London Fashion Week will go ahead in June, merging menswear and womenswear showcases to form a “gender-neutral platform,” CNN reports.
The British Fashion Council announced the digital-only event will take place between 12 and 14 June and effectively presses pause on London Fashion Week Men’s, which started in 2012 to give designers a distinct platform to grow the industry.
The digital gender neutral format comes as the global fashion industry contends with the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, which has shut stores worldwide, forcing retailers to cancel orders and find other savings as sales fall.
The event organizers are complying with the strict UK lockdown rules that prevent public gatherings of more than two people. The UK has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, recording more than 16,000 deaths as of Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
In the statement, the British Fashion Council said the combined London Fashion Week would give designers more flexibility and reflect the event’s role as a platform for the city’s “influence on society, identity and culture.”
“The current pandemic is leading us all to reflect more poignantly on the society we live in and how we want to live our lives and build businesses when we get through this,” said Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council.
“The other side of this crisis, we hope will be about sustainability, creativity and product that you value, respect, cherish.”
According to CNN, “fashion had already been moving toward gender-neutral and more sustainable practices, so it’s possible the women’s and menswear shows would have eventually combined, even without the pandemic.”
A growing number of brands are promoting themselves as non-binary to a younger crowd, particularly Generation Z, that increasingly doesn’t want to be defined by gender.
“We hope that as well as personal perspectives on this difficult time, there will be inspiration in bucketloads. It is what British fashion is known for,” Rush said.