LONDON — Grappling with the digital revolution upsetting all corners of the industry, Men’s Fashion Week kicked off in London on Saturday with fewer shows and star names.

But this fixture in the British fashion calendar is attempting to stay relevant by going back to its roots, and promoting a more youthful image.

Burberry deserted the event last year and now unveils its men’s wardrobe at Women’s Fashion Week, riding the trend towards less rigidity around gender.

JW Anderson, the label of Jonathan Anderson, who is artistic director of the Spanish luxury leather goods line Loewe, has followed suit, choosing to present only two runway shows per year instead of four.

Punk icon Vivienne Westwood has now said she will be presenting her autumn-winter 2018-2019 collection not in a catwalk but “through the form of film and imagery,” according to a statement from her company.

Designers have embraced a digital transformation of the industry in recent years, including the use of Web sites and social networking platforms for advertising and selling their latest collections.

“Not only are digital and combined menswear and womenswear shows often more cost-efficient, but such strategies also present the brand in a cohesive manner, whilst reaching new audiences,” Samantha Dover, of the analysis firm Mintel, told AFP.

Kristabel Plummer, editor of the fashion blog I Want You To Know, said designers are now more practical when it comes to catwalks and called the changes “sensible business decisions.”

“There’s no point doing things in the way they’ve always been done, if that’s not right for the brand.

“Increased flexibility and innovation can only be a positive thing, in this challenging consumer landscape,” she said.

“Brands need to move at the speed the world does, and today that is fast,” Anderson told The Guardian in a recent interview.

“We live in the era of content. We put something on Instagram and it gets reposted and it’s everywhere and a minute later it’s gone, over,” he added.

The drift away from London Men’s Fashion Week by established designers has seen the number of parades drop by a dozen this year.

It has led to questions over whether the British event, the younger of the annual fashion weeks, can still compete with Paris, Milan, and New York.

Organizer The British Fashion Council hopes it can still flourish by allowing young and upcoming local designers to showcase their talents.

Caroline Rush, its chief executive, said the 2018 edition will be “a celebration of discovery and the creative diversity that has made London an international hub for menswear.”

A raft of emerging names in British fashion will feature their clothes during the schedule, including the luxury streetwear of Edward Crutchley — dubbed a “rising star” by Vogue — and the bold neo-punk hip-hop wardrobe of Liam Hodges.

They are joined by Christopher Raeburn, a pioneer in ethical fashion and recycling materials, and Astrid Andersen, who designs sportswear.

“There’s a variety of brands on the schedule,” said Plummer, pushing back on notions London Men’s Fashion Week is petering out.

“Perhaps a new gem will emerge, thanks to the extra attention,” she added. — AFP