In its latest bid to further push into the fashion ecosystem, the Google-owned video platform will stream the full schedule of next week’s Spring/Summer 2022 shows on its Live and Fashion and Beauty channels, as well as Copenhagen Fashion Week’ own channel. (The three altogether have over 15 million subscribers.)
For its two previous seasons, Copenhagen Fashion Week (CPHFW), like the rest of the industry, was forced to host its events online, but did so through its own platform. From Spring/Summer 2021 to Autumn/Winter 2021, the organisation saw significant organic growth, with a 68 percent rise in viewership. Going forward, CPHFW is hoping its YouTube partnership will further that growth and extend its global reach.
“We have a handful of emerging voices on our official schedule, and I think for them this is also really an opportunity of discovery,” said Cecilie Thorsmark, chief executive of CPHFW.
Even before the pandemic, CPHFW already had intentions to invest in digital accessibility, with the goal of reducing carbon emissions related to fashion week travel, and Thorsmark hopes YouTube partnership could help the organisation meet its sustainable goals. In January 2020, the organisation released a three-year sustainability action plan, in which it said it would develop digital partnerships so a wider audience could engage with the event without making the trip. Thorsmark said one ambition of the action plan is that by the end of 2022, CPHFW will make its fashion week zero-waste. That means that beginning in 2023, to qualify to participate, all brands will have to comply with the ambitious minimum standards related to waste and emissions the organisation sets.
“It will be educational to the global audience,” said Thorsmark. “They know that what they’re watching on YouTube isn’t just whatever fashion show, it’s actually fashion shows executed by brands that are working very efficiently, and that have progressed immensely in regards to sustainability.”
For YouTube, the CPHFW partnership is the latest example of the platform investing in the fashion space over the past few years, following in the footsteps of other tech companies, namely Instagram, Snapchat and Amazon, In 2018, it appointed Derek Blasberg, former Vanity Fair contributor to lead its fashion team, and in the years since, a growing number of brands, including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Celine and Tom Ford as well as notable individuals in fashion, such as supermodel Naomi Campbell and designers Victoria Beckham and Alexa Chung, have invested in building up their presence on YouTube. Luxury labels like Louis Vuitton have even teamed up with influencers Emma Chamberlain, who made a name for herself on the platform. Blasberg and his team have ventured into storied industry affairs too — buying a table at the Met Gala and populating fashion week events.
So far, the partnership seems to be helping YouTube achieve that goal. Sustainability-focused Danish clothing brand Skall Studio said that the news of the tie-up was an incentive for the brand to finally launch a YouTube channel after months of contemplation. Skall Studio created its channel just a few days ago, and head of communications, Louise Nyboe Andersen, says she can see the brand making YouTube a meaningful part of its digital strategy going forward, citing the opportunity to gain traction with Gen-Z.
“[YouTube has] such a big following and such a big reach of very dedicated subscribers to their fashion channel,” said Thorsmark. “I think they’ve done a good job of bringing the best of fashion —and often in a very curated way — to subscribers. So, I’m very intrigued by that.”
Even after physical shows return, many in the industry expect the use of digital communication tools will permanently shift the schedule, cadence and strategy of runway shows. Which platforms will emerge dominant?