From July 14 to 17, Milan Fashion Week will be happening in a new digital format, intended to unite Italian fashion designers and promote their messages across virtual platforms. “The idea of this digital Fashion Week is to have something a bit different from a normal Fashion Week. It’s something we thought of specially for the digital world,” Carlo Capasa, the president of the Camera della Moda, tells Vogue. The week, postponed from MFW’s traditional spot mid-June, is open to menswear and womenswear designers who wish to present both pre- and main season collections, the expectation being that some will show resort 2021 while a few menswear designers might have men’s spring 2021 lines ready.

“It’s something very mixed,” Capasa continued. “Everybody can decide their own message. The advantage is that in a digital world, you are completely free. You find your way of expression. We said to everybody, ‘You have from one minute to 15 minutes, and you decide what you want to show.’” For some, like Ermenegildo Zegna, which has announced a combined physical-digital runway show for mid-July, the content might resemble a more traditional runway show or look book, but for others, it could be “a fashion movie, or a backstage [photo], or an interview.”

Officially named Milano Fashion Week Digital, the online-only Fashion Week follows in the footsteps of Shanghai Digital Fashion Week and Helsinki’s virtual Fashion Week this April and will follow London’s digital Fashion Week, which is slated for early June. From July 14 to 17, the Camera della Moda will use its website and its social media platforms to broadcast the message of Italian fashion around the world. There will also be virtual showrooms and panels. This follows the Camera’s successful digi-fication of Milan’s fall 2020 ready-to-wear shows in China, where it drew almost 17 million live viewers on Tencent and 9 million on Weibo. “This was an extraordinary result, considering it was the first time. We thought this must be something we always have alongside the [physical] Fashion Week,” Capasa said.

The Camera president insists that a digital Fashion Week cannot—and should not—replace the physical shows that are still scheduled, in some capacity, for September. “This does not exclude the fact that in September we are going to have, we hope, an almost regular Fashion Week,” Capasa says. Come September, you will certainly find a Giorgio Armani show. The designer announced today that both his Giorgio Armani and Emporio Armani brands will show women’s and men’s spring 2021 at Milan Fashion Week, following through on an earlier announcement that Milan’s menswear week would be combined with its womenswear shows in September.

The point of the digital fashion “issues,” as Capasa calls them, is to be able to shine a light on Italian fashion whenever necessary. “This means that we could have an issue any time we want: It could be once a year, twice a year, once every two years. We can have a digital issue any time where we have a space where you are free to express yourself,” he says. The decision to have the first one in July, he continues, was to help designers large and small have a crucial sales period before the September shows.

“Most of those collections in July, they will be small collections because the time is limited. We had our factories closed [for a] very long [time]. But I think some collections can be small, but significant. I actually think today, it’s almost better to have a small-but-significant collection,” he concludes. The hope is that if this digital Fashion Week is effective, it might inspire consumers to be more conscious with their spending and travel and encourage brands to consider using their resources more sustainably. “It’s always a challenge when you try to do something new. Let’s see what happens,” he says. “We hope we can bring some nice energy with this new attitude that we all have to have a more conscious attitude.”

Previously published on US Vogue.