14 Jul Louis Vuitton Takes Its Men’s Show On The Road: The Future Of Fashion Weeks.
If, like all of us on the Style Lush TV team, your favorite season of the year revolves around fashion weeks, this pandemic has really crushed our souls. It’s clear that at this point the pandemic is here to stay for the near future and with that comes the cancellations and postponements of fashion weeks around the world. This raises the question of whether or not we will ever be able to attend another fashion show. As much as we will miss the thrill of seeing the newest trends strut the runway, our favorite designers have us covered as they are adapting to this new world of fashion events. Michael Burke, chairman and chief executive officer of Louis Vuitton, and Virgil Abloh, artistic director of men’s wear, revealed their plans at the historic Louis Vuitton grounds in the Paris suburb of Asnières. Their plan for Men’s Fashion Week is to, yes you heard correctly, go on the road! LV is altering its men’s wear schedule and switching to a seasonless, traveling model of fashion shows, beginning with physical runway displays in Shanghai on Aug. 6 and in Tokyo at a later date. Titled “Message in a Bottle,” the spring 2021 collection will introduce a multifaceted sustainability initiative, where work can be recycled, upcycled, and even reissued in its original form.
Instead of showing its men’s collection in Paris, Vuitton plans to kick off its international tour with the screening of a short film that blends live-action with animated characters that Abloh has dubbed “Zoooom with friends,” as they set off on a sea voyage. “This next show is probably the biggest leap that I’ve made in terms of proposing a new system, how it lives and operates. It’s probably the most fully packaged from the clothes itself and the craftsmanship, to the things you’ll see with the films and how it activates,” Abloh tells Women’s Wear Daily. “Instead of the doom and gloom, sort of panic approach, I looked at it like, ‘Oh, this is the new frontier that we’ve been asking for in fashion,’” he continued. “We’re in a new era. I feel like this is the pandemic of 2020 with the hard stop between fashion as it was before, and I’m interested in this sort of investigation.”
Since Abloh joined Vuitton in 2018, he’s been credited with writing a new chapter in fashion history: the moment when streetwear crashed the world of luxury brands. From the inclusive casting of his shows to his advertising campaigns featuring young children, the designer has consistently challenged the status quo. With foreign editors and clients unable to travel because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, French fashion’s governing body, canceled the June edition of Paris Fashion Week Men’s. Instead, brands are staging virtual presentations on a dedicated online platform from July 9 to 13. “Burke doesn’t think the fashion show is dead, but he’s decided to take this particular one on the road.” Abloh continues, “We know people are not going to be able to travel, so let’s not have people travel to the venues — let’s have the clothes travel to the venues.”
“I think fashion shows have to remain live. There has to be an audience. There has to be anticipation, there has to be tension, there has to be last-minute desperation. If you don’t have that, it’s like some of these football games that are being played with no audience — they have to pipe in the noise,” Burke explained during the LV press conference. The upcoming shows will be open to the general public and will be live-streamed, and further destinations may be added between now and the end of the year. Burke continues, adding “We think that excitement has to come from that element of being live in front of a live audience, but it’s more modern to not have a hierarchy as to who gets to see it,” Burke said. “The fundamental idea is that we’re getting rid of the straitjacket the industry has been operating under.”
“It’s a little bit like my motley crew that arrived to Paris with me. Me, my network of friends, my outlook on casting, the characterization that I brought to the studio, and how I’ve sort of started to take root within the house of Vuitton at Pont-Neuf, is in a metaphorical sense what that animation means. It’s the classic with the new,” Abloh explained about the 4-minute film posted to the Louis Vuitton YouTube page. Working with director Reggieknow to develop the animation, and The Sa-Ra Creative Partners — the hip-hop group made up of Om’Mas Keith, Taz Arnold, and Shafiq Husayn — to produce the psychedelic score. “The concept is that Vuitton started at Asnières, the home of the family around manufacturing trunks. So I’m taking that liberty to say a shipping container is the new trunk,” he added.
“My shows will now travel the world, the beginning and ends of season won’t be on the invite,” he said. “It’s one continuous flow that has a little bit of new and some things you’ve seen before. And philosophically, when it comes to the sustainability idea, I’m starting to collapse all the seasons into one.” The next collection is comprised of 30 looks made from new material, 25 looks made from recycled materials, and 25 looks from the previous collection. Vuitton is duplicating some existing designs in new fabrics, and Abloh asked his team to create individual looks using overstock. Reconditioned pieces will carry the Upcycling Signal Logo, a new emblem for the house.
It’s a trying time for creatives. How can we bring something new and uplifting amid a pandemic that is shutting so much down? Abloh tells Women’s Wear Daily “The collection is now designed with the idea of it being broadcast on hundreds of thousands of screens, so that’s having an effect on the clothes. I look at my studio as a mix between Disney and an art-making studio,” Having famously declared streetwear dead, he’s also having to reconsider what men will want to wear after the lockdown. His fall collection, which was all about the suit, may require some recalibrating now that many people are working from home. “With COVID-19, I’m not gonna lie, as I’m sitting in hoodies and T-shirts every day and we’re sitting in our house, how can you switch your brain on to fashion?” he confessed. “Michael and I spoke a bit about this: It’s like the restaurant is an essential component to fashion, or the communal gathering or vacation. I start there when I think of what fashion the world may need. And now that the restaurants are opening up, you can sort of see it’s a little bit of a process to get there,” Abloh said. Still, he maintains that the era of the facile hoodie has come to a close. “I want to urge the industry not to just focus on easy-to-sell garments that we know work commercially. The Nigo collection is a perfect example,” he said, noting that the Japanese streetwear pioneer was also keen to evolve his aesthetic.
“Talking: that’s the phase that I hope that our modern generation can tackle. We can change the world, but we have to allow people a second to sort of get up to speed and feel and hear, instead of other drastic means. I run a studio of optimism, and I have a general belief in good and beauty,” he said. Abloh hopes his new approach to showing and producing his collections will benefit young people. “I grew up idolizing the greats, and wanted to contribute. I love the history of fashion. I love the nuances of innovation. And, I just want to add another book to the bookshelf of the history of fashion, of how you can do this practice. I feel like that contribution is helpful to the whole and helpful to the young generation,” he said.
With a fascinating approach, it’s looking like Louis Vuitton is setting the bar high with the new way of showcasing during what would’ve been Fashion Week. With other designers following suit, I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ll see of virtual and traveling shows. Here comes the new wave of fashion events, are you ready?
WATCH: Virgil Abloh’s Film for Louis Vuitton: The Adventures of Zoooom with Friends by Virgil Abloh for Men’s Spring-Summer 2021