INNOVATION DRIVES FASHION FORWARD

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Dialogue Should Not Be Limited: Prada Launches “Possible Conversations”, A New Live Stream Project

April 17,2020

Italian fashion brand Prada is kicking off a new Instagram live streaming project “Possible Conversations”, a series of live digital talks exploring culture, fashion, art and life bringing together practitioners, experts, directors and creatives from the fields of fashion, art, architecture, film and thought.

The first talk, on "Fashion in Times of Crises", took place on April 14 at 6pm CET between Pamela Golbin, author, curator and artistic director of Jacquard x Google Arts & Culture Residency and Alexander Fury, fashion features director of AnOther Magazine and men’s critic at the Financial Times. The whole live stream was about 30 minutes long, and users on Instagram were able to send questions. Speakers were able to choose the topics that the users were most interested in discussing.

During this COVID-19 pandemic period, the topic of "Fashion in Times of Crises'' is highly relevant to everyone’s current situation. Common perception positions COVID-19 as a war, with corresponding questions emerging on how it will affect the fashion industry, and how the fashion industry will react.

Pamela Golbin argued that, at this moment, it is always nice to look back on the history of how things have evolved and what innovations were made during these times of crisis. In many ways, the current crisis is just like World War I, World War II, and the global financial crisis in 2008. We will, according to Golbin, not only witness fashion’s resilience, but also how it provides creative solutions. Fashion has a role to play, not only to inspire, but also to help people in their daily challenges. During COVID-19, we have seen many luxury brands turn their factories’ attention to producing masks, hand sanitizers, and other critical supplies.

COVID-19 will definitely accelerate change across different levels of society, with every single aspect of the fashion system being impacted during this period as well -- from design to production to distribution. Further, fashion companies will need to rethink their priorities -- focusing more on themes of sustainability, recycling, and on how much fashion or how many seasons we truly need. These changes will emerge more clearly in the following months.

A Crisis, But Also An Opportunity

According to the British Fashion Council (BFC), 35% of young and upcoming designers will not be able to continue their businesses past the summer due to the COVID-19 situation. The BFC  also predicted that half of the entire industry could cease to exist by the end of 2020.

However, if we look back at the 2008 financial crisis, when most people were advising against starting new businesses, we saw many young talented designers emerging such as Christopher Kane and JW Anderson in London. It is perhaps because of this kind of shift and breakdown of old ideas and old rules that young talent can grow.

Another example is  World War II. At that time, many American buyers were not able to go to Europe, and instead had to showcase American designers for the first time. This represented an incredible opportunity for American designers to finally be recognized. These circumstances are about seizing opportunity, about being proactive and innovative, and focusing on the creative input and outputs that are needed.

Digital Revolution During a Pandemic

One of the biggest effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on the fashion industry is that fashion shows cannot open normally. The public is curious about how fashion brands will showcase their products during this period of time.

Live streaming has already become a new way for fashion brands to showcase their new collections, to wit, luxury brand Giorgio Armani live streaming its Fall 2020 MFW Fashion Show in an empty theater in Milan; Shanghai Online Fashion Week, and LV and Nike live streaming their new products on Little Red Book. Fashion brands are rapidly exploring new digital channels to adapt to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pamela Golbin pointed out that this way of holding fashion shows has already hit a tipping point that starts from a small group and rapidly becomes a spectacular event involving thousands of people (including buyers, media, influencers and celebrities). Crises help to accelerate widespread change and present the chance for businesses to reinvent themselves. This change will not only affect the fashion industry, but also film, cinema, museums and more.

With modern digital tools, brands not only need to learn how to promote and market new products, but also to consider how to convey the brand's story, value and spirit to audiences.

The next  “Possible Conversation” will be on Tuesday, April 21 at 6pm CET, when Francesco Vezzoli and Emanuele Coccia will explore the topic of “Love in the Time of Coronavirus”.

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