, you know it’s worth exploring when the likes of Louis Vuitton and Selfridges jump on the bandwagon. The London luxury department store partnered with hip-hop artist A$AP Rocky for a pop-up store in 2017, while Louis Vuitton collaborated with skateboard brand Supreme for a fashion range that generated NZ$200 million in sales.
So, it seems that the powers that be are indeed still making our sartorial choices for us, albeit through different channels than they might have done previously. The cycle of inspiration may shapeshift from designer-led to street-style led, but it’s safe to say it’ll cycle back again.