Olivier Rousteing from Balmain, Natacha Ramsay-Levi from Chloe and Cedric Charbit from Balenciaga shared their thoughts with Nicole Phelps on the second day of the “Vogue” Global Talk.
On Tuesday, the first day ModeVirtual Global Talk Conference, Marc Jacobs lamented how fashion shows might not be the same post-pandemic. Today, Balmainthis Olivier Rousteing, Chloéthis Natacha Ramsay-Levi and Balenciaga CEO Cedric Charbit grappling with the question: What is the future of the runway?
Mode Runway Nicole Phelps open the conversation by acknowledging that the value of fashion shows has already ready for debate pre-pandemic, the reasons included the carbon footprint they produce, financial costs they incur and the time commitment they need. In the moderated discussion, fashion designers and executives reflected on what had been presented runway presentations for their respective brands, what alternatives they had considered and what problems they had found with the “traditional” format, even before coronavirus.
Rousteing has considered opening its Balmain event to the public in a certain way, he told Phelps, in an effort to make the brand more inclusive of its audience. And, as the editor pointed out, he has long understood social media usage and experience in digital storytelling. However, he pondered what kind of balance was between physical activation and virtual ones. “I fully agree on the part that we need to have experience,” he said. “I know that after this confinement, I want to create something on the streets, I want to restore togetherness, for sure.”
Charbit issued a number to illustrate the importance of having a digital component for his debut collection: Balenciaga was able to accommodate 600 guests at a fashion show; online, the show can reach 8,000 viewers on Youtube, 60,000 on Instagram and 300,000 on Twitter. “I want to ask myself and ourselves, ‘Is our audience physical or digital? Are they both?”
Ramsay-Levi acknowledged that the biennial fashion show was an opportunity for the Chloé team to express a full creative vision for a season, and to unite the community. (That brand Fall 2020 presentation featuring paintings by Rita Ackerman, a sculpture by Marion Verboomn and poetry of words from Marianne Faithfull – all women who inspired Ramsay-Levi.) However, there is a difference between the resources put into it and the returns they see.
“There is a total dichotomy where we put creativity and where we put business,” he said. “The way the fashion modeling business model has been carried out must stop. It must be completely reorganized.” Designers put a lot of time and effort into creating runway collections that might not spend a lot of time on the retail floor, to then jump back to work in pre-season, which is what really sells better, Ramsay-Levi explained: “Where You put your energy is where business value gets lower. “
Chloé’s creative director called on various organizations that oversee the fashion industry around the world – Camera della Moda in Italy, CFDA in the US, and French Fédération – to discuss this issue about how this collection is sold. “We need to re-evaluate the business value of the way the industry is made,” he argued. “We cannot waste material, but we cannot waste creativity … I feel buying is not a meaningless action, it is an act of being part of a community … We place too many products on the market with fast delivery. Always there’s this request about novelty, novelty, novelty, all the time – I think we need to rethink the way we buy collections. ”
From his perspective as CEO of a brand, Charbit agrees that “we need to challenge the status quo” when it comes to fashion shows. “What happened today was followers, fans, contributors, clients left outside the room. We have a number of chairs to invite clients to the show. We have improved [that] numbers during the season, but in a way that’s not really fair. “Technology allows more people to be brought into conversation, he continued, and for brand messages to be conveyed to a larger audience.” For me, it was very interesting that eventually fashion and technology merged and harmonized, because they needed each other. ”
For Rousteing, it might be a matter of rethinking what the physical experience of “fashion shows” are. You can showcase your new collection online, either by streaming the catwalk or curating the visuals in other ways, he argues; face-to-face programs, can be more entertainment-oriented – “make a great performance with artists and models.”
The way fashion shows have traditionally been done, “it’s about emotions,” said Rousteing. “I see [digital fashion shows as something] very different, because with digital, I can make my fashion show on the moon, in the sky, on the clouds if I want. I don’t see a little emotion, I understand [somewhere] You can push the dream to the next level. “
To watch and read about complete conversations, you can visit Mode.