LONDON — Let’s get physical.
That’s what more than 30 London Fashion Week brands and designers — including Christopher Kane, Erdem, Roksanda, Victoria Beckham, Molly Goddard, Osman and Simone Rocha — are proclaiming as they plan live shows, events or personal appointments to showcase their latest collections later this month.
On Friday, the British Fashion Council plans to publish the provisional calendar for this most unusual of seasons, and it features a mix of catwalk and salon shows, one-on-one appointments, live evening events and a host of digital presentations and activations.
This season, the BFC isn’t even referring to the showcase as “spring 2021,” but rather as “London Fashion Week September 2020” to reflect the wide variety of men’s, women’s and coed collections that will be on offer — much of it season-less — given the order cancellations and manufacturing delays that designers have had to endure since lockdown began in March.
The showcase, which runs from Sept. 17 to 22, will also be gender-neutral — similar to the all-digital London Fashion Week that took place in June.
As reported, the September showcase will start with Burberry’s livestreamed show on Sept. 17, which is set to take place outdoors and is open to the public. Richard Quinn will close the week with a film airing at 2:45 p.m. on Sept. 22, while Erdem will be doing appointments all that day.
The September events will have a decidedly local flavor with very few international visitors, as scores of countries remain on the U.K. quarantine list, including key fashion markets such as France, Spain, Switzerland, the U.S. and China.
Travelers arriving here from those countries would have to self-isolate for 14 days, or risk a fine. But people arriving from places such as Italy, Greece, Portugal, Germany, Hong Kong and Japan can travel freely to the U.K. — although those rules could change, depending on regional rises in COVID-19 cases.
The BFC said all live events will adhere to government guidelines on social distancing and hygiene.
The latest London schedule will host more than 80 designers, including 40 women’s wear names, 15 men’s wear ones, 20 coed labels and five accessories brands. There will be 50 digital-only activations, 21 physical and digital presentations and seven physical-only ones, while three designers will be staging physical evening events.
The online platform that launched during the June shows, londonfashionweek.co.uk, will continue to serve as the official digital hub for LFW in September and will be open to the public. The hub will host exclusive multimedia content from designers and brand partners, “enabling collaboration and bringing together fashion, culture and technology,” according to the BFC.
Designers will also be loading the LFW site with brand content, while JD.com and LFW ambassador Hu Bing plan to create films spotlighting three key British brands that have flagships on JD.com, and consumers will be able to shop those designers’ collections through the site.
In addition to Kane, Roksanda, Erdem, Beckham, Goddard, Osman, Rocha and Choi, designers and brands planning physical events this season include Bethany Williams, David Koma, Edeline Lee, Emilia Wickstead, Halpern, Preen by Thornton Bregazzi and Temperley London. Other names, including JW Anderson, Bianca Saunders, Edward Crutchley, Hillier Bartley, Phoebe English, Stephen Jones Millinery and Vivienne Westwood will present their collections digitally.
The BFC said that, for a second season, it will be working with Joor to provide digital wholesale sales services for designers.
IBM has joined LFW as an official partner, helping to optimize the digital experience and enable designers to showcase their stories through multimedia content.
The BFC has moved quickly to accommodate designers during the COVID-19 crisis, whipping together an emergency fund, and mounting a digital fashion week — open to the public — in June, replacing the annual men’s spring showcase, which was canceled due to lockdown.
The industry still faces “enormous challenges due to the impact of COVID-19,” and the BFC said it continues to call on the British government to support the sector, which in 2019 contributed 35 billion pounds to the U.K. economy, and employed more than 890,000 people, according to Oxford Economics.
LFW is one of the few international events that’s still going ahead in a physical format, with many trade fairs and exhibitions across a variety of industries shifting to online or postponing their events until next year.