Fashion / Feature

All tomorrow’s parties: do we need fashion week?

Fashion Week coronavirus mbfwa RUSSH

Around this time last year, and the year before that, the RUSSH team was preparing for its annual MBFWA party - our affectionately titled F*ck Fashion Let's Dance event. This year as we seek to champion Australian designers, particularly in light of the times, a question sits top of mind. Do we actually miss fashion week?

There is more to fashion weeks than showcasing collections, of course. There are constellations of related industries, networking, buying, and the hallmarks of our internet age: content opportunities, street and off-duty style (that, in the context of our stay-at-home era, seems decidedly 'on-duty').

Even before restrictions on travel and gatherings caused global fashion weeks to press pause due to the coronavirus, the wider industry was considering a new way forward.

Brands devised more sustainable shows in fashion capitals world-over. And the Swedish Fashion Council took it a step further last year - announcing the the cancellation of Stockholm Fashion Week to focus on launching a more sustainable alternative.

In Australia, MBFWA announced a sustainability mission in 2019, writing "We advocate for a sustainable and responsible fashion industry that plays its part in the challenges that we face today. And our hope is for Sydney to be recognised as a hub for sustainable fashion innovation."

The mission also notes the impacts of air travel to and from shows: a carbon-heavy reality of our formerly globalised and fast-paced lives.

Sustainability is personal, too.

With a slew of event cancellations and time to reconsider what feels superfluous - anecdotal evidence suggests many of us were ready for a rest.

Social burnout is real. And, not to shock you, so is stress.

Which, come to think of it, is exactly why we called our parties F*ck Fashion, Let's Dance. They were devised as a way to let go while coming together. To suspend cynicism and celebrate creative communities. And, genuinely, to dance - which is a stress relief in itself.

We might not miss the rush of our former lives. And there is much that can be done online. But when people gather IRL, something intangible happens. There is opportunity for spontaneous exchange of ideas and energies. And that applies to all communities, not just fashion.

There's a psychological reason we mark seasons, lives and years with events and celebrations. Assigning meaning to moments actually promotes mindfulness. It aids in the forming of memories, and can build resilience.

When we look ahead to something worth commemorating, we feel more optimistic.

Studies in social psychology have also found that involvement in events leads to self-actualisation, personal development and improved quality of life.

As always, it's a question of balance. The way forward may not be clear cut, but we know what we need to do. When we meet again, it should be in a way that's sustainable in our own lives and - most importantly - for the planet that makes it all possible.