The St. Catherine University Fashion Association announced that this year, due to the unpredictable nature of the global pandemic, the Katwalk was/will be held in an online format. This is the first time in Katwalk’s 16-year history that the show was not hosted on a traditional runway in front of a live audience.
While unexpected, this virtual experience closely mirrors real-life experiences of fashion retailers who had to create online experiences that communicate the in-store experience and help customers feel connected to the brand. “Online shopping and retail has been growing, so the popularity of virtual shows is growing as well,” explained Anupama Pasricha, Ph.D., associate professor of apparel, merchandising and design at St. Kate’s. “Stores are closing but the sales are still happening. Product mix has changed based on demand but sales are strong. During pandemic, there’s been a 49% surge in sales. Brick and Mortar retailers had to quickly adapt their online presence to stay in business and relevant to the environment. The seasonal Fashion Weeks globally are rethinking their shows as digital events, so the change in our Katwalk mirrors the trend across fashion shows and retail business.”
Katwalk is produced by the Fashion Association, a student-led non-profit organization involving students who have an interest in fashion. Everything from the funding raising to the set-up for the Katwalk is completely student-led. Under normal circumstances, Katwalk draws over 300 attendees to its shows, spanning many hours over a weekend in early May. Katwalk was even included in the 2019 Minnesota Fashion Week roster of events.
Katwalk is more than a seasonal show; it’s a year-long endeavor. As Jocelyn Yang ‘21, Apparel Design major explained, “the Fashion Association students dedicate time outside of their classes, jobs and lives throughout the entire school year to put on the Katwalk every Spring semester. Katwalk not only shines a spotlight on our students’ designs or collections created in the Apparel, Merchandising and Design sewing courses, but also highlights student talents, skill sets, professionalism, design/technical skills in every aspect of the show such as planning, graphics, decorations, designs, coordination and more.”
No part of the show will be wasted in the online experience. As Pasricha explained, “we have images from the promo-shoot, and introductory videos from each designer. We also have an online ‘Look Book’ which covers everything about the collections.”
This will complement the online format, as described by Paige Boner ‘20, Fashion Merchandising major, co-president of the Fashion Association: “[There will be a] video that will highlight designers’ at-home work spaces, and maybe a model showing their look. The entire line won’t be shown, but it will give our viewers a taste of what the designers have worked so hard at.”
One major benefit of the online format is that it allows the designers’ collections to be accessed at any time of the day, and will reach a wider audience. So while the runway will only span the width of the screen, the quality portfolio-building, professional photography and showcase experience is just as real as in years past.
The Katwalk is live now on stkate.edu/lookbook. Those interested in getting more information and updates on the virtual Katwalk can visit Instagram @stkatesfashion and follow the progress on Facebook at St. Kate's Fashion Association or visit their website.