The Fashion Awards 2020

It was all change at this year's Fashion Awards as the event showcased the industry's movers and shakers. Joanne Clark reports.

In a year when the fashion industry chose to embrace change in such a dramatic way, it was only fitting that the Fashion Awards themselves had a new format.

With live events more or less of the menu for the foreseeable future due to the pandemic, the British Fashion Council elected to present this year’s show in the form of a short film. The 30 minute piece showcased the designers, brands and creatives within the industry who are leading change and progress throughout these tumultuous twelve months.

The Awards consisted of four categories of which five honourees are nominated in each.

The creativity category highlights the designers and brands who have made an impact whether it be through their designs, campaigns or collaborations. The community category focuses on brands or designers who embrace communities or local artisans and craftsmanship. The environment category is centred around the individuals and businesses who are contributing towards a more sustainable future for fashion. Finally, the people category sheds light on the individuals who have encouraged diverse, empowering workforces throughout all aspects of their company.

The theme of this year’s awards as change couldn’t be more fitting. 2020 has been a year of constant change, confusion and instability. But it has also been a year of transformations, shaking up the industry all around us. The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that the way in which brands and fashion houses work has had to be modified.

The protests of the Black Lives Matter movement have meant that fashion industries have had to face the realities of their work and their influence. The ever-constant issue of global warming and the steps we must take to ensure the safety and sustainability of our planet has added to the urgency of the changes that the fashion industry must make. Both in order to improve its reputation and the effect it has had the environment, both locally and globally.

The Fashion Awards 2020

Fashion has an interesting relationship with change. In many ways, it is intertwined in the industry with new trends, innovations and designs displayed in grand catwalk shows biannually – or more for designers who produce Haute Couture and Resort collections.

Whole months of the calendar are struck off to be dedicated simply for the sharing of fashion collections. There are those who believe that fashion isn’t of much importance or that it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but it remains a focal point of our society whether you follow it or not.

Over the course of hundreds of years fashion itself has changed and affected change. Societal developments have been reflected and even bolstered by the fashions around them. For example, the direct correlation of women wearing trousers can be attributed to their work in munitions and on farms during the First World War.

More recently, we see the fashion as a facet to blur the lines of gender and stereotype. Every year, we see countless new designs and styles on catwalks around the world. Huge productions and complicated concepts presented on the world stage. Thousands upon thousands of hours of work, displayed in moments on catwalks, surrounded by some of the biggest names in fashion and the media. Until this year.

These are issues that the British Fashion Awards touched on when it was live streamed on Thursday 3rd December. An award show, like many others, that has had to move online due to the pandemic. It was an entirely different affair from the normal drawn-out celebration that begin with a red carpet of celebrities and carries on into the early hours. This year the ceremony was shown in the style of a short film, broadcast online to the public for the first time.

Another still from the Fashion Awards

In the category of Community, those nominated included Asai, Chanel, Emergency Designer Network, Kenneth Ize and Michael Halpern.

In the Creativity category, the honourees included Grace Wales Bonner, Jonathan Anderson, Kim Jones, Prada (Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons) and Riccardo Tisci and Burberry.

For the Environment category, nominees included Anya Hindmarch, Christopher Raeburn, Gabriela Hearst, The Fashion Pact and Stella McCartney.

Finally, for the People category, nominations included Aurora James, Edward Enninful, Lindsay Peoples Wagner and Sandrine Charles for Black in Fashion Council, Priya Ahluwalia and Samuel Ross.

For the third year in a row, the British Fashion Council also assembled a list of new and emerging talent under the title of NEW WAVE: Creatives 2020.

Throughout the film, there were various presenters – one factor of the award show that hadn’t changed – including David Beckham, Maisie Williams, Lewis Hamilton and the British Fashion Council’s ambassador for positive change Priyanka Chopra Jonas.

The inclusion of Priyanka Chopra Jonas seemed particularly fitting, especially this year, given the emphasis that the British Fashion Council has put on the idea of fashion being a vehicle for change, as well as transforming itself.

The awards were an insight into what can be done in the midst of a global pandemic and what seems like a world that is shifting and altering every single day. It was a testament as to what can be done with creativity, organisation, imagination and pure resourcefulness, able to still celebrate change-makers, inventors and those who inspire us in a time of uncertainty and unpredictability.

There were many differences this year from the regular fashion awards, one of the biggest being that of the 20 honourees that were given awards for their efforts and achievements. There were no ‘winners’ or ‘losers’, no-one lost out to an award – everyone who was nominated received one. In an award show dedicated to positive changes and actions, amongst the year we’ve had, it seemed fitting that everyone in each category was celebrated.


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