The coronavirus epidemic has canceled parades of the more immediate future, but this does not mean that fashion will stop and neither will it slow down. During today’s talk of Vogue Global Conversations, Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing, Chloé’s Natacha Ramsay-Levi and Balenciaga’s CEO, Cedric Charbit met up with Nicole Phelps of Vogue Runway on Zoom to talk about how fashion shows can and should change in the future, both in digital format and in reality. Here are the main points of the talk.
Who is the audience of a fashion show?
One of the most crucial aspects of any reflection on the fashion show in its virtual and physical format starts from the analysis of the public. Balenciaga CEO Cedric Charbit showed data on the brand’s events that highlight the reach of each type of audience. Each season, the maison invites around 600 guests to experience its catwalks on the catwalk at Paris Fashion Week. Over 8,000 people watch live shows on YouTube, 60,000 on Instagram and 300,000 comment on them on Twitter. “If you merge all the data and add the replicas [delle dirette streaming], you get an audience of over 10 million viewers, “said Charbit. “So the question is this: do we have guests or spectators? Or are they perhaps becoming a single entity? “
Rousteing and Ramsay-Levi also agree and illustrate the different options for both physical and digital formats. Rousteing, for example, would like to bring his parades to the streets of Paris once the quarantine is over; this is to allow more people to be part of the ‘fashion story’. Ramsay-Levi instead said: “The parade is a tool of great value. I think we all agree on this. Obviously, digital exists to amplify and, as Olivier reiterated, perhaps it is the experience of the fashion show that must change to become more inclusive. “
“What do you lose and gain from watching an online show?”
Today’s guests made their debut with this question from a member of the public via Zoom. This is undoubtedly the famous ‘million dollar’ demand for the fashion industry. And it is a question that each brand could answer differently. “I don’t consider digital as anything less excitingrather, I see it as an experience in which it is possible to push one’s dreams further and further “, commented Rousteing in reference to the collaborative potential between digital artists to create spectacular virtual realities.
“We have to be aware of the fact that the audience today is largely digital, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to eliminate the parade. The shows represent a wonderful moment”, Announces Ramsay-Levi. “There may also be only 600 people in the room, but there are more than 600 in the backstage. I think it’s something very beautiful and that we should be proud of. The fashion shows are special events designed to inspire and make people think. There is a human dimension that I really want to keep. “
Most likely, the future is a place where both the digital and physical experience of the show will coexist in harmony. “I believe that the fashion shows must be rethought, starting from a digital vision” – says Charbit – “and then get an experience that speaks to people in equal measure, both online and offline”. So, he established an analogy between the music and fashion industries, emphasizing how live events, such as festivals and concerts, are just as important to fans as being able to enjoy digital music. “Right now, we could enter a phase where technology and fashion must be in harmony. It is no longer just an illusion. There is now a need to introduce technology in the way we convey our messages to people. And this is true both in showrooms and in fashion shows. “
Rousteing added that perhaps too our way of conceiving an emotional connection must change. “The emotions themselves are changing,” he says. “Before, people applauded. Now he makes posts on Instagram, which is a different form of emotion. I am sure that in the future we will be able to find a way to arouse new emotions “.
Beyond materials, how can we ensure that creativity is sustainable?
“We don’t want to live on a planet destined to die. So, we have to protect not only fashion but also our planet, “said Rousteing. As the conversation moved on to the topic of sustainability, with Charbit revealing that Balenciaga’s creative director Demna Gvasalia and his team recently released their sustainability plan for 2020 and 2021, Ramsay-Levi gave us one of the most poignant statements around the talk: “We cannot waste materials as we already pollute too much. But we can’t even waste creativity“.
“The waste is caused by a system that continually demands new products. A system that always wants innovations, “he says, underlining how the fashion shows represent a moment for his team to express their creativity while the pre-collections are the ones with the greatest longevity from the sales point of view. “It is a waste of creativity. The silhouettes we create have too little time to break through people, then they are discounted and lose value “.
“I think fashion houses now have the opportunity to stop, reflect and make concrete proposals for a new business model. Buying can no longer be a meaningless impulsive act. It is an act that sanctions being part of a community. I know for sure that the next purchase I will make must be something significant. “
Charbit agrees and believes that supporting design should be the goal main both for Balenciaga and for the CEOs of other luxury brands. “We are here to support a vision. We are not a company motivated by retail or marketing. We are a design-driven fashion house; I think it is important to reiterate it. We [CEO] we need to give more space e put creativity at the center of everything. Sales and results will come as a consequence but they are not the main objective “.
How can smaller brands survive and succeed?
“It is not just a question of money but of ideas and creativity”, Continues Charbit. “We all have different identities and we must remain true to ourselves by making greater use of technologies as an expressive medium. This is my mantra, my advice for anyone of us who wishes to continue existing in the world of tomorrow. If you are in tune with the values you represent in the time you live you will be successful“.
The idea of a more inclusive and digital future applies to all brands, large and small. “We have the possibility, after the crisis, of create a better fashion industry”, Says Charbit. “I think there is great hope in such a vision.”
The other Vogue Global Conversations
Register here for The Future of Brick and Mortar with Emanuele Farneti of Vogue Italia is The Vogue Man, Vittorio Radice of La Rinascente, Pete Nordstrom of Nordstrom and Pierre-Yves Roussel of Tory Burch – April 17th at 3pm
Due to the numerous requests, this talk will also be available in streaming on YouTube here.