In an unexpected shake-up, the BFC has today announced that the next edition of London Fashion Week will encompass menswear and womenswear within the same schedule in a digital first event taking place in February 2021. This means the end for London Fashion Week Men’s, a trailblazing event founded in June 2012 as a vehicle dedicated to young menswear talent, showcasing brands like Cottweiler, Christopher Shannon, Craig Green and Nasir Mazhar alongside more traditional Saville Row tailors.
'Moving LFWM into LFW in February will continue to de-gender LFW. As the fashion industry moves towards a more sustainable and responsible future, our aim is to continue to redefine our fashion week model, embracing digital and technological innovation,' said the BFC's chief executive, Caroline Rush. The decision to combine menswear and womenswear also had its roots in the challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit. The movement of goods, samples and people in the single market and customs union post-Brexit were proving highly difficult in the current medical and political climate.
All the remaining London Fashion Weeks to be held in 2021 (in February, June and September) will be genderless moving forward. LFW's move towards unisex fashion is emblematic of wider trends in the industry. In recent years, the use of gender binaries, within and outside of fashion, appear to be of less and less significance. British brands like Charles Jeffrey and ART SCHOOL are self-proclaimed as 'genderless,' while Maison Margiela, Givenchy, Marine Serre, Jacquemus, Raf Simons and many others presented menswear and womenswear together in the same collection for the Spring/Summer 21 season. Before Wales Bonner and Kenneth Ize officially launched womenswear lines, their garments, traditionally defined as 'menswear,' were mainly bought and worn by women. The ease of androgynous fashion therefore has its appeals, and also attracts more customers from across the gender spectrum.
LFW's innovation of their schedule in gender and digital-related matters can be read as a bid to stay relevant in a time when designers are abandoning traditional Fashion Week schedules altogether. In recent months Gucci, Saint Laurent, and Jacquemus have all expressed discontent at traditional Fashion Week structures, jumping ship from the traditional schedule and instead setting their own pace of production.