Why Copenhagen Fashion Week’s New Phygital Format Is Important for the Future of Fashion Shows

This week, Copenhagen Fashion Week announced that the event, due to take place Aug. 9 to 12 will embrace a new hybrid format of both virtual and physical shows. As the first of the post pandemic fashion weeks to stage live events, it is sure to garner major attention from the entire fashion industry who will be watching eagerly to see how it plays out.

While the Danish city is not traditionally considered one of the big four fashion capitals, it has cool appeal in spades and is also well know for its high sustainability credentials.

Last month the organizers also announced a slight date change for the August edition. It was previously due to commence a few days earlier from Aug. 4 to Aug. 7. The reasoning behind the shift was because, as of Aug. 8, the Danish government is to lift its ban on gatherings of over 200 people. The new regime will allow gatherings of up to 300 standing and 500 seated guests.

Copenhagen Fashion Week stalwarts including Rains and Soulland have already said they intend to stage physical presentations while By Malene Birger, Stine Goya and Baum und Pferdgarten have stated they will go the virtual route. Ganni is planning on a hybrid event and other brands currently confirmed on the 34 label lineup include Brøgger, Nynne, Gestuz, British label Rixo and fashion girl favorite ready-to-wear and shoe brand, Custommade.

No news as yet from another of the week’s star turn’s Cecilie Bahnsen though. The designer, who announced her pregnancy earlier this year, might just sit this one out. Bahnsen, known for her etherial bubble dresses has collaborated with cult Japanese sandal brand Suicoke for the last few summer seasons and also Italian sneaker label, Diemme, for fall.

Custommade, Copenhagen Fashion Week
Custommade, Fall ’20, Copenhagen Fashion Week
CREDIT: Copenhagen Fashion Week

“Although convinced that digital solutions can never replace the emotional and sensorial experience of seeing collections physically, this edition marks the kickoff of a new era for Copenhagen Fashion Week, where presenting and distributing shows digitally is now more crucial than ever. We’re extremely excited to see how this development can foster original creative material and cultivate new relationships with editors, buyers and consumers,” Cecilie Thorsmark, CEO of Copenhagen Fashion Week said in a statement.

The revamped digital platform will ensure that editors, buyers and consumers can access all material whether they are able to travel or not.

Denmark was among the first European countries to introduce lockdown measures, starting on Mar. 13 and, as such, appears to be recovering rapidly from the pandemic. Denmark’s government reopened its borders as of June 27. This currently applies to the majority of European Union countries.

According to SchengenVisaInfo.com, the main criteria in which Denmark has based the reopening of borders is the low number of Coronavirus infections and testing capacities.

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Travel will be eligible for open countries, which are considered to have fewer than 20 infected persons per 100,000 inhabitants per week. Currently, countries meeting the criteria include France, Greece, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.

Denmark’s Foreign Minister advises citizens not to travel to countries that imposed significant entry restrictions on Danes such as imposed mandatory quarantine, even if they meet the government’s criteria. Unnecessary trips to Ireland and the United Kingdom are discouraged.

“Over the past years we’ve put Copenhagen on the global fashion week map by giving our international guests an authentic Scandinavian fashion experience — right here in the capital city of Denmark. Now we’re expanding our digital universe to share this experience using a hybrid format that allows access to Copenhagen Fashion Week despite travel restrictions – and we hope to reach many new audiences,” said Thorsmark.

Cecilie Bahnsen X Suicoke
Cecilie Bahnsen X Suicoke, spring ’20, Copenhagen Fashion Week
CREDIT: Rex / Shutterstock

The upcoming edition of Copenhagen Fashion Week will have a centrally located physical hub, CPHFW Hub, to bring the industry together for social events, presentations, talks, interviews and more. As always, the physical shows and presentations on the official schedule will take place at unique venues specially selected by the brands.

“We strongly believe in the importance of being able to meet face to face. Fashion week is inherently a physical event, which is why we’re incredibly happy to be able to gather the industry at our new hub,” noted Thorsmark. “Jointly with the two fashion fairs, CIFF and Revolver, we’re creating an amazing fashion week that can help the fashion industry to move ahead.”

However, Thorsmark stressed that this does not mean returning to business as usual for live shows and presentations as precautions must be adhered to concerning social distancing.

“Brands with live showcases need to be flexible and adaptable in their planning. We will of course continue to act in accordance with the instructions and regulations of the Danish authorities and guide brands in taking the necessary safety measures during Copenhagen Fashion Week,” she said.

Cecilie Bahnsen, Copenhagen Fashion Week
Cecilie Bahnsen x Diemme, Fall ’20, Copenhagen Fashion Week.
CREDIT: Copenhagen Fashion Week

The decision to move fashion week from Aug. 4 to 7 to Aug. 9 to 12 was based on a close collaboration between Copenhagen Fashion Week, the trade fairs CIFF and Revolver, and the industry organizations Dansk Fashion & Textile (DM&T) and Wear.

“We’re fortunate that the Danish society is opening up much more quickly than expected, making it possible for us to hold Copenhagen Fashion Week very close to the originally scheduled dates. All of our activities will of course be set up to meet applicable regulatory requirements,” noted Thorsmark.

“We’ve received immense support from the Scandinavian fashion industry, as Copenhagen Fashion Week continues to be an important and much-needed platform for the industry’s sales, exports and international collaborations,” she added. “Maintaining the dates in the beginning of August is a decisive advantage for them, which is why we’re very pleased to announce the new dates.”

Ganni, Copenhagen Fashion Week
Ganni, Fall ’20, Copenhagen Fashion Week.
CREDIT: Copenhagen Fashion Week

To align the new hybrid format with industry needs, Copenhagen Fashion Week established a digital advisory board consisting of Ganni’s founder Nicolaj Reffstrup; Stine Goya’s CEO Thomas Hertz; Holzweiler’s creative director Susanne Holzweiler; Hope’s creative director Frida Bard; and the creative agency MOON’s CEO Martin Gjesing.

“With such insightful and knowledgeable industry leaders on board, we feel confident that the design of the upcoming Copenhagen Fashion Week fits the industry’s current circumstances,” Thorsmark concluded.

Meanwhile Paris and Milan’s digital men’s fashion weeks will take place next month.

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