On March 30th, the usual hurried fluster that surrounds a fashion show was in action, as part of the Shanghai Fashion Week roster, SHUSHU/TONG were prepping for their Autumn/Winter debut. This season, however, things went slightly differently, as the brand premiered an eight minute film of their collection instead of sending models down the traditional runway.

Instead of deciding to cancel (because of the lockdown restrictions), Shanghai Fashion Week continued to showcase the countries array of fashion designers in the safest and most innovative way yet; digitally. From 24th to 30th March, designer's kept their place within the schedule, despite the quarantine conditions, by live-streaming the collection or presenting short films. "We have more control when it comes to video," shares Liushu Lei, also known as Shushu, who is one half of the design duo.  "We were less nervous for the screening than we would have been if it was a show." The film was based on an old Soviet film called "Office Romance", and portrays a female boss whose strict, old-fashioned and cold in her approach to people, but with more personality than her layers show. Each model shows there's more to her difficult demeanour, as they hint to a character filled with rebelliousness and femininity. The collection plays into this well, pink gingham two-pieces stood side by side black leather dresses, and traditional peter pan collars on dresses made of vintage jacquard eluded to an antique elegance. Within the current state of affairs, this period piece fabric easily evokes thoughts of a time where Coronavirus could have done even more harm and chaos, if it had struck then. 

Despite this being option B to a regular runway, the digital format can't be faulted for it's accessibility and inclusivity. 20,000 people tuned in over the hour it was screened, which is at least 10x over the amount of people that could attend the show. "You can reach to a bigger audience for sure... but the experience is very different," explains Shushu. "You can’t see the clothes up close, feel the weight and touch the fabrics backstage." This is the problem many European designer's will be fearing ahead of next season. The continent's delay – when compared to China – in experiencing the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, mean that designer's sadly, won't have much choice. With the directors of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode already announcing that the Paris Men's and Haute Couture shows in June will be cancelled, with the likelihood that Milan will follow,  it suggests that these new show formats may be the futuristic answer to the (some say) outdated runway tradition. 

Whatever the future may bring, it's refreshing to see the industry using its means to continue to support brands, who like everyone, will have been sourly hit economically from the effects of this virus. Seeing China – who are starting to see light at the end of this incredibly dark tunnel – battle against the uncertainties to give a week's worth of fashion excellence gives hope to its counterparts that the industry endure from this, and pragmatically say, the show must go on.

Written by Carmen Bellot

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