Average read time: 6 minutes.

Fashion shows have been the traditional way of presenting new collections for many decades with an entire production machine, from models, casting directors to fashion show producers all of who bring the designer’s vision to life.

The Coronavirus pandemic has left a huge impact on every industry, fashion included. With the world being at a standstill, designers had to create new ways to showcase their brands.

Pandemic fashion

Kinshasa backless minidress by Hanifa
Kinshasa backless minidress by Hanifa

With the world at a complete standstill last year in March, it was extremely challenging and out of their comfort zones to be creative in the confined space of their homes. The freedom of bouncing off ideas in person was a thing of the past, not to mention near impossible.

Zoom meetings were the norm (still are), events became virtual, which meant designers had to follow suit with how they presented their collections. Congolese designer, Anifa Muvemba who owns the fashion brand Hanifa, shook the fashion industry last year during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, by creating a virtual fashion show using 3D models in a way that brought a fashion oasis to people’s homes where everyone had a front-row seat.

Watch it here:

This phenomenon sparked a dialogue in the fashion community prompting designers to step it up and find their virtual thread in how they should present their clothes. South African superstar designer, Rich Mnisi created short fashion films that were short, punchy, driving the message of storytelling through clothes.

Watch a snippet here:

The fashion powerhouse, Palesa Mokubung of Mantsho, had a rather cathartic experience. “I had to learn to model my items myself because of not having too many people wearing our master samples or interacting with too many people. The environment we showcased during the pandemic had a different soul. It needed the clothes to be elevated and take on a new existence,” she explains.

International labels Etro and Dolce & Gabbana held their shows in-person during Milan Digital Fashion Week. Both shows took place outdoors with a limited crowd on Dolce & Gabbana’s guests were asked to stay about three feet apart, and Etro’s chairs were arranged about six feet apart from one another. Guests were also asked to wear masks and required to get temperature checks upon arrival.

Are conventional live fashion weeks dead?

SA Fashion Week founder, CEO and matriarch, Lucilla Booyzen, has been running the prestigious fashion week for 25 years in the pursuit of creating a space for designers, both established and emerging, to grow creatively and commercially.

SA Fashion Week CEO and Founder, Lucilla Booyzen
SA Fashion Week CEO and Founder, Lucilla Booyzen

“Designers are presenting smaller collections which are more targeted. They’re tapping into their cultures and getting inspiration from what grounds them and building their collections on that,” says Booyzen.

SA Fashion Week has been instrumental in facilitating this transition and in working seamlessly with designers to help them achieve their vision of stellar collections. Booyzen states that so many more channels have opened for the designers to market and sell their collections due to alternative ways of presenting collections besides conventional fashion shows.

In her efforts to facilitate this transition, Booyzen explains that they are showing the designers in groups which is more economical for them and also connecting them to new consumers worldwide through our webinars and digital broadcasts. Booyzen adds the caveat, “there will always be fashion shows because fashion needs to be seen close up.”

With the country opening up, SA Fashion Week is back with live shows with audiences, and the media, buyers, and fashion enthusiasts alike are euphoric. SA Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2022 is from the 28th of October until the 30th of October at the Mall of Africa with the country’s designers putting their best foot forward.

Production magic

The production of a fashion show relies heavily on a fashion show producer to bring a designer’s vision to life from by-the-book ramp runway shows to elaborate spectaculars that offer a feast for the eyes.

Fashion show producer extraordinaire and now gallery owner, Deon Redman, has produced many fashion shows from Cape Town New York, and beyond for designers such as David Tlale, MaXhosa Africa, and Rich Mnisi to name a few.

Fashion show producer, Deon Redman. Photo by Richard Keppel-Smith
Fashion show producer, Deon Redman. Photo by Richard Keppel-Smith

His new venture, Show Africa Online offers a refreshingly alternative way of presenting fashion through collaboration. The pandemic forced him and the creative production industry as a whole to reinvent fashion production.

“The obvious and immediate result was the end of events and live audiences. This period of forced reflection gave way to an array of really constructive discussions with multiple designers and clients and a critical analysis of the formats of traditional runway shows. The objectives, the successes, and the failures of these events in their previous iterations. When the industry moved to virtual ‘events’ these too often lacked a key focus. What I heard repeatedly was filming models walking into a camera shot in space without an audience sought to deliver the live experience of attending a runway show, but lacked the presence and energy,” explains Redman.

Taking all this feedback on board, they worked on developing and designing an alternative view of how to present fashion using the multiple online platforms available. They also realised how all the restrictions actually leveled the playing field in an important way. “A local designer could create content that used the same platforms available to the super brands. The challenge then became how to stand out in that endless online sea. Of course, we don’t have anything close to those major budgets, but we could rely on pushing creative boundaries unlike before,” he says.

The future

The future of fashion production and the desire for fashion shows will always be there post-pandemic. But, it seems like the future of alternative fashion presentations isn’t going anywhere either.

Brands have been forced to innovate, not necessarily a bad thing. Internationally, Coach Creative Director Stuart Vevers wanted to wipe the slate clean and think differently about presenting fashion under such strange new circumstances. With the help of photographer Juergen Teller, he created a film presentation captured almost entirely Zoom across three continents. Coach also innovatively staged a show outside on a pier of the Hudson River in New York complete with skateboarders and drummers.

Watch it here:


“I think it’s the combination of an experiential event and a broadcast content package that extends that reach. It’s also about a more responsible, less wasteful, and more sustainable manner of execution. The fashion industry has finally awoken to the fact that there is much that needs to change in terms of how it operated historically and how that impact was felt in multiple ways, most of all environmentally. Everything from the material used to build a set to the kind of lighting used has an impact. We have a shared responsibility to constantly examine, assess and ensure we make better decisions moving forward,” concludes Redman. It seems we can look forward to a more hybrid, experimental, and flexible future regarding fashion presentations.


Writer | Sibusiso Mkize @sbustylegeek
Editor | Nikki Temkin @NikkiTemkin