Style & Beauty

Fashion's Future? Virtual Runway Shows

Fashion week invitations might have been the hottest tickets to come by, but that was so 2009. Next year--and beyond--could be all about virtual runways, or online steams of collections' shows.

"The cost of a fashion show has become prohibitive," David Lauren, Polo Ralph Lauren's marketing chief, told Time. "And because of the economy, fewer members of the press and buyers are making the trip to New York to see the show."

Last fall, Alexander McQueen live-streamed his Paris show on his website and Louis Vuitton put its show on Facebook the season before. Viktor & Rolf and Yves Saint Laurent have also experimented with online shows.

Ralph Lauren's Rugby collegiate brand will be the next to mix fashion with tech on December 11:

Instead of walking down a real runway, the models will be walking on a treadmill, in an office with a green screen behind them. Once the whole clip is produced, a virtual backdrop will be superimposed behind the models so that they look like they are walking through New York City, or a college campus, or jumping off of flying books. The idea, says Lauren, is to bring a cinematic feeling to the brand's advertising images.

It will cost less than $50,000 to produce and will get 40 million page views, while the typical runway show costs $1.5 million for an audience of 700. Another advantage of putting it all online is the ease of encouraging viewers to purchase the items they've just seen on the e-catwalk.

But will all fashion shows make the digital leap? Not yet. Lauren said the Ralph Lauren collection will still march down fashion week's prehistoric runways.

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