Promoting American fashion both domestically and internationally has been the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s (CFDA) mission statement since its establishment in 1962. Whilst the world has been upended by an unprecedented global pandemic, they continue striving to broaden the visibility of American designers.
Earlier this year, the CFDA, helmed by chairman Tom Ford underscored the gravity of the social upheaval by renaming the New York Fashion Week show schedule. Retitled the “American Collections Calendar”, CFDA includes all American designers within the calendar and on the digital platform, RUNWAY360, regardless of location or collection release date. By digitalising fashion shows, Ford supports American designers amidst the devastating pandemic and economic downturn.
Would virtual presentations generate the same excitement as physical shows?
Tom Ford acknowledged that live fashion shows are irreplaceable. “There is something about seeing a show live: the electricity in the room, something that can’t be captured on film,” Tom Ford told Vanessa Friedman of the New York Times on Instagram Live. He also believes that being “Instagrammable” is key to “getting images of your clothes out into the world” — which would require a convergence of influencers, key opinion leaders, and celebrities.
While there seems to be no panacea for this global crisis, silver linings abound. For one, the environmental footprint of the fashion industry was somewhat reduced due to the travel bans. As these fashion professionals adapt to the new norm, they have found that traveling isn’t as necessary as they thought. Beyond that, the CFDA endeavours to work on inclusivity and diversity moving forward. “Fashion has taken so much from Black culture throughout history, so we owe a lot to the Black community,” Ford said. Released at the start of Black History Month, The State of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Fashion Report was built on a joint mission with PVH Corp. to advocate for changes. These new measures are essentially driven towards representative and equitable workplaces throughout the American fashion industry.
Despite the adversity caused by the worldwide pandemic, it has allowed the industry to reinvent the current business model and stride towards a more ethical and inclusive future. The fashion industry has often been regarded as being cavalier and wasteful. This might be a chance to re-establish the industry — through revolutionising the future of fashion.