There are four big events in the fashion industry. The New York, Paris, and Milan Fashion Weeks have their place, but for many fashion experts and aficionados, it’s all about what happens at London Fashion Week. A latecomer to the ‘big four’, the very first London Fashion Week was launched in 1984 and was based in a car park in West London. Now, it’s visited by more people than the Milan and Paris events combined and is second only to New York in terms of money generated and visitor numbers. Once considered the underdog in fashion, London Fashion Week has defied all expectations and is now one of the most important fashion events of the year.
The first-ever London Fashion might have been a bit rough in terms of location, but it excelled with its guest designers. Not only was Vivienne Westwood there to showcase her newest collection, but so too was influential designer John Galliano. The debut by Galliano was the launch of an incredible (if controversial) career that saw him named as the British Fashion Designer of the Year five times! Galliano’s debut collection was such a success that it was immediately bought in its entirety by Joan Burnstein of Browns. Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen also made their debuts at London Fashion Week, while Simone Rocha debuted her graduate collection at the event in 2016. Now she is worn by some of the most stylish women in the world and was named the Womenswear Designer of the Year when her collection was showcased.
It’s not just the fashion side of things that makes London Fashion Week so important. No longer held in a car park, the 2020 event was visited by more than 100,000 people. Research by Betway highlights that Milan Fashion Week generally attracts around 22,500 visitors and Paris Fashion Week around 30,000. That means London far exceeds these much older events. Only the New York Fashion Week attracts more visitors than London, with around 150,000 every year. Of course, the February 2021 event had to change and move online due to global nonsense, but that didn’t stop it. All of the catwalk shows were live-streamed, and collections were showcased and sold online in digital showrooms.
Controversies and Guests
In 1984, there were only 15 catwalk shows. In 2020, there were 72. That means it was five times bigger than when it started, and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon. It’s had its share of controversies and outrage. From Naomi Campbell going topless for the Philip Treacy collection to political and social protests, the media have just as much interest in London Fashion Week as the models, designers, and fans. And with guests as diverse as the Beckhams, Princess Diana, Margaret Thatcher, and even the Queen herself, it’s no surprise that visitors snatch up tickets quickly on the off-chance of seeing the rich and famous as much as the collections.
London Fashion Week might have gone through some changes since its launch in 1984, but it remains more important than ever.