MBFWRussia Wraps Up its First Digital Fashion Week

Moscow just wrapped up its 40th season of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia. Originally the week was set to take place March 30th through April 4th, but as the Covid -19 pandemic continued its rapid spread during the month of March across the globe eventually hitting Moscow, Russia – last minute changes were inevitable.  

Russia Fashion Council and MBFW Russia had to cancel all live events less than a week before the start date. A decision was made to go digital with a change in dates to take places April 4th-April 6th. 

Short on time some designers opted out, while 32 designers presented their collections in a 1-7 minute video format that aired across many major networks, like Vogue.ru, Aizel.ru and HarperBazar.ru.  Russia Fashion Council alongside TikTok.ru streamed educational and informative lectures that reached a large number of viewers. All together MBFWRussia pulled an impressive number of viewers reaching over 830 thousand over the two days of shows.

A young brand Selfetude from Sankt Petersburg, who was originally discovered by MBFWRussia’s emerging designer event FUTURUM, was planning to show her collection on the big stage for the first time. “We were informed of the change of format at the end of March and with just a few days on hand I had to put together my own production team to shoot the collection in a video format.” 

Ekaterina Ohotnikova, designer of Selfetude, says, “That even though it was a very stressful time, production of my collection was getting shut down, cancelations left and right, ever changing lockdown rules, I ended up with 15 pieces instead of 25. I am very happy with the outcome considering the circumstances. I saw a huge influx of traffic on my brands Instagram page and website during and after the livestream shows. For a young brand like mine to receive this kind of exposure is unbelievable.”

A regular show sits up to 600 people and entails a much bigger production. An established russian brand Yana Besfamilnaya, participated in MBFW Russia for the first time. She was one of the few designers who came on board after the live shows were cancelled and the video format was in place. “This was a brand new possibility, that I could not pass up. To be part of the Fashion Week in this format knowing powerhouses such as Russia Fashion Council, Vogue.ru, Harper’s Bazaar.ru and Aizel would be streaming the shows. Even though I missed the audience’s response factor from a live show, I feel like digital is the future of fashion and fashion shows.” 

“I was always hesitant to participate in a traditional runway show, the number of guests is limited and the marketing reach is hard to measure. This format was a great opportunity for my brand and the risk and cost involved is very little” says Yana Besfamilnaya designer of YanaBesfamilnaya brand.  

“My original idea for the video was different but taking the circumstances that lockdown rules were constantly changing, I decided to cut all the models out and create something that was entertaining, airy, fun and uplifting. People have been on lock down for weeks. I also did not want to take any chances getting anyone sick or getting sick myself, so it was just me and the videographer, having fun with the creative process.” 

The brand Red September has many runway shows under its belt and pulls an impressive audience each time.  For them the digital format came with its ups and downs. “Digital presentation is a very progressive, economical and environmentally friendly way of presenting the new season. It is completely devoid of the emotional component. A live show is always an energy exchange with the audience, with people who come to support the brand. I am very thankful to all the press and people who watched the online streams. The numbers are so impressive!” Says Olga Vasyukova from Red September.

Shanghai fashion week, who also had to cancel all their live events, had more time to prepare a fully digital version. Russia Fashion Council and the participating designers had just a few days to execute the task of going digital. Even in these times of uncertainty, when the fashion industry is put on pause, MBFWRussia and Russian Fashion Council managed to pull through by providing their platform to the designers and opening doors to an audience without borders. 

The digital stream allowed participating designers to follow through with finishing and showcasing of their new seasons visions. More than anything it gave them an audience exposure never possible during a live runway show. 

“The key task of the Fashion Week is to promote new collections. However, the digital Fashion Week has one more function – to support fashion houses that haven’t ceased their operations. The fashion industry is enormous, comprising gifted people, jobs, and last, but not least, emotions, which we should share now. While others are out of action, we are going to move on, developing and enhancing innovative formats that have always been present at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia,” said Alexander Shumsky, President of Russian Fashion Council.

Olga Vasyukova, designer of Red September says “Perhaps this situation will push the development of conscious fashion. Slow fashion will become not just a trendy word, but a new daily reality.”

With the fashion industry on pause and with no clear end to the lockdown, there is hope that these changes are the beginning of the new era in fashion. An era that is more sustainable to the world and more obtainable to consumers.  

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