London Fashion Week: what to look out for at the all-new digital event

With the original shows cancelled due to Covid-19, a brand new format is about to launch in the British capital

A model present creations from Britis designer Matty Bovan during a catwalk show for the Spring/Summer 2020 collection on the first day of London Fashion Week in London on September 13, 2019. / AFP / Niklas HALLE'N

June was meant to see next season's men’s collections debuting at London Fashion Week, but the pandemic put paid to that some while back.

In fact, the Covid-19 outbreak has laid waste to most of this year's fashion schedules, with the majority either cancelled, moved, or hastily reimagined.

For London, the event's organising body, the British Fashion Council, rethought the entire event and decided to move away from the men’s only format, instead opening it up to men’s, women’s or both. In doing so it extended an invitation to whoever has a collection to show, which in these uncertain times, is not everybody.

In fact, with so much disruption of late, as the novel three day event kicks off on Friday June 12, there is a thrilling uncertainty about what will be unveiled.

One thing about the new format is certain; there will be no fashion shows – certainly not of the type we are familiar with, at least. Instead, the online-only audience will get to see virtual galleries and films, and hear conversations and live interviews from a broad and wonderfully eclectic mix of names, even by London standards.

Showing via a specially created digital platform, we can look forward to a virtual gallery by the dynamic menswear name Ahluwalia, who is already making big waves with her collections questioning identity and waste. Having already teamed up with Matches Fashion on a capsule collection, and nominated for the LVMH prize, she is definitely one to watch.

There is also an interview with the architectural fashion designer Chalayan, who will be discussing the creative process behind his Spring Summer 2020 collection. Another highlight is set to be a podcast with rapper and grime artist Tinie Tempah and the founding force of Men’s Fashion Week, Dylan Jones; two men with serious fashion prowess.

Elsewhere, Arsenal footballer and fashion devotee Hector Bellerin will be in conversation with the fashion editor of British GQ, Catherine Hayward, to discuss how sport and fashion can come together.

The fabled Central Saint Martins will deliver its Masters degree fashion show as a film, a format that will also be  used by Preen by Thornton Bregazzi to deliver its showcase.

The milliner Stephen Jones has also created a women-centric film, while designer Roksanda will present a "LFW Designer Diary".

In between will be DJ sets, a film by Chinese online giant, and even a live event by Mulberry called simply "My Local".

With sparse details given out other than the schedule, on paper at least the new-format London Fashion Week feels a bit odd.  But it is worth remembering that whatever is delivered will have been put together under extremely challenging circumstances.

Thanks to London’s pulsing energy and reputation for being a hotbed of fresh ideas, plus its long history as the fashion rule breaker, no matter what we see, you know it will be interesting.