With restrictions on in-person presentations, fashion designers are turning to everything from OnlyFans to TikTok to show their lines.

By Emma Kahmann.

With social distancing regulations still in effect, fashion designers around the world have been forced to reimagine how to display their runway collections now that the packed, champagne-filled presentations are a thing of the past. Many brands have embraced the restrictions as a chance to redefine their label, while others have removed themselves from the fashion week calendar altogether. Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, and Marc Jacobs have opted out of this most recent New York Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2021 schedule, while some have embraced the creative opportunity, opting to showcase their designs with a short film and presentation.

Though some have stuck to tradition, like Jason Wu who presented a restricted in-person show, a majority of designers have favored a live stream on social media sites, like Burberry has done with today’s FW21 show streamed on Twitch and Instagram as part of the London Fashion Week presentations. IMG Fashion broadcast a large portion of New York Fashion Week’s events on TikTok, where accounts @FashionWeek, @NYFW and @MADE also featured live shows and pre-recorded pieces.

Some designers have also used the opportunity to feature their collections in the form of larger scale presentations. Harlem’s Fashion Row, for example, hosted a digital summit, “Moving Beyond the Black Box, A New Conversation About Race,” in honor of Black History Month, which also included a keynote by CFDA chairman Tom Ford. Last year, Gucci and Balenciaga used a digital film festival and video game, respectively, to showcase their new lines. All of the brands from Gucci and Balenciaga’s parent company Kering, which also includes Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen, have decided to opt out of in-person shows this season.

New York-based designer Rebecca Minkoff has gone for an even less conventional social media platform to show her line: OnlyFans. Minkoff has used the platform, which is most associated with sex work and pornography, to feature a livestream of her most recent show and offer viewers the option to pay for premium content, which consists of hour-long chatrooms with the designer and behind-the-scenes content from the show. Minkoff’s use of OnlyFans differs from the use of other social platforms this season in that OnlyFans will not only open her designs to a new audience, but generate revenue directly from the show.

COVID-19 has forced many unexpected changes upon the industry, but it’s also given designers an invitation to re-imagine how to communicate their vision. With fashion designers opting for new channels to express themselves creatively, it remains to be seen if the “traditional” fashion week will ever return.