LONDON, United Kingdom — Models will strut their stuff on catwalks when London's menswear fashion week gets under way on Saturday, but absent will be some big industry names who have chosen to skip the event, or make digital presentations in place of runway shows.
The event will see around 50 traditional catwalk shows over three days, with the remainder of the 80 designers on the bill showcasing their wares through a variety of other events, including digitally.
The transition to new methods of connecting with buyers has cost the event some of its biggest catwalk names. Punk icon Vivienne Westwood announced last month that she would eschew a runway show and showcase her collection via an audio-visual presentation.
Other big brands, including Britain's Burberry and J.W. Anderson, decided to skip the event last year and this year respectively, in favour of holding 'co-ed' shows during London's fashion week for womenswear in February.
"All we're trying to do is shorten the distance from a consumer to a pair of trousers," said London Fashion Week Men's Chairman Dylan Jones, who is also the editor of British GQ magazine.
"If a brand or a designer deems that it's much better for them to do a joint show, a show out of season, a digital show, go direct to consumer – doesn't matter. It's all about amplifying British creativity and selling."
Young British Talent
Designers have been placing more emphasis on their digital presence in recent years, courting social media influencers with the same assiduousness that they traditionally reserved for the fashion press.
Online sales are a particularly important revenue stream in Britain's over 14 billion pound menswear industry, growing by over 17 percent between 2010 and 2015 — outpacing all other categories in the sector — according to researchers IbisWorld.
With a shortage of big names on the catwalk this year, organisers said the event was returning to how it was originally envisioned — as a platform for young British talent.
"International media and retailers come to London for this excitement, these new businesses, the ones that are setting the menswear world on fire and you can only get that in London," said British Fashion Council Chief Executive Caroline Rush.
It was a sentiment echoed by Jones, who saw the changes in the industry as a source of excitement.
"It's mutating and developing and changing each season. And that's the great thing about fashion – it keeps changing."
By Mark Hanrahan and Pedro Caiadol; Editor: Ralph Boulton.