One of the most apparent signs of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on fashion has been the cancelation of Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo. The event, which serves as Japan’s biggest style showcase, was nixed amid growing concerns over the spread of the outbreak, but its organizers have found a compelling work-around. Rather than crowd attendees into runway shows or presentations, they’ve opted to go online. Starting today, the fall 2020 collections of the nation’s buzziest designers will be livestreamed on the organization’s official website.
Just as late-night television programs have abandoned their studio audiences to avoid crowding, the collections will be presented without the usual lineup of editors, buyers, and influencers in the front row. The move makes sense given recommendations about self-quarantining and social distancing, but it will do little to diminish the enthusiasm for Toyko’s top labels. Buzzy brands like Hideaki Yoshihara and Yukiko Ode’s Hyke, modern kimono purveyor Jotaro Saito, and streetwear fave Shoop will all present their latest wares in exclusive streams. The only thing that will be missing is the city’s legendary street style.
Livestreams have become increasingly relevant. Even before the coronavirus emergency, the validity of fashion shows—from the expense to their environmental impact—was being questioned. While it’s unlikely that the pomp and circumstance of, say, a Chanel event in the Grand Palais will ever be eliminated, in times of crisis fresh ideas are always welcome. Tokyo’s all-digital model will serve as a test run for a new kind of show season. We’ll be watching.