Virtual Fashion Shows: To be or not to be?
By Jemi Ekunkunbor
Every year, around this time, fashion houses get busy as they prepare for the various fashion weeks; Heneiken Fashion Week, GT Fashion Week, Africa Fashion Week Nigeria, etc; platforms through which they showcase their new creations for the year ahead.
This year, a year like no other since this century, the coronavirus pandemic has put a stop to many human every day endeavours.
The annual fashion weeks which were once rallying points for designers, models, stylists, makeup artists, photographers, buyers and journalists, have been on lockdown in line with the COVID-19 protocol of maintaining social distancing.
While some international brands have gone virtual with hosting of shows, it is not exactly clear how Nigerian designers are faring since the lockdown.
With no show taking place due to COVID-19 protocol of social-distancing, what is the way forward for Designers? What should show promoters be doing now? Go virtual as the entertainment industry has done?
We opened a debate with designers who, when all things were equal, are headliners of fashion shows.
For now, virtual is the way to go – Frank Oshodi
As a designer that is into occasional wears, January and February is usually slow in terms of business. Just when we were about to start for our summer orders, the lockdown was put in place. So yes, business has been in its lowest ever till date.
However, three times, I have taken time to re evaluate the business in view of what the pandemic is doing to the world and prepare for the perceived new normal. I have also been resting, eating, boosting my immune system, social distancing too and at the same time, creating new ideas that should bring in the orders. Meanwhile, we are still waiting for the promised government’s palliatives in support of the creative industry as proposed by the Minister of Information.
Fashion Designers are not all about fashion shows! There are bills to be paid so making money is a major part of the whole structure. Right now, designers are already creatively trying to make sales either via social media or directly to their clients. Making some money is very important right now. A lot of people are dependent on the designers.
On the way forward, a few designers have gone into virtual fashion shows which, for me, look like cartoons. I think it was invented out of the desperation and the desire to create something at that time. I believe many more inventions will come sooner than we know it. But Nothing can be compared to real models; showing real designers’ clothes on the runways. However, the social media platforms are still helping designers display their look books, Ad campaigns and all sorts of editorials. Right now, that is the way to go.
I strongly believe that in no time, we would be having real fashion shows again with proper safety measures put in place.
Virtual communication is the way forward – Lanre Da Silva Ajayi
“The world as we knew it, is not the same anymore. COVID-19 has affected the way we do business, interact, and our livelihood. It certainly has not been easy adjusting to the new normal. But individuals always find a way out to thrive, survive in difficult times, take each day as it comes, remain hopeful and optimistic of good times ahead.
With no show taking place due to COVID-19, the fashion industry has to take a different approach in the way business is done and coordinated. We now have to digitalize, going forward, to stay afloat; and technology will play an integral part in our operations. We must look into virtual fashion shows as an alternative in this current time, using apps like zoom, pursuing E-commerce, make use of virtual Look books, 360 Look books, and Live streaming to interact and connect with our customers.
For the time being, virtual communications is the way forward to stay connected, and interact with a wider audience.
We must go virtual to be relevant – Ejiro Amos Tafiri
It’s been quite challenging generally, socially, mentally and businesswise. It’s been a time of introspective reflection, learning and unleashing in a bid to survive and thrive in spite of the pandemic. During the total lockdown, my team and I committed to producing 2,000 facemasks which we shared to the Police, LASTMA and the less-privileged; especially mothers and children through state healthcare centres. I also committed to taking classes to widen my horizon as well as speaking on multiple panels and classes; sharing my experience and knowledge. In all, I’ll say I’m doing okay.
With no show taking place, we had to figure out ways to reach the client; new methods of presentation and association. Everything is migrating online and fashion will have to rely heavily on this medium. Social media; newsletter, virtual runways will be some of the mediums we would use
I absolutely believe we should go virtual. The world has changed and we should change along with it to remain relevant. Even when events are permitted in these times, it will be with minimal attendance and capacity. If they’ll hold physical events, they’ll need to commit to making such presentations virtually available to be viable and successful.
Virtual show is the new normal – Ugo Monye
Immediately the lockdown started, business was on full stop; no event, no church, no outings. So for the first two months, I did not work on any new order but was just strategising on what is to come. It was also a wakeup call for me because I realised that people only saw my store as one you only visit when it is time for a big occasion. So, the lockdown, for us, was a time to re-strategise and come up with new designs and a new direction.
The way forward really is virtual fashion shows at least for now; until everything goes back to normal. I have already seen pretty, inspiring virtual shows, and was wondering in my mind why we never did it before now.
So, absolutely, virtual show is what should be because, for now, it’s the new normal, and it is cost effective. Even when the pandemic comes to an end, it’s still something that makes sense. Though, I know some high-end brands still planning physical (limited number) shows because of their brand experience; but of course, observing all necessary protocols as regards to the pandemic. Good luck to them. But I see it as all positives for me and no negative.
Show promoters should embrace virtual runway – Evans Ekere
The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on designers and the design world in general. Sales have declined ever since the outbreak. At the initial stage, it was really tough, because we had to shut down and sit at home. But much later, the government started to encourage us to produce facemasks, as a way of alleviating the hash effect on our businesses. Personally, the making of facemasks kept me busy and occupied during the total lockdown. But with the recent ease on restrictions, things are gradually starting to pick up.
The way forward for designers is to look for new ways and ideas to market their products. The internet and social media should be utilised. Most people have the time to go online these days.
Show promoters should embrace virtual runway shows; it’s something that will stay even after the pandemic. I also foresee a lot of fashion brands having their own virtual shows. It’s cheaper and less stressful.