It may not be anything like previous editions, but we already know it will be one of the most influential. After London, New York and Milan, Paris is now beginning to get ready for its own fashion week, from 28th September to 6th October – the longest, most extensive and most creative. Almost 90 labels have elected to take part, with around 20 choosing to put on a physical catwalk show (whilst adhering to hygiene rules). The most prestigious labels will be there: Dior, Chanel, Vuitton, Hermès, Chloé, Balmain, Kenzo and more. There will also be up-and-coming talents such as the Georgian label Situationnist, the London-based Wales Bronner who won the 2016 LVMH prize, and the young South African rising star Thebe Magugu, who also won the LVMH prize. A reminder that, when it comes to fashion, Paris leads the way in terms of power as well as creative vitality.
Some labels will opt for digital formats or hybrid versions, with virtual catwalk shows and collections being presented in showrooms, enabling journalists and buyers to meet with the designers. The entire event has been orchestrated by the Fédération Française de la Couture et de la Mode which has been working hard since the spring to deal with the unprecedented impact of the pandemic, as explains its executive president Pascal Morand. "Fashion week online, set up in June, has been extremely popular and constitutes a dramatic shift in the way we show fashion. For this fashion week, we have extended the experience by putting together a calendar combining physical events with digital programmes."
The capacity to innovate has been crucial in view of how much is at stake for Paris fashion week. Some 300 catwalk shows bringing in around 1.2 billion euros a year for the capital, not counting the 10.3 billion sales that directly result from the event for the brands and designers. As these figures* confer on Paris – and France in general – the status of uncontested leader, the challenge now is to retain this position against the current challenging climate. "The strength of our Fashion Week largely lies in Paris itself, as a physical yet symbolic location," continues Pascal Morand. "The challenge will now be to assert this supremacy on a virtual level."
Reinforcing the capital's status in terms of business is also the role being played by major Parisian trade fairs, notably Who’s Next and Première Classe which will open on 2nd to 4th October despite the current situation, moving from its usual venue at Porte de Versailles to the Tuileries. This presence is crucial as it will enable ready-to-wear, accessories, beauty and lifestyle brands to present their collections to the entire French and international market. "We have maintained the event at our community's request. Now more than ever, buyers and sellers need these events to keep their businesses going," explains Frédéric Maus, managing director of the Who's Next group. Just like last year, the fair will also play host to Impact which concentrates exclusively on responsible fashion.
Paris also hopes to make its voice heard in this domain. Major French groups have already committed to the event, such as Kering, which launched an operation in April 2019 aiming to reduce the impact of the fashion industry on the climate, biodiversity and the oceans. The LVMH Life initiative sets out its aims based around CSR. Chanel has recently poured funds into financing initiatives to cut greenhouse gas emissions by half across its entire business, between 2018 and 2030.
This autumn, Paris will also play host to an ambitious operation created by Paris Goodfashion, a non-profit organisation created in 2019 with one sole mission: to make Paris the capital of responsible fashion by 2024. "In early September, we launched a citizens' consultation in collaboration with Galeries Lafayette and a group of partners to create the responsible fashion of the future," explains Isabelle Lefort, the organisation's co-founder. "In concrete terms, we are wanting to give the public and professionals a voice in order to encourage new initiatives based around responsible fashion." This consultation can be accessed at moderesponsable.make.org until 25th October, running in parallel with Galeries Lafayettes' "Aujourd’hui et demain, changeons de mode" (Fashioning change, today and tomorrow) event, which runs until 11th October 2020. This event is further confirmation that sustainable development is at the forefront of the industry's major initiatives. And that Paris is leading the way".
*study on the economic impact of fashion carried out in conjunction with French fashion, ready-to-wear and couture federations, as well as the Institut Français de la Mode. This covered all fashion products (fashion, accessories and jewellery). October 2016.