Digital Fashion Week vs. An Actual Runway: What Design Students Should Know About It

Digital Fashion Week VS An Actual Runway: What Design Students Should Know About It

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, some designers were questioning the impact of the six or so fashion weeks that take over the world of fashion each year. A few rebellious souls were also bringing to the fore the effect these shows have on the environment. There was already talk – albeit in hushed tones – of digital events to capture the world that has now shifted to social media by a considerable margin.

Well, the pandemic has made it clear that a virtual fashion isn’t a pipe dream. The question is whether fashion students should expect things to go back as they were once we have dealt with this pandemic.

The Experience on an Actual Runway

There are things that may be hard to replicate online; like the energy in a room when designers present their work. The anticipation for modes and the audience is palpable. Most people who experience these fashion weeks call the feeling ‘unforgettable.’ That energy would be impractical to expect during fashion week online.

During these events, there is usually a lot of running around for models, designers, reporters, and everyone contributing in any way. While it certainly impacts the environment, this movement can also be exciting and quite eye-opening for design students. There are lessons at these events that you may not learn from online research or a class. World-class designers may be hard to pin down as they are busy organizing the event of their lives, but a keen student gets to see them at work or at least on the streets. Aspiring models too get to see their idols on stage and even appreciate what may be coming to them when they work hard, and this would be taken away by a digital show as was this year.

Now Digital Fashion Shows

That having been said, some aspects of the digital show are coming out that might be great for future talent. For starters, young people have been the stars of these fashion shows ideas even if from behind the scenes. They are being given a platform to showcase their talents in ways they couldn’t in the past, as actual shows are way too expensive. They now have the avenue to show the world what they can do because they only need to produce prototypes that can then be reproduced later on-demand.

Even though digital runways may lack the atmosphere of an actual show, with the development of VR-technology one may be able even to touch and feel the actual clothes. Similarly as before students had to find all the information on their own, now they can use helping tools such as the CSE citation machine to properly handle all the assignments. If current experiments with developing artificial skin that helps you feel in VR succeed, an actual runway can be recreated with a lot less effort and fewer costs, allowing design students to demonstrate their projects as if in the real world.

The environmental impact of fashion weeks has also been brought to the fore more than once, and even louder now that schools are spreading awareness so people know the role they can play in reducing emissions. There are lots of back-and-forths travels to capture and cover these events, and so having them online reduces the need to move. College students on a budget can also now attend a show that would usually be way out of their reach, so this shift is a plus for the younger designer.

Another plus that was evident on digital fashion week was the attention paid to each designer. Since there were fewer models showing, each was paid enough attention. Again, this was great for upcoming designers who may not usually get the same applause as their more seasoned counterparts.

Similarities Between the Two

Great clothes were showcased, as is always the case with fashion week. Fashion critics didn’t shy off from talking about presented pieces, and there was a buzz around the event that aroused the spirits of fashion lovers. Clothes and new designs, just like music, bring together people from all parts of the world, and this digital event managed to make us forget about the present even for a few days. That happens every year in the big cities where these fashion shows are held.

Lessons for Design Students

Away from essays and homework, design students have a lot to do practically to keep up with the changing world of fashion, but the tone of the digital fashion week shows creativity is always rewarded. One of the things that came up during and after the event was the longevity of fashion cycles. Designers are being challenged to come up with timeless pieces so that future shows can be reduced to two per year. There is also talk of garments being more durable than the average three-year lifespan, but even better for current students would be to design masterpieces from recycled material.

Another takeaway from the virtual fashion show was for inclusivity, where extremely talented designers from various parts of the world have lacked representation for not having the funds to show their clothes physically. 3D printing came into play and captured the beautiful journeys of marginalized designers. Young design students were shown endless possibilities of places they can apply their education. Also, we learned that the internet can be quite a good teacher if you pay attention and know where you look. Ultimately, you don’t have to break the bank to show the world what you can achieve in design.


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