June 23, 2021

Fashion Week and Covid? Luxury Designers Move Catwalks Online

Luxury clothing houses have long valued direct personal interaction through their boutiques and fashion shows. Perusing the sumptuous goods in a shop, with a glass of champagne in hand, promises a superior consumer experience to the mundane act of ordering online, and sitting front row at a catwalk remains a coveted status symbol.

That’s why there’s more on display than the latest looks at the September fashion weeks that are getting under way in London, Milan and Paris. This year, they’re a proving ground for just how successfully the industry has reinvented itself for the age of social distancing to push its message and products through digital channels.

Burberry Group Plc’s show on Sept. 17 provided a snapshot of the challenges that await. A walk-up segment featured celebrities including supermodel Bella Hadid and soul artist Erykah Badu engaged in a halting conversation on the Twitch streaming platform. The actual show — without guests — was staged in a forest as a bold blend of postcard English country life and contemporary angst. Models stalked forth among the trees, while performance artists created a brooding backdrop that left some online viewers bewildered, calling it “satanic” and “creepy” in live-stream comments.

Amazon.com Inc.'s Twitch Livestreams Burberry Group Plc Fashion Show

The livestream broadcast of the Burberry’s S/ 2021 fashion show on Sept. 17.

Photographer: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg

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