Shanghai Might Save the (Fashion) World

When Shanghai Fashion Week and e-tailing juggernaut Tmall announced an entirely live-streamed, digital fashion week, it left many fashion councils scratching their heads. This online shift has drastically altered the very core on which fashion weeks were built — a physical space for buyers to preview new collections.

Instead, Shanghai’s “See Now, Buy Now” format will see more than 150 designers and brands use livestreaming to present over 1,000 products from their current and upcoming collections. Moreover, the core consumer focus, catering to a potential 800 million active users might have far-reaching implications on who future fashion weeks cater to. Shanghai’s online makeover could offer hope to an already jaded fashion week system challenged by the emergence of COVID-19 globally and increasing environmental pressures, most notably in travel.

How Showrooms Are Adapting

Just at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, Meimei Ding co-founder of DFO, and one of the leaders in Shanghai’s recent showroom boom, knew she had to react quickly given the company’s international remit. “We were under pressure to react sooner as we run a showroom in Paris, so we had plans in place even before the announcement from Shanghai. Our immediate response was a jump to digital, livestreaming and 5G.”

Ding is confident about the season given the company’s newly developed capabilities in livestreaming and successful results (it streamed or shared live videos for 22 brands during Paris Fashion Week including N°21 and Snow Xue Gao. Client interest more than doubled rising by 105% when compared to SS20). DFO will launch a new online showroom for this season as well as extended dates for extra security.

“We figured out livestreaming in Paris, so we have addressed all the issues, and after core training, it’s just promoting, creating a variation in content, and readjusting and chasing our targets.” Initial predictions are high, too, as Ding reports DFO reached over 80% of its target from the Paris Fashion Week digital campaign and has extended sales deadlines to cater for increased demand.

Livestreaming’s figures are certainly on the rise in China. However, it is not a priority for all this season. Ying Zhang, CEO of NOT Showroom, will focus on video appointments from the end of March. She believes her bespoke one-to-one approach is the best way forward, “As the client in each case is so different, we want an individual approach. Also, if for some reason we can’t actually do our offline sales, we can still make sales.”