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With large gatherings cancelled, Shanghai Fashion Week joins Alibaba to livestream runway

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many fashion events around the world to cancel.

Photo:Shutterstock.com

Shanghai Fashion Week organizers are livestreaming their entire roster of runway shows on Alibaba’s Taobao app and on Taobao Live, Alibaba’s dedicated livestreaming channel, between March 24 and 30, as many events have been forced to cancel or reschedule amid the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 150 brands and designers from around the world, including Diane von Furstenberg, Chinese independent designers Shushu/Tong, and Angel Chen, began showcasing their latest autumn-winter collections via the digital platforms on 6:00 pm Tuesday.

Photo by KrASIA: A screenshot of one livestreamed show on the Taobao app.

Within 20 minutes of kick-off, the online event garnered more than 667,000 viewers on Taobao, KrASIA found.

Unlike traditional fashion events, viewers of this year’s Shanghai Fashion Week can immediately purchase items they see on the runway when watching the livestream, without having to wait for collections to hit the shelves.

This year’s fashion week comes as the coronavirus pandemic forces cancellations and rescheduling for global fashion events, including many in Milan Fashion Week originally scheduled for February.

Alibaba is no stranger to leveraging livestreaming across a variety of sectors. In less than nine hours on November 11, 2019—corresponding to 11/11, a day that’s become a “shopping holiday” in China equivalent to Black Friday—a total of RMB 10 billion (USD 1.4 billion) worth of goods were purchased via Taobao or Tmall by users watching online celebrities’ livestream channels.

Shanghai Fashion Week is not alone in pivoting online amid current circumstances. Wuhan University, whose campus is one of the most famous spots for cherry blossoms in China, broadcast the bloom live on Taobao in partnership with Fliggy, Alibaba’s online travel platform.