”A digital fashion week allows major changes, but I think it’s good to keep some things traditional”
On the challenges and opportunities of a digital fashion week
February 01, 2021
Even with over a decade of practical and professional knowledge of the fashion industry, Copenhagen Fashion Week CEO Cecilie Thorsmark still couldn’t have predicted the peculiar circumstances of this year’s edition. Quite fittingly though, having worked with sustainability in fashion for so many years, she has always seen a big potential for Copenhagen Fashion Week to strive in sustainable and digital ways. And as things shaped up, this all-digital fashion week can be a valuable lesson for the future of fashion weeks.
Tell us about this Copenhagen Fashion Week. What’s new?
— The whole world is basically in lockdown, so we are not in the position to have a physical showcase this season. Copenhagen Fashion Week will therefore be completely digital. As anyone interested in fashion professionally or personally, you can follow the three-day stream of shows, talks, and Q&A from anywhere. This digital transition has really helped us to open up to the public, in a sense.
— I’m a very positive person, and of course I can see many limitations of not having a physical fashion week, but I also see the many opportunities in this year’s version. The digital opportunity has been right in front of us, and sometimes it takes a crisis to change for the better.
Which new formats that you use do you think are the most exciting?
— On an overall note, the show line-up and talk line-up has really developed well to adapt to the digital form. I am really impressed to see how agile the brands have been. The global support from the community means we have an amazing lineup of international editors, journalists, and buyers who get actively involved.
— Scheyderman’s is one show I am specifically excited about. Aesthetic and design-wise they have really impressed me over the past years. And the fact that they are the opening show tells a lot!
How do you handle the sustainability issue this time?
— Together with Zalando, who we will work with for the next three years, we will keep Copenhagen Fashion Week aligned with the requirements of sustainable fashion. We have created a Sustainability Award presented by Zalando, where the winner receives €20.000 and the chance to partner with Zalando in developing an exclusive capsule collection with a sustainability focus. The award wants to encourage fashion brands to improve their sustainability goals, which in turn contributes to a more sustainable fashion industry. The two finalists for this year are Marimekko and House of Dagmar.
— We have also published our first annual Sustainability Report which covers all of our work related to pushing for sustainability this past year. It is very exciting to be able to share the report with the world, as it gives us the opportunity to reflect on the past year, while it also fulfills our ambition to be transparent and be held accountable.
You still use the same kind of schedule (one event almost every half an hour) as usual. How come?
— It is very similar to the traditional and physical fashion week, but that is also the idea. A digital fashion week can be done in so many ways, but on-demand I’m not a very big fan of. It takes away the nerve and the energy that comes with a premier and a show. I understand that a digital fashion week allows for so many different schedules, but I think it’s good to keep some things traditional and familiar. We know that it actually works.
”Experiencing clothes in person is also the way that clothes and textiles deserve to be experienced!”
What do you think about the future of fashion weeks? And how will you approach them, digitally or physically?
— Hopefully for the next fashion week in August, but if not then, the season after can become a physical event again. Gathering people from all around the world with people from our own local community gives a personal contact. Experiencing clothes in person is also the way that clothes and textiles deserve to be experienced! I’m hoping that we can go back to the physical fashion week, but with the obvious choice of building on the digital aspect that we now have developed. Our digital solutions definitely do a great job, too.
Anything else you’d like to add? Something we can’t miss? — I’m really happy that H&M Studio has decided to move their show from Paris to Copenhagen. It’s important for us to showcase all possible sizes of Scandinavian brands. It adds an extra level to Copenhagen Fashion Week, since it’s a business-to-consumer event.