How New York Fashion Week will go virtual due to COVID-19

New York Fashion Week is officially a go come September, but it will look very different than in seasons past.

Gone are the celeb-filled front rows, exclusive after-parties and street-style stars peacocking outside of show venues. Instead, the events will be spectator-free from Sept. 13 to 17, as was announced Tuesday. In line with the coronavirus restrictions, participating designers’ collections will be unveiled without fans, save for a few outdoor events capped off at no more than 50 guests, all of whom will be required to wear face masks and socially distance.

On Thursday morning, the Council of Fashion Designers of America released its official NYFW calendar and announced the launch of Runway360, a “centralized hub and fashion industry business tool” that will allow brands to digitally present their collections. Currently, the site features a clock counting down to the kickoff of NYFW.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the global fashion industry and hit New York particularly hard,” Steven Kolb, CFDA’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Fashion week is a critical time when brands are able to connect with press, retailers and consumers, and I’m proud of how quickly the CFDA pivoted to support the needs of the industry by creating Runway360. We are excited to see 15 new American brands on the schedule — many for the first time — who might not have had the opportunity to share their collections to a global audience without access to Runway360. We’re also excited to highlight the incredible talent coming out of Harlem’s Fashion Row, and announce the return of New York Men’s Day. In the face of unprecedented challenges and uncertainty within our industry, the American fashion community has once again come together to support each other and prove its resilience.”

Returning designers — all known for splashy front-row attendees, festive presentations and party crashers clamoring for the glamorous spotlight — include Carolina Herrera, Anna Sui, Chromat, LaQuan Smith, Claudia Li, Naeem Khan, Eckhaus Latta, Collina Strada, Alice and Olivia and Tom Ford (who is set to close out the week). Brands new to the schedule include Anne Klein, Theophilio, Imitation of Christ and Wolk Morais.

In an unexpected collaboration, Lowe’s home improvement company is partnering with three high-profile designers familiar to NYFW: Jason Wu, Rebecca Minkoff and Christian Siriano. “The intersection of home and style has never been more prevalent, nor has the need to curate well-designed spaces that reflect our unique lifestyles,” said the retailer on its site. “That is why this September Lowe’s and NYFW: The Shows are partnering to bring the runway home through the eyes of the fashion world’s leading designers.” Each designer selected items — including lighting, patio furniture, flooring and building materials — from Lowe’s that will serve as backdrops when they livestream their individual collections.

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