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London Fashion Week Looks Beyond Burberry

This week, everyone will be talking about London’s emerging designers Supriya Lele, Nensi Dojaka and Harris Reed, as well as the Met Gala and On Running’s IPO.
A model walks the runway at the Supriya Lele Ready to Wear Spring/Summer 2020 fashion show.
A model walks the runway at the Supriya Lele Ready to Wear Spring/Summer 2020 fashion show. Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images. (Victor VIRGILE)
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London Fashion Week, Unmoored

  • London Fashion Week runs Sept. 17-21
  • Several major brands are missing from the schedule, including Burberry and Victoria Beckham
  • Notable designers showing include Supriya Lele, Harris Reed and Nensi Dojaka

Burberry and Victoria Beckham, two anchors of London Fashion Week, are off the schedule this year. The absence of Burberry is particularly painful, it being the British brand with the most muscle to draw international editors and buyers to London (though many top players are still coming, including Vogue’s Anna Wintour). But Burberry’s absence also makes more space for London designers hoping to burnish the city’s reputation as a hotbed of emerging talent. Insiders are buzzing about Supriya Lele, who is back at fashion week after a two-year absence and whose past collections were inspired by everything from her Indian heritage to the Y2K aesthetic. Also on the radar is Harris Reed, recently anointed British GQ’s breakthrough designer of the year, who is showing his gender fluid fashion off schedule at the Serpentine Gallery. Ditto Nensi Dojaka, whose mesh dresses have proved a hit with Bella Hadid, Kaia Gerber and, most recently, the panel that awards the LVMH Prize.

The Bottom Line: Buzzy but small brands may not be able to make up for the absence of Burberry, but London Fashion Week is making the case that a fashion show in September or February is still the right move for a new generation of exciting designers. That said, it’s telling that some of the designers who gave NYFW back some of its buzz, including Christopher John Rogers, Pyer Moss and Telfar, have since opted to show elsewhere, or not at all.

The Met Gala Returns

  • The Met Gala will be held on Sept. 13, after being cancelled in 2020 and postponed from May
  • Expect a smaller crowd, and perhaps a younger one (the average age of the celebrity co-chairs is 23)
  • Instagram is sponsoring the event and the accompanying exhibit, with creations from featured designers for sale on the platform

It was inevitable that some would smell blood in the water with a scaled-down Met Gala. Anonymous publicists gossiped in the New York Post about how the event had lost its lustre and A-list celebrities were steering clear for fear of being photographed near tables full of TikTok influencers. It’s not a stretch to assume this year’s Met Gala will generate less buzz than pre-pandemic editions; if the Olympics, the Oscars and the Super Bowl couldn’t attract the same crowds, Anna Wintour probably should lower her expectations as well. But the influencer debate feels a bit stale, given that it’s been flaring annually at least since Kim Kardashian scored her first invite in 2013. Hollywood doesn’t produce megastars anymore, so the fashion industry must look elsewhere for celebrities who resonate with their customers, who are increasingly found online. So is the money: Instagram’s sponsoring the gala, complete with exclusive merch created by American designers including Virgil Abloh, Christopher John Rogers and Prabal Gurung.

The Bottom Line: This is the first Met Gala since last summer’s protests as well as the 2020 election and Jan. 6 uprising. The event’s theme, American fashion, practically requires organisers and attendees engage with the current moment.

A New Sneaker Giant

  • On Running has filed for an IPO that would value the shoemaker at $6 billion
  • The brand, backed by Roger Federer, has in the space of a decade raced to the top of the performance running category
  • Proceeds from the IPO will go toward opening stores and international expansion

On was founded in 2010, but now finds itself at the head of a crowded pack in the fast-growing market for running shoes. The brand’s sales shot up 59 percent last year, to 425.3 million Swiss Francs (about $464 million), and are on pace to grow nearly 50 percent this year. Unlike Allbirds, the other big upcoming sneaker IPO, On is also profitable.

How did they do it? Much of On’s success comes down to a combination of innovative design — cushioning designed to soften landings — that draw distance runners, with looks that appeal to shoppers at Dover Street Market and Ssense as well. An alliance with Roger Federer, who invested in the brand in 2019, gives On the seal of approval of an elite, globally-recognised athlete, another must for any up-and-coming sneaker brand.

The Bottom Line: As fast as On has grown, it remains something of a niche name outside running circles. The IPO is likely to change that, enabling the brand to open more stores, invest in e-commerce and expand into new markets.

-Marc Bain contributed to this item

The Week Ahead wants to hear from you! Send tips, suggestions, complaints and compliments to brian.baskin@businessoffashion.com.

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