Following New York, the fashion industry has now turned its attention to London for a spectacular runway showcase featuring renowned names like Burberry, alongside the promising work of young designers who may soon become household names.
Before the official commencement, Vogue’s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, hosted an A-list event described as Britain’s equivalent to New York’s Met Gala. Supermodels Kate Moss, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, and Cindy Crawford were joined by stars from the worlds of music, theater, and film, including Kate Winslet, Brian Cox, Annie Lennox, and Rita Ora. Actress Sienna Miller stole the spotlight with a daring outfit that revealed her pregnancy bump.
Last year’s London Fashion Week, considered a comeback after disruptions caused by the Covid pandemic, was overshadowed by the passing of Queen Elizabeth II and 10 days of national mourning. This year, over 80 designers are slated to present their spring/summer 2024 collections, featuring around 50 catwalk shows and other presentations. Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council (BFC), expressed anticipation for five days filled with creativity.
However, London’s fashion scene is grappling with a post-Covid downturn, exacerbated by high inflation (the G7’s highest at 6.8 percent in July) and Brexit, creating a challenging economic environment. This has led London to lag behind Paris, Milan, and New York in the realm of fashion weeks. Even former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham has chosen to present her designs in Paris since last year, underscoring London’s waning influence.
In a bid to reinvigorate the industry, the UK government recently pledged £2 million ($2.5 million) to support young designers through the BFC’s NewGen program. Over the past three decades, this initiative has nurtured some of the brightest talents in fashion, aiming to catapult them into global high-end brands of the future. The funding will facilitate the staging of five fashion weeks over the next two years.
A Design Museum exhibition titled “REBEL: 30 Years of London Fashion” is set to honor NewGen talents and their transformative impact on the industry. This year, approximately 20 designers are benefiting from the NewGen program, including recent graduates who have already dressed some of the biggest stars.
While a variety of notable designers will be showcased during the event, Burberry, established in 1856, remains the most eagerly anticipated show. The London-based fashion house, under the creative direction of Daniel Lee, will unveil its second collection following his debut last February.
The BFC is also striving to make London’s catwalk shows more inclusive. They have initiated a survey targeting all professionals in the sector, seeking information on gender, sexual orientation, religion, and social background. This audit represents a crucial step toward gauging the UK fashion industry’s progress toward fair representation, with results set to be disclosed later this year.