In January 2020, Copenhagen Fashion Week unveiled an ambitious plan that was targeted towards revamping it’s outlook on sustainability in the fashion industry. Less than two months later, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, halting business around the globe. “We’re still on track with our three-year plan, including the development of the 2023 sustainability requirements.” says Cecilie Thorsmark, chief executive officer of Copenhagen Fashion Week, “We’re guiding the brands and they can see from now exactly which action points they need to be focusing on. There are minimum standards within each area of the value chain you need to comply with, otherwise you won’t be able to be a part of fashion week for sure, but then there are additional points that you can worked on to gain more points.” (source – WWD)
The digital–physical hybrid
However, much has changed since then, not least is how the platform is viewing fashion week as a whole. It has been garnered praise for it’s hybrid of digital and physical shows as well as support of it’s designers via it’s ‘no-rules’ approach that gave designers and brands the creativity to showcase their collections through whichever medium they felt the most comfortable with.
While some like Oslo based designer Holzweiler experimented with a short film to showcase it’s Spring 2021 collection, there were others like Rains that embraced the hybrid format with a film that was simultaneous showcased online as well as to fashion week folk at the Copenhagen City Center. Says Susanne Holzweiler, co-founder of Holzweiler, “We had an opportunity to all stop and try to do something different, try to use our voices to talk about something other than the collections that will be in stores in six months. It didn’t feel important enough this time and we wanted to do something that felt right with the now.” She also added that the brand is working toward cutting down the amount of collections it produces from four to two. (source – WWD)
We had an opportunity to all stop and try to do something different, try to use our voices to talk about something other than the collections that will be in stores in six months. It didn’t feel important enough this time and we wanted to do something that felt right with the now.Susanne Holzweiler, co-founder of Holzweiler
While the digital format was eagerly embraced, it is abundantly clear that there is no replacing the traditional format of in-person shows anytime soon. Traditional fashion shows enable the viewers to palpably interact with the designer and his vision, however, a digital format allows for a higher level of creativity from the designers and engagement from the brand. “The season proved that physical is still here and digital cannot just replace experiencing collections physically, whether at trade fairs or shows,” says Cecilie. “So, there’s a magic vibe around the physical part of fashion week and all of us who attended in person this season felt that physical is not going to go away. But the digital platform proved that there’s so much potential in engaging brands, editors and consumers on a whole new level, by also adding discussions, conversations and making sure that even the people who can’t be here in person can actually be a part of fashion week. I don’t see us ever going 100 percent physical or 100 percent digital, dependent on the guidelines of the authorities.” (source – WWD)
The season proved that physical is still here and digital cannot just replace experiencing collections physically, whether at trade fairs or shows. So, there’s a magic vibe around the physical part of fashion week and all of us who attended in person this season felt that physical is not going to go away. But the digital platform proved that there’s so much potential in engaging brands, editors and consumers on a whole new level, by also adding discussions, conversations and making sure that even the people who can’t be here in person can actually be a part of fashion week.Cecilie Thorsmark, Chief Executive Officer, Copenhagen Fashion Week
Street style at Copenhagen Fashion Week – a favourite of the Instagram crowd – was in full form this time around as well, despite the lack of international attendees and a significantly shorter guest list. As per fashion search engine platform Lyst, searches for street style inspired fashion significantly grew around the time of Copenhagen Fashion Week. The new hybrid of shows also prompted non-fashion folk to engage with the shows, as locations for the shows ranged from parks to city squares.
Sustainability was very much at the forefront at Copenhagen Fashion Week, despite the experimental format. AiSPi’s favourite Baum und Pferdgarten were one of the few to host a physical show for an audience of fifty guests. The label presented a tightly curated collection of vinyl leather separates and their signature dresses that made for one of their most focused shows yet. “It’s the shortest show we have ever done with such few guests, but it’s also more intimate than any other show we’ve ever done,” said the label’s creative director Helle Hestehave. (source – WWD). Copenhagen Fashion Week also intends to follow through on the sustainability mission that it launched in January 2020. Come 2023, brands will not be permitted to participate unless they comply with the seventeen points laid out by the company as part of it’s extensive effort to encourage brands to embrace sustainability across a range of verticals.
“I really think it’s about creating a platform that can drive change. Going forward, I would love to be the fashion week that can do both: It can attracts brands that are best in class in terms of sustainability, without compromising on the fashion,” says Cecilie. “We want to keep engaging the group of brands, which are part of our fashion week right now, and potentially attract more and bigger fashion brands, which can maintain that level of high fashion and at the same time foster sustainable change. Because otherwise in 2023, if as a brand you’re not complying with our 17 minimum standards, then you won’t be a part of our fashion week — with all the respect to brands. We won’t become sustainability week, it will always be a fashion week and it’s fashion first, but it must be the fashion that is best in class and also puts sustainability on the forefront. That’s the future.” (source: WWD)
– Written by Soha Joshi