Global ‘Fashion Week’ shows go virtual

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Kezjahree Wingate

A modeling job by DePaul student Kezjahree Wingate, who would be walking in New York Fashion Week if not for the pandemic.

Fashion Week showcases the latest designs and collections from world-renowned designers, brands, and fashion “houses.” Typically, Fashion Week is extremely exclusive. An individual must have tickets that are quite hard to obtain in order to see the show live. However, this year, due to the pandemic, the “Big Four” fashion week shows — Paris, Milan, London and New York — are all going virtual and this week, the Fall 2021 show kicked off in New York.

It has not exactly been easy to get the show and its participants to go virtual. America’s “Big Four” representative, New York, has been having issues with fashion week since 2020. Savannah College of Art and Design graduate Chelsea Ann Zockoll, who currently works with designer Boo Gemes in Florida, said that she was supposed to go to New York Fashion Week in 2020, that is until the Covid-19 pandemic began. 

Zockoll will be attending virtually this year and is looking forward to all of the more “basic trend designers…” Moschino, Gucci and Louis Vuitton were a few on her list. “I also love looking for new and interesting designers that may be showing for the first time,” Zockoll said. “I know a couple of peers from SCAD that are showing in NYFW this year.”

More new designers in the industry are being given a chance to showcase their work due to designers and brands like Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren and quite a few other big names opting out of the show yet again this year. These designers have decided to skip the spring season and not drop new collections. Michael Kors told Vogue Magazine that he has “for a long time thought that the fashion calendar needs to change.” The current schedule has left many designers feeling too rushed. 

The designers aren’t the only ones changing things because of the pandemic. 

“I really have noticed a big change in the industry,” Zockoll said. “People are becoming more creative, which is a huge plus. They are learning to work individually, adapting to the world around us, and learning to become more digital, which is where the fashion world is headed.” 

A modeling job by DePaul student Kezjahree Wingate, who would be walking in New York Fashion Week if not for the pandemic. (Kezjahree Wingate)

Models in the industry are also having to adapt. DePaul senior Kezjahree Wingate, originally from New York City, has walked in a total of 10 runway shows. Wingate began modeling in 2018 when she was introduced to some models in Chicago who taught her the ropes and helped her walk in her first show. Since then she has walked in nine shows in Chicago and, right before the pandemic, walked for the Anthony Shae collection in New York City. 

Like most American models, Wingate has always wanted to participate in NYFW and said it is actually quite easy so long as you know a designer in the show. 

“I think the best opportunity for me to have participated in New York Fashion Week would have been this current year, but with the pandemic hitting pretty hard, I didn’t want to jeopardize my health,” Wingate said. “I still hope that after I graduate I will have the chance to participate in NYFW because throughout all of my experiences I have come to know a lot of designers in Chicago and [I am] hoping to work more with New York City designers once I return home.”

The fashion industry may be experiencing challenges and changes, but those that contribute to it continue to look for the bright side. 

Stylist and author Barri Leiner Grant believes that NYFW going virtual may actually prove to be quite beneficial, stating that she believed the virtual fashion show will perhaps “be an added and exciting element…” 

“[It will] make us rethink the cost of shows and those who travel to shows,” Leiner Grant said. 

When asked what she thought would be lacking due to virtual shows, Leiner Grant added, “We will likely miss the energy and feel of the fabrics. But we have come to welcome so much virtually now — perhaps it will be fresh.”  

New York Fashion Week takes place Feb. 14-18 this year. Oversized shoulder pads, boyfriend jeans, the color yellow, bold eye looks to stand out with face masks, headscarves and countless other trends have been predicted for Spring 2021. You can catch up on things you have missed and tune in to live shows on NYFW.com and Runway360. 

If you are craving more fashion after that, London Fashion Week will take place Feb. 19-23, Milan Fashion Week; Feb. 23-March 1, and Paris Fashion Week; March 1-9. While some parts of the shows will still be offline to maintain exclusivity, a good majority of all four shows will be available to the general public online.

Depending on attendance, virtual shows may just end up being the future of fashion week.