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Fashion week – to digitalise or not to digitalise? That is the question.

Below-the-knee skirts, collage fabric mixes, 65 catwalk shows, 170 designers, a 32 metre digital screen in Piccadilly Circus and a worldwide audience. Put them all together and what have you got? Why, it’s London fashion week 2011.

2011’s autumn/winter collections were revealed last week at London’s Somerset House, but it seems there’s just as much talk about how the shows were viewed as the designs themselves.

The British Fashion Council aimed to reach a wider audience than ever before –  streaming 37 of the Week’s shows online.

British heritage brand, Burberry, also reached out to the masses, achieving global fashion domination by streaming its show live to 150 countries and a 32 metre digital screen in Piccadilly Circus.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in London… Commuters got daily updates on screens at over 60 tube stations, while those who were lucky enough not to be wrestling their way onto a packed tube train chilled out at the open-air café at Somerset house and watched the shows on an outdoor screen.

To digitalise or not to digitalise? That is quite a controversial question within the world of fashion.

The answer for leading fashion designer, Tom Ford, would be a resounding ‘No’. Setting strict embargos on information about his fashion lines, he wants his collections to be seen closer to the date they hit stores, rather than making them accessible to the world as soon as they hit the catwalk.

But why so much fuss? Ford is of the school of thought that mass-fashion, like this year’s London Fashion Week, makes it less luxurious.

But the British Fashion Council’s CEO, Caroline Rush, is looking at it from a different point of view: “Showcasing digitally is a fantastic opportunity for our designers to reach global audiences without obviously having to have those big advertising budgets.”

And surely, catwalk fashion is still ‘luxurious’ enough for a lot of people not to be able to afford it. So Ford doesn’t need to worry about his collections going from riches to rags as soon as they are touched by the digerati.

So… to digitalise or not to digitalise? Fashion for the masses, we say!