May 2nd, 2019, 02:30 PM

Yang Li: The Introduction of the Digital Runway

By Tahira Talout
YANG LI AW "AUTOMATIC SHOW" Image credit: Yang Li Instagram
Designer Yang Li launched his entire AW 2019 ready-to-wear collection via Instagram

Yang Li, 32, is a fashion designer and the creative director of his London-based label. For this season’s fall/ winter ready-to-wear collection, he did something slightly unconventional yet entirely in-line with the ever-evolving digital era. Rather than showing on the traditional runway, he launched his collection on Instagram. Each of his 43 looks were individually wrapped and sent to an influencer, artist, musician, or model around the world, and they were asked to take a photograph in their outfit, and all post the photo on Instagram simultaneously. By 4pm Paris time, all of these women, along with the Yang Li Instagram account itself, launched the new line.


YANG LI AW19 “AUTOMATIC SHOW” Manifesto 28th Feb 4pm GMT +1 #yangli #yangliaw19

A post shared by YANG LI (@yangli) on


What is most interesting about this approach is the ways in which the clothing Li designed could really be seen in the lives of others, which according to Li, is “how clothes should be.” In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily, Li went on, “I think with fashion it’s adding to someone’s life.” Li confessed that the process for him was exciting as well, and that the women he asked to sport his looks were thrilled and equally invested in the project.

Li expressed that one of the great surprises  coming out of this  experiment were the positive reactions from the models themselves. “I’ve had some girls sending me messages or calling me whilst they’re getting the clothes, like for example this girl, you know, she was out and about… and she was so emotional that she called me and she said ‘I can’t believe that fashion makes you feel like that.’ She told me she could wear it for 10 minutes in a show, but here she could go and have a drink, and see friends…”


WELCOME TO THE SHOW- YANG LI AW19 “AUTOMATIC SHOW” @yangli #yangli #yangliaw19

A post shared by Ruby Aldridge (@rubyaldridge) on


And it was a powerful move, not only with regard to the connection the models made with the clothing, but also in connecting the fashion world with digital media. Li received widespread attention after this launching from press, and as a result has had a lot of people talking about the future of the Fashion Show. As technology advances and social media continues to evolve, these shifts are being reflected in the fashion world, especially with regard to the runway. Social media technology today has allowed for attendees to live stream shows, ultimately increasing real-time interaction. What Li did was take this one step further, eliminating the show altogether, significantly cutting costs, while still utilizing social media as a medium for consumers to interact with the collection.

One critique of this unconventional method of display might be the lack of movement. In fashion, the way the garment moves is an important consideration. Another is the removal from the emotional experience which a full show provides for its audience. Despite the relationship the models build with the clothes in Li’s approach, the models aren’t the one’s making purchases. 

Nevertheless, this sheds some light on the perpetual question in the industry: could this spell the end of the runway?