sustainability, fashion, fashion week, Paris, Milan, New York, VR

Fashion week leaders from Shanghai, Paris, London, Milan and New York will unite for the first time in virtual reality at Circular Fashion Summit this October.

The two-day, 360-degree interactive virtual event will be held Oct. 3 to 4 by technology platform Lablaco, officially on the Paris Fashion Week agenda, in partnership with AltSpaceVR by Microsoft.

Panelists in this opening roundtable conversation include Pascal Morand, executive president of Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode; Caroline Rush, chief executive officer of the British Fashion Council; Carlo Capasa, president and ceo of the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana; Steven Kolb, president and ceo of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, be and Lv Xiaolei, vice secretary-general of Shanghai Fashion Week.

The opening panel will be moderated by Burak Cakmak, former dean of Fashion at Parsons School of Design, and Shaway Yeh, founder of Yehyehyeh.

They will discuss sustainability and the new fashion system post-pandemic, navigating the available tools and suggestions that may help to “renew the pace of fashion weeks,” according to Lorenzo Albrighi, Lablaco’s founder and co-ceo.

Circular Fashion Summit, which in September was physically held at Station F in Paris, to bring circularity to new heights, embedding sustainability and zero-waste practices into the core of the programming, be it negating carbon flight footprints, physical event production impact or building value into the Oculus VR headsets year-round with subscription package options.

With a focus on collective action, the event is not only targeting policymakers, such as government and industry insiders, but also academia and any individuals with the hope of making a positive impact within the fashion industry.

Tickets range from 399 euros for a student rate to 1,999 euros for executive rates, which includes private roundtable discussions, for the CFS 2020 VR edition. The organization will be adding additional options for those wishing to rent equipment or for those who already own a headset.

As Albrighi affirms, the value doesn’t end with one VR conference or single-use of the headset; it’s a “brand new networking experience” with added value thereafter. By providing a new VR model via subscription, CFS has started digitizing higher education too, in which consulting firms and universities are already weighing the impact.

“Our collaboration with CFS is the next step for us in reshaping how we teach innovation and sustainability,” said Patti Brown, director of global MBA and MsC of ESSEC Business School in Paris. The school will develop VR learning with CFS this year, perhaps comparable to The New School’s VR research lab The XReality Center, which launched two years ago.

Until recently, the extent to which virtual experiences have been seen as crucial or unconvincing has been decided on a case-by-case basis and mostly by brands.

Albrighi made it a point to describe how truly nascent the VR fashion community is at present, saying: “If you were to do a gamer conference, no problem. In the gaming industry, almost everyone has a VR headset.”

Fashion is a historically analogue industry with a different adoption curve, but Albrighi argues it is the perfect grounds for experimentation given the ongoing digital disruption exacerbated by the pandemic.

PwC also finds the economic and educational value of VR/augmented reality learning and development to be a “compelling VR use case” with the potential to contribute $294 billion to the global economy by 2030.

In the same June report, the firm found employees trained using VR learned faster, were more focused, confident and emotionally connected. And the technology was found to be more cost-effective at scale.

Synthesizing the market opportunity, Albrighi restates the lofty goal: “A new circular fashion experience which is beyond digital.”