The Journey of London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week
London Fashion Week

Even if you are not directly a part of it, you will have to acknowledge that the fashion industry is a big one. In the UK alone, it contributes nearly 26 billion euros per year to the economy, which is 4.1 billion euros more than the food and beverage industry combined.

Since we are talking about the UK scene, it is natural for us to bring up London Fashion Week. Catwalk season is upon us, and we need to acknowledge one of the biggest fashion events in the world.

For all of you who don’t know, and for those who already know what it is, with the information provided by a research piece we found at Betway, let’s take a bit of our time to revisit how this massive phenomenon came to be— the journey of the London Fashion Week.

Humble beginnings

The fashion world is all about glamour, shimmer, and shine. The London Fashion Week, with its large-scale execution, is no different. It might be the youngest of the Big Four (New York, Paris, and Milan Fashion Weeks), but it is still well acknowledged. It has had some VIP individuals as its guests, including Princess Diana, Queen Elizabeth II, and Margaret Thatcher. However, despite the way it is now, it had very humble beginnings.

Let us go back to February of 1984— a year after the British Fashion Council was formed, when the London Fashion Week was first held at the Commonwealth Institute’s car park in Kensington, west of London.

The catwalk shows, and presentations all took place in a tent erected outside the institute. There were only 15 catwalk shows that took place that year. Despite the lack in number, its quality was what turned it into a success. Better yet, it was successful enough to get the British government to acknowledge it, and fund it for the coming years, securing a long-term future for the London Fashion Week.

As years passed, the London Fashion Week kept evolving, expanding, and growing bigger over time. It soon started attracting well-known fashion icons, models, and designers from all over the world. Today, it remains one of the biggest, well-respected, and phenomenal events in the fashion industry.

In 2020 alone, before the pandemic, the London Fashion Week saw a turnover of around 100,000 people with over 5,000 guests, proving the kind of level up it has achieved over the last 37 years.

2020 saw a total of 72 scheduled presentations and catwalk shows, which is almost five times more than what happened in 1984.By the way, with more than 250 invited designers to showcase their designs and collections. The orders taken from the shows themselves exceeded 100 million euros.

The London Fashion Week is mainly hosted indoors at Store X on the Strand, in central London now, whereas additional exhibitions are hosted in marquees at the Somerset House courtyard. Now isn’t that a major glow up from the tents in the car park of the Commonwealth Institute?

The Big Four

When we talk about the London Fashion Week, it would be a mistake not to talk about the Big Four. The Big Four comprises the most prominent fashion weeks around the world. These include the fashion weeks held in New York, Milan, Paris, and London.

Though London was the most recent to join the others, if compared, we can easily see how far it has come in such a short period. New York, being the first, was first held in 1943, followed by Milan and Paris in 1958 and 1973, respectively. Then, in 1984 London eventually joined the parade. Despite that, the London Fashion Week contributes an estimated 269 million euros to the city every year.

If compared on the basis of the number of visitors, London comes second to New York with its 105,000 visitors. Milan and Paris, on the other hand, witness 22,500 and 30,000 visitors, respectively. With that, you can kind of make out just how big of a deal the London Fashion Week has made itself to be.

But the evolution and impact of London Fashion Week would be unfair to be judged by just economics and numbers. It is more remarkable, because it plays an essential role in launching new talent and careers. It is known to launch one of the most influential designers around the globe.

It started its job as early as the first fashion week by launching John Galliano, who has been the winner of the British Fashion Designer of the Year five times. Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen are among the other designers that were launched by the London Fashion Week.

The one who breathed new life into the hat-making industry in the UK, and the five-time-winner of British Accessory Designer of the Year, Phillip Treacy too, started at the London Fashion Week.

The 2010 London Fashion Week debuted Simone Rocha, legendary designer John Rocha’s daughter, who was later given the title of Womenswear Designer of the Year (2016). Her designs were seen to be worn by celebrities, including Michelle Obama and Kate Middleton.        

In the present

With the pandemic, every industry has taken a hit, and the fashion industry has been no exception. As big as it is, the London Fashion Week has witnessed its fair share of hurdles and challenges during this challenging time.

Yet, it should not stop and cannot be stopped. To survive, one needs to innovate, and the London Fashion Week has done just that. Due to the circumstances, the London Fashion Week has taken the online approach.

All its shows, presentations, and exhibitions are being streamed online in February 2021. Every collection is being revealed virtually, and every design is sold online in virtual showrooms.

Starting from a tent in a car park to the global phenomenon today, the London Fashion Week has grown and evolved in the past 37 years. Even though the situations are not as favorable as they seem, given their past endeavors, we know for a fact that this year too, the London Fashion Week will strut its way to success.