After the Paris Haute Couture Week was streamed on the digital stratosphere, Vanessa Friedman of New York Times wrote, “Honestly, give me the runway. I never thought I would write those words… But what this whole digital experiment ultimately revealed is that, though music and movies have been using fashion to their own ends for decades now, reversing the equation doesn’t really work.” We talk to fashion enthusiasts back home to understand the future of virtual shows.
Entrepreneur Kalyani Chawla who has worked with a couture house for 12 years outlines the sustainability quotient. “I know the kind of staggering resources that go into a 10 minute show. Top models to sets, clients and celebrities flown in globally and the production itself. It’s phenomenal. A digital show can never replace the whole experience of being part of the real thing . The excitement of waiting and watching it live. But at a time where we are having serious issues and talking about the environment and sustainability, the industry needs to walk the talk. I feel the bigger houses will go back to showing at fashion weeks also to sustain thousands whose livelihood depend on these weeks and offcourse it is the norm to show the collection . But I feel the houses need to cut down on the number of shows per year and focus more digitally. The business of fashion should change to make a difference, ” explains Chawla.
However, fashion enthusiasts who have previously travelled for fashion weeks globally miss the visceral thrill and swoon at the end of a fashion week. The tactile feel of fabric, the glitter of sequins on runways, the momentary joy of stomping music in the background created a sense of nostalgia for many. “There is no substitute for being there for the show in person, the joy of seeing clothes in person is lost. Interacting with people, seeing the clothes, and the synergy a show brings can’t be there in images. Shows are much more than clothes, they are the universe of a designer,” says designer Nachiket Barve who agrees that the carbon footprint reduces and this is the need of the hour. Agreeing to this, stylist Aastha Sharma who travels to see the show so that she can procure garments for celebrities right off the runway says that digital shows are more experimental however they will take more time in converting to sales and sourcing. “It was easier to source or buy when you can see, touch and feel a product, now the decision making processes will take longer. The waiting time also will increase for a product. However the shows now have become more creative and this is an intelligent and easy way of putting collections forward,” says Sharma.