In a video by designer Louis Gabriel Nouchi Spring / Summer 2021, made for the Paris digital men’s fashion week, actors – including some from the esteemed Comédie-Française theater – read quotes from Albert Camus’s Foreigners. “Many actors are unemployed because the theater is still closed. We can’t pretend nothing happened, “said the designer. Nouchi barely had time to finish his collection, and there was a cloth missing, because several Italian suppliers remained closed. But the video produced nearly 25,000 views on YouTube and the brand gained more than 400 new followers on Instagram, the same boost that was received after physical shows.

Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode The first digital fashion week for men and the SS21 couture has been widely praised by the industry. The French fashion agency event will be followed by Milan’s digital offering from July 14 to 17, which will include five films from creative material including Willy Vanderperre and Juergen Teller for Prada. Both will return to physical shows in September, as well as London Fashion Week.

Dior Spring / Summer 2021 Men’s Clothing.

© Jackie Nickerson / Dior

“The digital format allows designers to tell their stories differently and explore their DNA and be better equipped for a world where social media is dominant,” explains Laure Hériard Dubreuil, founder and creative director of multi-brand luxury retailer The Webster. Consensus: digital programming fulfills its mission to maintain mode on radar when it can take a back seat. There is some frustration between editors and buyers especially regarding the feeling that clothing is sometimes an addition to the event. But industry players as a whole praised the digital platform for giving exposure to young designers and offering a variety of editorial content.

Measuring social media traction is the key. Data is currently not available for the Paris trading group’s platform but already the power of arms and marketing of large houses helps to attract large audiences. Louis Vuitton’s video, starring an animated character named “The Adventures of Zoooom with his friends by Virgil Abloh” gathered 2.8 million views in less than four days on YouTube, plus 1.2 million on InstagramTV. In comparison, the London Fashion Week digital platform has 166,000 page views and 61,000 unique visitors from 11 to 24 June.

The Virgil teaser video “is one of the most popular YouTube videos about fashion shows in home history,” said Tony Pinville, chief executive and co-founder of visual data firm Heuritech. The collection will be displayed later this year. “In comparison, the backstage video of the SS19 male show garnered 2.3 million views in two years,” Pinville said, noting that some houses also have their own players and that viewers can watch live on home websites and social media rather than through the Paris Platform .

Creativity is below the limit

Loewe, who offers creative answers to current constraints, won praise from the industry at large. Creative director Jonathan Anderson collaborated with the graphic design duo M / M to develop the concept of “show in a box”, inspired by the work of Marcel Duchamp Box-in-suitcase, or the box in the suitcase. Loewe sent 2,185 boxes to people in a fashion that contained all the details of the show in one box: sets, music, patterns, materials to be reconstructed, and Anderson explained the concepts and creations in the corresponding video. That was accompanied by 24 hours of editorial programming on Instagram.

Damien Paul, head of MatchesFashion men’s clothing, described Loewe’s concept as “very smart”. “This box is tactile, informative about the collection and makes you really excited about the clothes, which ultimately become the role of a show, right?”

“Loewe is head and shoulders above everyone in terms of innovation and I love Jonathan’s personal touch,” said Ida Petersson, director of purchasing men’s and women’s clothing at Browns.

Loewe Spring / Summer 2021 Men’s Clothing.

© Loewe

Other designers show similar views into the creative process. “One thing you can’t do with fashion shows is to stop and explain where it came from,” Berluti’s creative director Kris Van Assche said in a video conversation with artist Brian Rochefort. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to really give people a background.” Dior, male artistic director Kim Jones and Ghana-born artist Amoako Boafo, meanwhile, detailed their collaboration in a video titled “Portrait of an Artist”.

Access behind the scenes is a highlight for Paul, adding that the weakness of the format is the struggle to get attention that is not a problem during live performances. “I would also say that with a few more mood presentations you need to show enough clothes so that your ‘concept’ does not drown fashion,” he said.

Overall, the mood is calm. “The flamboyant fashion show at the time was not good,” designer Rick Owens said in an interview with the Français de la Mode Institute professor Benjamin Simmenauer, which was broadcast on the platform’s “Events” section. “It’s a calm video. This is my personal private video that fitting in my studio calmly alone. There is humility and authenticity for that. “

“From a commercial standpoint, I like the digital format,” said Mytheresa’s purchasing director, Chris Kyvetos, who praised the videos of Rick Owens and also Mihara Yasuhiro. While Kyvetos has so far bought everything he normally buys, “what we can buy in terms of size and depth is affected because of the difficulty of preparation for some of our brands”.

Modern tailor silhouettes and wide pieces that are easy to wear stand out as a trend. “There is an easy and relaxed element that runs along,” Browns Petersson said. “Comfort seems to be the key word,” Hériard Dubreuil said. Forget sneakers, Kyvetos said: “Mules, loafers, slip-ons and moccasins have become post-sneaker luxury goods.”

New type of coverage

Calmer season requires calmer coverage. Spaces devoted to covering the Paris men’s season in the French daily newspaper Le Figaro is one page, compared to six for the regular fashion season. “We can name a whole short film but not dedicate a one-page review to it, especially because there are very few collections for SS21,” said Hélène Guillaume, editor in chief. “That’s only because designers can’t make products in the context of Covid-19, in part because of a lack of fabric.”

“Overall we received less press coverage than usual but still good results, which surprised me,” said PR teacher Lucien Pagès who represented brands including Lemaire, Études, Phipps and Loewe. “Paris remains at the forefront of leadership for the fashion industry.”

The Adventures of Zoooom with friends by Virgil Abloh.

© Louis Vuitton

This season is an opportunity to try a new format. Some influencers came up with the idea of ​​digital chat where they reviewed live video. “I think how sad it is to watch a show alone and not be able to discuss it in real time with someone’s neighbor from a seat,” Monica de La Villardiere said. “Why not reproduce this digitally and open it so everyone can follow along?” Prada has since asked him to become the official direct commentator during the show on July 14.

Not all brands want to put their concepts in the video. On August 6, Louis Vuitton will hold a physical show in Shanghai, which will travel to Tokyo and other cities before the end of the year. Virgil Abloh marked the launch of this trip by presenting a blockbuster teaser with animated characters.

Before Paris Fashion Week returns physically in September, all eyes will be on the much-awaited Jacquemus show on July 16 outside Paris, the first post-locking physical performance. Around 100 guests are expected to attend the event in person, with all necessary sanitation requirements.

Kati Chitrakorn contributed reporting this section.

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