Avatar of Evelyn Mora by Paola Pinna

Helsinki Fashion Week’s upcoming July edition will be cyber as well as eco — the latest fashion week to go completely digital in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

But organizers had decided to move beyond a physical event in the Finnish capital and had engaged 3-D architects and 3-D designers well before the pandemic arrived on Europe’s doorstep.

“As an event, we are very unconventional. We are taking our audience to cyberspace,” said Evelyn Mora, founder of Helsinki Fashion Week, which made its debut in 2016 to spotlight sustainability. Asked for her portrait on Friday, Mora forwarded a playful image of her avatar, created by Paola Pinna, noting she plans to make avatars for all 15 participating designers.

Organizers have paired each sustainable fashion designer with a 3-D designer to create their collections. The event is expected to encompass 3-D fashion shows, interactive livestreams, cyber networking opportunities and other “interdisciplinary collaborations.”

“We will basically have a mixed-reality environment, meaning we will mix livestreams with 3-D designs,” said Mora, noting various corporate partners and tech sponsors would help participants digitize their presentations.

By contrast, Copenhagen Fashion Week and its concurrent trade events said this week it intends to go ahead and maintain its dates the first week of August “for the moment.”

Originally postponed, Shanghai Fashion Week recently forged ahead online, billing itself as the world’s first purely digital fashion week. It hinged on a program of consumer-facing content: Short films, chat shows, performances, and runway walks accompanied by QVC-like sales pitches. Some 150 brands showcased their fall 2020 collections while selling items from the current season via live-streaming to Tmall’s 800 million active users.

The Helsinki event is of a smaller scale, but with more advanced technology married to its eco ethos, including a thorough audit of the week’s environmental and human impact.

Mora stressed organizers are taking an “experimental approach” to the digital week, much like they did in 2018 when they created created an eco-village encompassing electric cars, solar power, catering provided with food waste, and sea water purified through a circular process to become drinkable.

Given the reach of the Internet, she expects a “huge” increase in the July event’s reach, estimating its 2019 physical edition generated about 400 million impressions.

“I’m as excited about the possibilities as I was with sustainable fashion,” she continued in an interview. “We really want to take the sustainability mindset to the digital environmental.”

Helsinki Fashion Week is scheduled for July 27 to Aug. 1. It will be preceded by a week of “designers in residence” content that was initially conceived to take place at an Alvar Aalto atelier, but will move to the digital sphere with an interactive, game-like approach, Mora noted.

Finnish and international designers were selected from hundreds of applicants. Participants include Tess van Zalinge from The Netherlands; Patrick Mcdowell and Nicole Zisman, U.K.; Open Plan, South Korea; Ali by Naushad Ali, India; and Helena Bajaj Larsen, Norway.

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