(Photo: Francois Guillot / AFP / Getty Images)

the future of Balmain’s runway shows according to Olivier Rousteing

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is changing every industry as we know it, especially fashion with some brand diverting production of their products to help supply the high demand for medical supplies. As a result of COVID-19 a majority of the fashion industry is looking to make changes on the runway and considering the future of fashion shows, including the creative director of Balmain, Olivier Rousteing.

Rousteing is known for putting Balmain back on the map with his modern designs incorporating the fine work that French fashion is known for, especially his intimate runway shows. One of the biggest things to consider when looking to the future of fashion shows is the avoided shift from hosting an in-person experience to focusing more on a digital experience.

When looking at the viewing numbers for runway shows, more people can see it online rather than in-person. For example, a standard runway show during Paris Fashion Week hosts 600 guests in-person; 8,000 people watch on YouTube; 60,000 people watch on Instagram; 300,000 people comment about it on Twitter. The total possible audience online is around 10 million viewers including streaming and replays compared to only 600 people seeing the collection in-person.

Rousteing has a concept of bringing his fashion shows to the streets of Paris to break the confinement of red ropes and connections needed to attend a fashion show, including more people in the fashion narrative. One of the biggest concerns of digitizing a runway experience is that the digital version won’t be the same as experiencing the real thing in-person.


Rousteing isn’t hesitant going digital and thinks that it can push your dreams to the next level which is one of the long-standing tenants of fashion. He also says that doing digital shows can also create more open opportunities to collaborate with digital artists and creating transforming virtual realities.

Rousteing goes onto say that fashion shows used to be about applause to create an emotional connection with the audience but with social media, people are posting as a response to the emotional connection of the show so. With more people making emotional connections through social media, it’s reasonable to consider the digital shift of fashion shows.