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Chanel Unveils Its Resort Collection on Instagram: Can Virtual Runways Replace the Real Thing?

Chanel is the latest brand to embrace the new digital way of doing things. Creative director Virginie Viard today unveiled her resort ’20/’21 collection on Instagram and Chanel’s own website.

The physical show had been set to take place in Capri, Italy last month but was cancelled due to the pandemic.

The virtual version was presented in the form of a short film. The video which starred a diverse lineup of models — Mica Arganaraz, Karly Loyce, Camille Hurel and Cris Herrmann — appeared to have been shot on location in Capri. However, it was actually the result of technical wizardry in Chanel’s Paris photography studio.

According to Viard, all the fabrics and buttons came from existing Chanel stock, due to challenges with the label’s supply chain. She even pulled denim pieces and accessories — such as a wicker beach bag — from the spring collection currently in store.

Chanel Resort
Chanel Resort 2020/2021
CREDIT: Chanel

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Next up, the brand will participate in Paris digital couture calendar on July 7, and it is hoping to resume physical show in October — albeit, perhaps, on a smaller, more intimate scale than previously.

But the big question remains: Will fashion week ever return to normal?

Last month, FN asked fashion industry heavyweights Tommy Hilfiger, Sergio Rossi and Browns Fashion whether digital can replace the fashion week experience.

Now innovators, analysts and PR consultants are weighing in.

THE DIGITAL PULSE TAKER: Tagwalk

Tagwalk is a fashion search engine which allows users to search for models, trends, accessories and fashion shows via keywords. It also leverages its data to issue seasonal reports providing deep dive analysis into the industry zeitgeist.

Alexandra van Houtte, CEO: “I think the industry needs to adapt itself to what consumers are doing the most: browsing, social media, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and TikTok.

Diversity Matters: “These channels create a great way to include a huge, eclectic casting that corresponds to a variety of shapes, personalities and sizes, so that people can really identify with a brand. It would be like doing a set design for a show, but in a video production with incredible music and characters.”

New Look: “Perhaps this will also allow brands to communicate with wider audiences and expand their exposure. I find the shows a little tedious and this whole row scenario a little boring.”

Get Real: “While there has to be a balance, I think this pandemic has brought out the needs of the consumer, which is authenticity. In fact, one of the most searched phrases on Tagwalk is ‘real people’: tall models, older models, curvy models, those with differently colored hair. I always find it a bit weird when a brand only includes two ‘curvy models’ in their shows. Are their clients all a size 34?”

SILICON VALLEY START-UP: The Yes

The Yes is a new shopping app launched in May ’20. It determines a user’s personal style through simple yes / no questions so search results can be tailored to individual algorithms. 

Taylor Tomasi Hill, creative director: “With a little creative restructuring, a lot of shows and presentations could be replaced by virtual experiences. However, there are a handful of shows in each city that set the tone for the season. In an ideal world, those will come back in some form or fashion.”

Less is more: “It’s also important that we restructure the calendar to include more in-person showroom visits and spend less money and time schlepping all over town to larger shows. We should also question viewing new collections four to five times a year.”

Showrooms over shows: “It’s the job of influencers, writers, buyers, tastemakers, personal shoppers, and editors to recommend products that they have personally seen, felt, and often tried on, so the showroom appointments are irreplaceable. How can I recommend products, especially from brands I’ve never tried on? As an editor and buyer, it was always more important for me to be in the showrooms instead of the shows. I would schedule my travel days in specific parts of the city so I could hit up 10-12 showrooms a day and perhaps one show that was in that part of town. It’s a much more realistic way to see as much product as possible.”

Rethink retail: “Twice a year with monthly or even bi-monthly deliveries makes a lot more sense with markdowns in January and July to make way for a fresh assortment of products.”

THE TREND FORECASTER: Heuritech

Heuritech is a Paris based digital trend forecasting platform that uses AI technology and image recognition software to analyze images posted on social media.

Julie Pont, creative director: “While this is certainly a very interesting moment, you could actually say that digital fashion weeks have been happening for years. The runways are very digital already, with livestreaming and the fact that so many influencers attending the shows already share video and images captured via their phones.”

Reinvent and Recycle: “In addition to creating new technology, it’s also about readapting technology that’s already in use — just not in the way it was originally devised. For instance, the 360-degree ‘matrix’ technology used by digital showrooms like Ordre has already been around for over a decade.”

Everyone’s Equal: “There are no limits in the digital world, you can show clothes that don’t actually exist in real life. An increased use of digital platforms and technology will benefit smaller designers with fewer financial resources to pay for expensive shows. It will also give independent labels the ability to work at the same level as larger concerns so we’ll have a more equal playing field where it’s more about creativity than money. We run a program for emerging labels and independent designers to give them access to our webinars and trend reports.”

Strike a Balance: “I’m sad for haute couture and the artisans who work in the ateliers — you don’t want those skills to be erased. Also when I’m looking for inspiration, I have to go out and see people, attend shows, visit showrooms and actually touch products and materials. So I’m not confident that fashion can solely rely on the digital to get the message across. There needs to be a balance between the two.”

 

VIRTUAL PRESS DAY LEADER: KCD Worldwide

Last month, KCD spearheaded the digital press day concept via Instagram with three dedicated private accounts for U.S., U.K. and French media.

Rachna Shah, partner and managing director for digital: “With the advent of digital, the objective of the live fashion show shifted to create content generated by the brand, by the audience and by the participants.”

Content is King: “In thinking of alternative solutions, there is an opportunity to create new types of content, or something specifically made for each platform. The fact that the platforms are giving brands more in-depth capabilities to engage with them is so helpful for each to maximize the reach of the content they create.”

Best of Both: “We’re all so familiar with Instagram, so when it came to our digital press day, we thought it was a much more efficient medium than using a website. The accounts showcased key styles and top news for each brand on a regional basis, using both Instagram grid and Story functions. We followed up with one-to-one calls and video conferencing — and hosted a meeting with GQ magazine via Zoom.”

Back to the Future: “Instagram is a great platform to work with, and editors are really engaging with it so we are also exploring the medium for the production side of our business as well. We actually experimented with this idea in 2013 when we launched a digital platform as an opportunity for brands who had secondary collections, such as Prabul Gurung. Now, we are actively speaking with clients, platforms and technology experts regarding opportunities on how to support our brands and amplify collections.”

kcd, digital press day
A screenshot of the KCD New York private Instagram homepage.
CREDIT: Courtesy of KCD

THE MULTIMEDIA MAVEN: Ritual Projects

The Paris based public relations consultancy and street wear specialist has recently opened a U.S. branch in Los Angeles. Core clients include Area, Sankuanz, GMBH and Y/Project.

Robin Meason, founder: “I personally don’t think it’s possible yet to replace the energy you feel at a physical fashion show or presentation via digital platforms. However, you can still create an engaging, meaningful contact with your audience.”

The Global Eye: “Digital platforms allow more freedom in a sense because there are more dimensions to simultaneously express the collection, the brand identity and the designer’s vision across different communities and regions. There’s also a certain novelty to this medium for the moment that gives it freshness and fun. However, you lose the organic energy and human connection you get from physical happenings.”

A Multilayered Approach: “I have always felt the need for both formats of expression. It feels even more complete to have multiple layers to convey a story or feeling. A physical event could take place in sync with digital elements within a space and around the world.”

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