For designers and fashion lovers everywhere, September is the highlight of the year with brands showing off their new collections in exotic locations all across the world.
But this year it’s different. Travel is limited, crowds are banned and the majority of people are still quarantined at home.
Brands have had to quickly discover new ways to connect with their customers and the answer is social media.
Prior to COVID Designers and Brands had been using Instagram to share behind the scene videos of the creative process and this year we have seen a mass increase with brands now moving most of their content online.
Gucci has been using their Instagram platform to share podcasts, stories about collaborators, and during lockdown excerpts from Alessandro Michele’s diary, sharing his feelings on the current situation.
However, the biggest development in the fashion world is TikTok’s launch of #FashionMonth as a digital alternative to the physical fashion weeks.
For fashion month, TikTok will produce two weekly live streams from the beginning of September through to October 8th featuring runway shows by luxury designers including Saint Laurent, JW Anderson, and Louis Vuitton.
This is not the first time that fashion shows have been conducted on social media platforms. In 2018 Burberry streamed some of its London Fashion Week on Instagram and allowed fans to purchase limited-edition pieces from their collection through a series of 24-hour product releases on Instagram.
Traditionally, Instagram has been viewed as the social media app which is best suited for promoting fashion because of its high-class sleek content and up until recently, the fashion industry was slow to adapt to other apps, such as TikTok.
However, that changed during Lockdown when TikTok became the platform for viral fashion trends and fun compelling content.
One memorable fashion hashtag challenge was the #harrystylescardigan which inspired a viral knitting trend where TikTokers tried to create the rainbow JW Anderson cardigan that the singer Harry Styles wore on The Tonight Show.
After the success of the challenge, JW Anderson is now set to debut their women’s spring/summer 21 collections on TikTok.
“We’ve seen the fashion industry reinvent what luxury fashion means to culture and society through TikTok by bringing fashion into the homes of our community during quarantine,” said CeCe Vu, fashion content partnership lead at TikTok, in a statement about their fashion month.
“We’re so thrilled to be able to offer an inclusive and immersive virtual fashion month experience for our community and are excited to see how they engage with each piece of live programming, hashtag challenge and creative effect.”
The most ambitious event of TikTok’s Fashion Month is their Runway Odyssey which will happen on the final night.
The event will be an exclusive, first-of-its-kind virtual fashion runway LIVE stream in partnership with the brands’ PUMA and Alice & Olivia.
For the live stream, PUMA has partnered with Black TikTok creators and designers for their exclusive collection and $10K of the proceeds from the sales will go directly to the Equal Justice Initiative.
During the event, viewers will be able to see some of their favourite creators make their runway debuts and will be able to shop exclusive capsule collections that can only be found on TikTok. This signals a new direction of TikTok’s strategy and will be interesting to see if they move further into the world of e-commerce
The development of virtual fashion month shows how powerful a tool social media is for brands. It allows brands to reach their customers and fans from the comfort of their own homes which in this current climate is crucial.
If TikTok’s fashion months are successful we may start to see fashion influencers and creators becoming mainstream brand ambassadors alongside actors and models.
In the future, it is likely that alongside transitional fashion shows brands will continue to have virtual events during fashion month so that they can continue to engage with a wider audience.