Future of fashion: No runway shows? (Part I)

Last Updated on December 15, 2021

Is the catwalk out of date, asks Samantha Tyler? When Riccardo Tisci presented his Givenchy Fall/Winter 2010 haute couture collection in an apartment on Place Vendôme in Paris to a carefully selected handful of fashion insiders last July instead of putting on a full-blown runway show, it became obvious that clothes can also be showcased in ways that don't include the catwalk. Gareth Pugh was the next to jump on the bandwagon, hiring director Ruth Hogben to shoot a video presentation for his Spring/Summer 2011 collection (see below). It features model Kristen McMenamy striking a variety of poses to catchy beats, allowing the viewer to see how the garments work in detail from several angles (this in-depth insight in particular is something you don't always experience at "traditional" fashion shows unless you have a really good seat).


What would change in the world of fashion if everyone decided to kill the runway?

1. Focus on clothes instead of who sits in the front row. Cathy Horyn of The New York Times said in a recent interview that fashion nowadays is more about "fashion culture" than "fashion". Listing front-row sitters has become an integral part of runway reports although it has nothing to do with the show. "Who wore what" is considered of utmost importance, yet nobody will remember it the next day. An alternative way to present collections would almost certainly weed out most of the elements that detract attention from what's truly important - the garments.

2. Fashion houses would save a lot of money, which might have been Tisci and Pugh's motivation in the first place due to their respective houses not being impervious to recession (the one good thing about the economic crisis is that it forces people to think of new solutions). Tisci saved money by choosing a smaller venue while Pugh went frugal on models; you need a lot of people for a runway show to work and you have to pay all of them, so smaller projects will undoubtedly be cheaper. Leave throwing bucks out the window to Chanel!

3. Nobody would idolize models any more. They'd still present clothes in other ways and shoot editorials, but the runway is their essence, the place where they blossom. There would be very little "model magic" left without it. Would you still be able to have an accurate idea of who a model is if you can't see their walk?

10 thoughts on “Future of fashion: No runway shows? (Part I)”

  1. I've heard about this but I think no way is it going to happen. All the magic lost. Purpose and essence gone and not just for models. And luxury fashion brand are not about saving money anyway.

    • The new approaches are so interesting [to the public] that it might become "mandatory" that fashion houses at least try them. For me, the purpose and essence are in the garments themselves, but I'd probably miss the shows. They're super exciting, high adrenaline levels and all.

  2. i already don't have any accurate idea of models.
    but fashion shows are too much of celebration, meet-up points, first rows showoffs, designer motivations, so they wont disappear... i think.

  3. I personally wouldn't mind seeing the end of runways and having these showcase-type videos be the low-cost alternative, but then again my livelihood isn't based around fashion shows like others.

    This was an awesome video. It gave me the chills! It really does show more movement than runways shows. I agree to that!

  4. What you have been describing so far, is actually a growing separation between two fashion art forms, isn't it? Fashion shows are requiring more and more attention for themselves, clothes (on models) need to be seen, too. Maybe this diversification will continue: there will be fabulous fashion shows to please their fans AND there will be more of those detailed (video etc.) presentations of clothes to please the customers? These 2 forms cannot co-exist if no one can finance them both, but given enough money, they might. 2 fashion art forms means attracting 2 groups of spectators (though not necessarily different people) means more attention (and more money)?

    • Very interesting point! The new approach is still in its "experimental" stage (i.e. the majority of fashion houses haven't tried it yet), but it would be really fascinating if it turns out that it actually does make more money. It definitely reaches a lot more people anyway (was planning to go into this in Part II).

  5. I think it's an excellent idea, and certainly, placing shows in different venues, as well as videos representing the collections will be a sure addition to the runway shows, but modelling industry feeds directly into diet, lifestyle and advertising industries, which are worth literally billions every year. the "model worshipping" drives it all, so I think that this aspect is very unlikely to be removed from it all.
    fashion has all but ceased to be about just fashion - it is the lifestyle, it is where to be seen, it is a status symbol.
    and I agree with comment above, I can't see the major houses becoming frugal, if anything, because they sell the whole luxury lifestyle, they are likely to spend their last penny on an amazing show.
    but, I wish it was different

    • The "model worshipping" is one of the aspects I like the least about fashion. Actually, it's funny how there are so many things in fashion that don't make sense (or are even dangerous for some people), but fashion as a whole is something we continue to swoon over because often it makes *perfect* sense.


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