So far this year all we have seen and heard is the coronavirus, (COVID19) starting in China and then continuing to sweep across the world. It’s no doubt it has caused an immense amount of panic and anxiety amongst everyone, and has had a huge impact on travel, entertainment and technology. Having first appeared in China, who’s population make up about 40% of customers for the luxury fashion houses, here is how this outbreak has affected the fashion industry…
Fashion week is Paris happens twice a year where the luxury fashion houses present the latest collections for the coming seasons. These events attract so many people from around the world including reporters, retailers, influencers, and many more all to attend fashion weeks. Mainly travelling from New York to London, then Milan to Paris. With the outbreak of COVID19, at the last stop in Paris on the first day of the shows the reported number of cases for coronavirus were 14, then by the last day there was more than 200. France had stopped any events with more than 5,000 people attending in a confined space.
Lots of those attending Paris Fashion week were already ill from general colds, and face masks were being handed out before the shows. Some even left early like a few high-profile American buyers and magazine editors, whilst some didn’t come at all. ‘The United States communications team for Chanel and Louis Vuitton was told to stay at home’. At Lacoste, the last show of Paris Fashion week roughly 20-30% of media guests had canceled.
At the Vuitton show, the group managing director of the company started to fist bump people instead of greeting them with a handshake or double-cheek kiss.
Coronavirus has caused many events to either cancel or postpone to later in the year across the world. For runway shows Ralph Lauren’s show in New York in April has been canceled. Gucci has cancelled in San Francisco in May as well as Prada in Tokyo. Burberry is postponing it’s April show in Shanghai, as well as Versace is postponing it’s cruise show which was scheduled for May to a undisclosed location in the United States.
Pascal Morand, the executive president of organising Paris Fashion Week said “Empty seats at shows are not the problem, it is what is happening in the showrooms, the holdups in the supply chains and what they might mean”. “It is the uncertainty and not knowing how long the situation will last”. Although the designers show their collections at these four big fashion weeks in February and September, it’s important they ultimately sell them. During intimate showroom appointments separate from the runway fashion buyers and e-commerce platforms negotiate order prices and sizes with the brands to decide what will go into store. With coronavirus this seasons orders have been down, especially affecting small independent brands where production partially takes place in China.
“There has definitely been a drop in buyers from all over the world, especially from China and Hong Kong”, said Ayse Ege a founder of Dice Kayek a luxury womens label in Paris. Ikram Goldman, the owner of the influential Ikram boutique in Chicago said that while she has cut back on orders, “with an unstable economy and late deliveries, we are taking precautions”. She said she is still trying to look for and buy from new designers “they are the future, and we can’t forget them”.
Popular global brands such as Nike and Uniqlo closed store operations across China following the coronavirus outbreak. This has already made an impact on sales, Ralph Lauren reported a decrease in sales by an estimate of 55 to 70 million dollars. Capri Holdings, who owns Versace, Michael Kors and Jimmy Choo experienced a revenue loss of 100 million dollars according to CNBC.
Although the fashion industry are going through a challenging time right now Versace has made a contribution of roughly 144 thousand dollars to the Chinese Red Cross Foundation. Hopefully we see an end to this global outbreak virus soon, but in the mean time stay safe and remember to wash your hands.
By Megan Summers