Virtual fashion festival The Front Row by Daniel Boey returns on 27 August 2021 for the second time, with a shift of focus from sustainability to that of conscious consumption.
This year, organisers Daniel Boey Creatives and AP Media continue to expand the boundaries of their digital universe, bringing together local and international designers, fashion photographers, models and industry legends in a compelling extravagant, free-to-view online experience. In line with brand’s digital strategies that have been accelerated by the pandemic since 2020, The Front Row provides experiences with a human touch.
The ‘see now, buy now’ format allows The Front Row to reach not only local audience, but a global market through digital streams and shoppable runways.
We go behind the scenes with Singapore’s Godfather of Fashion Daniel Boey who shares with us his vision behind this epic production.
My vision for the second edition is to showcase a future of fashion that is responsible, inclusive and seasonless, by bringing on board more local and regional fashion labels that share the same ethos and business practices – such as that of Jude Ng, ITTSwim, Sean Sheila, OliveAnkara and TRIA The Label, and prompting more open conversations in the form of podcasts and model chats.
In addition to that, the issue of diversity and inclusivity is now more important than ever because of ongoing discourses about race and gender inclusivity worldwide. These pressing issues and conversations about them cannot simply be another trend for the season. And this is why this year’s The Front Row hopes to bring together like-minded fashion creatives and businesses who are open to fostering positive partnerships and collaborations, uplifting and supporting partners and competitors alike, especially during tough times like these, so that we can look towards a more sustainable and inclusive future of fashion,” quips Boey.
One of the key features of The Front Row’s fashion shows is the 360-degree 3D fashion village that comprises films shot on full scale Extended Reality (XR) sets, transformed into a 3D world. “This year’s version will be set in a beautiful pastel teal and blue-hued metaverse world, and aside from being able to teleport between different locations, viewers can actually move around the environment and experience everything in real time. The festival will also be incorporating Augmented Reality (AR) showcases for our runway shows to create a more immersive experience, said Boey, “which continues to be staged in a virtual world against a backdrop of iconic local landmarks and familiar locations.”
Spotlighting homegrown labels and fashion education
Among the 10 local and 9 international labels featured is the aforementioned homegrown swimwear label ITT Swim, which makes their garments with Econyl, a recycled fabric made from plastic waste that’s also used by fashion powerhouses like Prada and Gucci. Sean Sheila, a luxury Indonesian brand, works with disabled tailors, providing them with training, food and lodging, as well as above industry average wages.
It is not just runways and beautiful, responsibly-made clothes. This year’s festival will also see the The Front Row delve into topics about fashion education in the pandemic, the outlook of the local fashion industry, how the definition of beauty is changing, and how local modelling agencies are keeping up with the evolving standards of beauty by becoming more representative and inclusive.
International line-up featured in 3D Virtual Gallery
Internationally renowned photography duo Chuando & Frey will be showcasing their iconic work in a 3D virtual gallery, alongside fellow lensmen celebrity photographer Filbert Kung, as well as The Front Row’s campaign photographer Hans Goh with his first online exhibition. French paper artist and set designer Marianne Guély, whose ephemeral artworks have been commissioned by Dior and Piaget, will also be holding an exhibition. Podcasts, including one with top 90s model Junita Simon, livestreamed shows and workshops are also part of the program.
Pushing the boundaries between fashion and technology
One way that fashion is breaking new ground is through technology, such as virtual influencers and popular fast-fashion online chains. Just as creatives in the fashion industry continually challenge the status quo, advancements in technology are constantly redefining what’s possible. To Boey, there are several pluses to a digitised fashion world with the limitless capabilities that can be harnessed by technology.
“A digital show gives us the reach that a physical show can’t. Digital shows are also more sustainable, eco-friendly and a more responsible way of creating fashion content without the need for grand venue set-ups that generate massive amounts of waste. Although a live show gives me an adrenaline rush every time, when I get to cue models and tech in real time and hear the validation from the audiences at the end of it, a virtual show allows me to take the show out of the constraints of a live show venue, and experiment with out-of-the-ordinary locations and landmarks, giving it an added layer of aesthetics and storytelling element to more effectively bring out each design piece or label without having to spend Chanel-esque budgets to build fantastical sets.”
In addition, Singapore’s top virtual influencer Rae, that has got her hair done by Kim Robinson and recently dropped a tracked with Benjamin Kheng, is one of the faces of this year’s campaign. Rae poses together with real life models Diya Prabhakar, Lisa Van Duren, Alexis Cooke and Srri Raam for the festival’s campaign shot that aims to champion inclusivity and diversity.
What exactly is it that makes the introduction of a virtual being, digital artist and most recently, NFT minter, so compelling?
“Rae embodies the latest development in digital trends and content creation by pushing the boundaries of real and virtual realms. With the future of fashion and digital transformation at the heart of TFR 2021, having a virtual influencer as one of the faces of our campaign shoot will provide a whole new perspective and set the tone for future editions.”
How does one practise responsible fashion consumption, especially with the rising popularity of online retailers like SHEIN?
“I won’t go into too much detail but I’m sure most of us should be aware of the downsides of shopping from fast fashion, even more so with SHEIN. Although SHEIN started an incubator called SHEIN X to support emerging talents designing under the company’s umbrella, and a fashion design competition called SHEIN X 100K Challenge on their app and social media channels, there is much to be questioned about their sustainability, fair labour practices, and how they’ve been copying the works of small designers. Slow fashion pieces are more thoughtfully created, more carefully and ethically made. You can shout about sustainability but a truly responsible fashion consumer expects more – supply chain transparency, fair wages and opportunities, conscious production practices, environmentally-friendly and sustainably-sourced materials, just to name a few. Support labels that believe in these aspects of conscious consumption; keep an eye out for the ones whose brand ethos align with yours.
Transformative power of blockchain
Boey is also a firm believer of blockchain in relation to the future of fashion and transformation of the industry to weed out counterfeit goods, he adds: “Blockchain is an excellent solution for traceability and transparency of a brand’s supply chain. On the sustainability front, the capabilities of blockchain technology to store and share information about sources and supply chains, for example, enables consumers to shop with a peace of mind knowing that the labels they support are transparent about every step of the manufacturing process.”
The industry veteran wears an attitude of cautious optimism over our fashion future. “Over the course of a rather reflective pandemic year, the fashion industry has seen a growing appreciation for slow, seasonless fashion that is more responsibly and ethically made. Labels are starting to realise that they have a very important part to play in the preservation of the earth, and it’s heartening to see so many who have stepped up. And realising that being responsible is not just about recycling or upcycling pieces.
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