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“We need every part of culture we can get our hands on"

Sara Blonstein, Founder and Creative Director at Blonstein, lifts the lid on the British Fashion Council's NEWGEN partnership with TikTok and the future of hybrid events.

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director

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“This fashion week, people are going to dress for an audience. We will all be looking forward to the live shows and that element of theatre.” Sara Blonstein, the Founder and Creative Director at Blonstein and the agency behind TIkTok’s groundbreaking collaboration with the British Fashion Council (BFC) is ready for the return of live events.

In the wake of the Coronavirus crisis that has seen all too many of us retreat into the comfort of Athleisure, the opportunity to dress up, to just dress differently, or to simply admire others doing the same, is uniquely appealing.

“Fashion is culture,” explains Blonstein, “and we need every part of culture we can get our hands on.” This increasingly extends to creator culture; the diverse and vibrant pool of creators using social platforms such as TikTok as their own personal runway, anyway they like.

TikTok Culture

Blonstein is explaining the ethos and thinking behind the BFC’s collaboration with TikTok. For while we may well be collectively deprived of real life experience, TikTok was one of a number of social platforms which helped to fill that void.  “TikTok is an engine room of creators,” she says.

In the wake of a pandemic which dramatically called a halt to the catwalk strut, TikTok became a key platform for self expression. From dancing to fashion, the social platform allowed consumers to share their style and voice in their own unique way, at a time when we were all physically disconnected.

It’s this connection which lies at the heart of the British Fashion Council’s partnership with TikTok, with the social platform becoming the Principal Partner for NEWGEN. NEWGEN is the BFC’s well-established talent programme, which supports and elevates the global fashion brands of the future.

As part of the partnership former NEWGEN winners such as Henry Holland have explained the power the NEWGEN platform has on a TikTok reel. While, TikTok has also created a Fashion Hub for all fashion content on TikTok, which features a range of content including body positive fashion finds and outfit transition videos. 

Global brands built on social advertising are the future.

Sara Blonstein, Founder and Creative Director at Blonstein

Hybrid events 

“TikTok is more than a sponsor for NEWGEN, they are really creating the space,” explains Blonstein. Notably, at a time when the industry is grappling with questions surrounding exactly what a hybrid physical and digital event looks like in principle, this partnership solves that particular conundrum from the outset. 

“In the past, a lot of shows have been dictated by the audience,” explains Blonstein, noting the fact that fashion show spaces have to be considered through that very practical lens of fitting the audience into the space. Yet partnering with TikTok can make that space far more fluid and more inclusive by design.

Yet Blonstein is clear that alongside the digital space, the physical setting for a show remains vital. To this end the agency has secured The Old Selfridges Hotel, a semi-derelict, vibrant backdrop to the physical show. “It’s vital that we support the regeneration of spaces and venues post-Covid,” Blonstein adds.

The space will also be specifically designed with TikTok in mind; featuring a circular runway with cameras at the centre. An approach which will enable the creation of truly immersive content from the show. 

Creator Culture

For Blonstein, TikTok is rock and roll. “It’s quite raw and authentic. It is important for fashion to be exciting and there is an element of things being done differently which is engaging,” she explains.

Doing things differently also extends to pitching (notably Blonstein pitched for the TikTok business with a TikTok creator). “This kind of partnership will bring NEWGEN to a wider audience and one that goes beyond fashion,” she explains. “Global brands built on social advertising are the future.”

Yet that doesn’t mean Fashion Week will lose those moments that make it special, or that digital channels will grow at the expense of that ever-elusive but nonetheless gripping real-life experience. Blonstein observes: “There is an element of fashion that has to be niche. Yes there are huge global brands, but they retain that nicheness. You don't want to democratize fashion in a way that it doesn't become covetable.”

As Blonstein explains so eloquently, the creativity, quirkiness and interest that a designer must generate to ‘sell out’ remains dependent on not selling out creatively. Elevating and opening up physical spaces through digital platforms such as TikTok and harnessing the power of creator culture will increasingly be key to amplifying that creativity.

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