Invitations to a fashion week were once limited to a small, elite crowd of fashion influencers in an even smaller number of style-savvy cities.

That changed when fashion blogging began. The ability to shoot and share a runway show in real time via social media eroded that exclusivity even more. Then there's the rise of fast fashion, which allows brands to make and sell clothes almost as quickly as high-end designers can send them down a catwalk.

Does this mean the fashion week model is broken? Will there be ripple effects from Milan to Manhattan? Not necessarily, but things are certainly changing.

Toronto Fashion Week's organizers announced in January that they planned to "pause production" this winter of the biannual event "to rethink the platform and focus on how best to engage the industry, support designers and resonate with consumers across the country," according to a statement shared on its social media platforms.

This isn't the first time Toronto Fashion Week has taken a timeout. Limited funding prompted a hiatus in 2016. Then it got a new owner and was scaled back from seven to three days.

Nevertheless, this news has once more raised the question of runway shows' relevance.

"It's a complicated question and answer," said Julia DiNardo, who is the founder of and teaches fashion studies courses at New York University. "What is the significance of having a fashion week anymore? What does it stand for? I think it brings up a lot of different elements that have come into play the last 10 years with the rise of digital culture and social media."

Many designers are embracing social media in creative ways. While Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger continue to bring together fashion's who's who for a show, other brands have opted for digital presentations.

Bahrain-born designer Misha Nonoo, for instance, has made headlines in recent years for unveiling new collections on Instagram instead of staging a traditional runway show. Others have held an in-person event with a small group of invited guests while also streaming it live online.

"Big brands have deep pockets. They have the resources to do something spectacular," DiNardo said. "For everyone else, how do you get eyes on your brand? If there are other ways you can capitalize on that for less of an expense, why not?"

But change isn't necessarily a bad thing, she said.

"From a sociological standpoint, there's definitely going to come a point maybe 20 years from now when we're going to tell our children, 'We use to see clothes and a model would walk down a runway and we'd see them for 20 seconds and maybe we'd see them and buy the clothes in four months.'

"That idea will sound insane," DiNardo said.