Coronavirus Impact: How the Epidemic Has Impacted the Fashion Industry

Layla Ilchi
·22 min read

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The global spread of the coronavirus is continuously impacting the fashion industry. Keep checking this article for updates on how brands are responding to the virus.

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, so does its impact.

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COVID-19 has steadily spread across the world since it originated in Wuhan City in the Hubei Province of China, with roughly 201,000 cases and 8,204 deaths globally as of March 18, according to the New York Times. Many European nations including France, Spain, Germany and Italy — which is experiencing the second highest number of cases globally with over 30,000 cases — are on partial or total lockdown in an effort to contain the virus.

The virus is increasingly having a negative impact on the fashion industry specifically, having escalated in the midst of the fall 2020 fashion month season, causing brands and design houses to shutter their doors and postpone upcoming runway shows. Major events, including the Met Gala and the CFDA Awards, have also been postponed indefinitely. Department stores across the globe, including Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Selfridges and Saks Fifth Avenue, have closed their doors.

Read More: How the Coronavirus Is Impacting Fashion, Beauty and Retail

As the virus continues to spread, a number of high-profile figures have been tested positive for COVID-19, including actors Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson and Idris Elba and Something Navy founder and influencer Arielle Charnas.

Here, WWD breaks down the ways that the pandemic has impacted the fashion industry.

Design Houses and Brands:

COVID-19 has led to the postponement or cancellation of a number of fashion shows for the fall 2020 and resort seasons, including the following:

Agnès B.:

Agnès B. announced that it is canceling its fall 2020 co-ed show, which would have taken place on March 2 in Paris. Instead the brand will release a film and images on March 3.

A.P.C.:

A.P.C. has canceled its fall 2020 fashion show, scheduled for March 2. “For us at A.P.C., a fashion show is a celebration, and an opportunity for carefreeness and sharing,” the label stated. “Given the uncertainties linked to the spread of the coronavirus, we prefer to cancel […] our [fall 2020] fashion show.”

Armani:

Giorgio Armani revealed on Feb. 22 that he would no longer be hosting a public runway show in Milan for his fall 2020 collection, rather the show was filmed in an empty theater and posted on the brand’s web site and social media platforms. The company has also closed its offices and plants in Northern Italy for the next week.

“The decision was made to avoid exposing guests to any dangers to their health,” said a company spokesperson.

The designer then revealed on March 5 that we will be postponing his cruise 2021 show in Dubai, which was slated for April 19 and 20. The event would have coincided with the reopening of the Giorgio Armani boutique at the Dubai Mall and marking the first decade of the Armani Hotel in the city. The event is now scheduled for November.

The design house then revealed on March 8 that it is working to fight the spread of COVID-19, donating 1.25 million euros to a number of Italian hospitals and institutions.

Burberry:

Burberry has postponed its fall 2020 Shanghai show, which was initially slated for April 23. The show was meant to debut exclusive pieces made for the region. A new date has not yet been revealed.

Cartier:

Cartier canceled its accessories presentation, Cartier Creations, that was scheduled for March 3.

“In light of the concerns associated with international travel at this time, your safety and well-being — and that of our team — are top priority.” The Richemont-owned label added that it planned to show the accessories “in the days ahead,” without specifying the format.

“Please stay tuned for further updates,” it said in an email.

Dior:

Dior announced on March 16 that it is canceling its resort 2021 show in Italy on May 9.

Chanel:

Chanel revealed on Feb. 17 that it has postponed the restaging of its Métiers d’Art show in Beijing, which was planned for this May. The collection was initially presented in Paris on Dec. 4. The design house announced on March 16 that it is also canceling the restaging of its Métiers d’Art show on London on June 4.

“Considering the current situation and following the guidance of Chinese authorities, Chanel has decided to postpone its project of a replica of the Paris — 31 Rue Cambon 2019/20 Métiers d’Art collection in May in Beijing to a later date and more appropriate moment,” the design house said in a statement. A new date for the show has not yet been revealed.

The design house also revealed that it has barred its U.S. staff from traveling to Paris for its upcoming fall 2020 show on March 3.

On March 17, the design house announced it is canceling its cruise 2021 show in Capri, Italy on May 7.

The company then announced on March 18 it is halting production in its facilities in Italy, France and Switzerland for the next two weeks, however, workers will still be paid.

Glossier:

Beauty brand Glossier announced on Instagram on March 12 that it will be closing its permanent and pop-up locations in New York, Los Angeles, London and Atlanta for at least two weeks because of the outbreak. The opening of its Arizona store, which was scheduled to open on March 18, has now been postponed.

Gucci:

Gucci has canceled its cruise 2021 fashion show in San Francisco on May 18, the design house revealed on March 2, due to the “ongoing uncertainty prompted by the coronavirus outbreak, as a precautionary measure.” The design house stated it will reveal a new date and location at a later time.

On March 10, chief executive officer Marco Bizzarri announced he would be making a personal donation of 100,000 euros to a range of hospitals in Italy’s Emilia Romagna region to help combat the virus.

The design house then announced on March 12 that it will close its six Italian production sites until March 20 as a precautionary measure. The decision comes after the country went on lockdown on March 9 in an effort to contain the virus.

Hermès:

Hermès has canceled its resort 2021 show in London on April 28.

The design house of also canceling its annual Saut Hermès show jumping competition slated for March 20 to 22 at the Grand Palais in Paris.

Louis Vuitton:

Louis Vuitton’s fall 2020 show is still slated for March 3, however the design house is also prohibiting its U.S. staff from traveling to Paris for the show.

Max Mara:

Max Mara has canceled its resort 2021 show in St. Petersburg on May 25.

Prada:

Prada also plans to postpone its upcoming resort 2021 show, which was initially planned for May 21 in Japan.

“The decision was made as a precautionary measure as well as an act of responsibility and respect for all the people working on and planning to attend our resort 2021 show,” the company said.

The design house will reveal a new location and date at a later time.

Ralph Lauren:

Ralph Lauren has canceled his upcoming fall 2020 fashion show scheduled for April in New York. The designer had skipped out on last month’s New York Fashion Week, revealing he would instead be showing at an unspecified time in April.

Rosie Assoulin:

Rosie Assoulin has announced that she will no longer be presenting her fall 2020 collection on March 1 during Paris Fashion Week. The announcement comes on Feb. 27 as France has reported its second death due to the virus.

The designer will instead bring her collection back to New York, presenting in mid-March by appointment.

Versace:

Versace has decided to postpone its coed cruise 2021 show slated for May 16 in the U.S.

The design house’s released a statement explaining it is “conscious of the need to prioritize the health and safety of its guests and employees and will inform all parties involved on new plans as soon as possible.”

Watch Labels:

Patek Philippe, Rolex and Hublot are temporarily suspending production to help contain the virus.

Fashion Week:

Australia Fashion Week:

Australia Fashion Week’s 25th anniversary edition has been canceled. The event was scheduled to run from May 11 to 15 at Sydney’s Carriageworks venue.

Milan Fashion Week:

Chinese fashion brands Angel Chen and Ricostru also canceled their fashion shows in Milan last week in the wake of the outbreak.

Ricostru designer, Rico Manchit Au, stated she canceled her show because half of her staff wouldn’t be able to get back to work due to China’s travel restrictions and city lockdowns.

The outbreak has also affected fashion week attendees, including editors from the Chinese editions of Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, InStyle, T Magazine, WSJ Magazine, Wallpaper* and Nylon, who partly or fully halted their fashion week plans.

Paris Fashion Week:

Chinese fashion brands Masha Ma, Shiatzy Chen, Uma Wang, Jarel Zhang, Calvin Luo and Maison Mai have all canceled their upcoming Paris Fashion Week events due to the virus.

The news was revealed by French fashion’s governing body, La Fédération de la Haute Couture, which stated it will “make available all its communications platforms to allow these brands to share the work they had planned to present both in France and overseas.”

Sao Paolo Fashion Week:

Sao Paolo Fashion Week has canceled its spring 2020 edition. The event was scheduled to run from April 24 to 28.

Shanghai and Beijing Fashion Weeks:

Both Shanghai and Beijing Fashion Weeks have also been postponed because of the outbreak. Shanghai Fashion Week was slated to begin on March 26 while Beijing’s China Fashion Week was slated to run from March 25 to March 31.

Shanghai Fashion Week is now partnering with Alibaba’s Tmall to create an online platform for the designers and brands to debut their fall 2020 collections from March 24 to March 30. Some 150 brands will participate in the virtual fashion week, including Diane von Furstenberg, Pinko, Miss Sixty, Converse, Anta, Icicle, Lily and Le Fame.

Tokyo Fashion Week:

It was revealed on March 2 that Tokyo Fashion Week has been canceled. The event would have run from March 16 to March 21. The announcement comes after brands including Hyke and Vivienne Tam already canceled their shows.

Valmont Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week:

The bridal trade show, scheduled to run from June 8 to 14, has been postponed.

The announcement comes after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez ordered the country on lockdown on March 14.

Trade Shows and Other Events:

The outbreak has also affected a number of international trade shows, including the following:

Baselworld:

Baselworld announced on Feb. 28 that it will be rescheduling its upcoming April show for January 2021 due to a decision by authorities to ban public gatherings in Switzerland. The watch fair will now be held from Jan. 28 to Feb. 2 of next year.

Copenhagen Fashion Summit:

The Copenhagen Fashion Summit scheduled for this May has been postponed due to the outbreak. The annual sustainability event is now postponed until October.

Cosmoprof North America:

Cosmoprof North America is postponing its Las Vegas trade show, now scheduled for Sept. 20 to 22. The trade show was originally scheduled to take place from June 28 to 30.

Cosmoprof Worldwide Bologna:

Organizers have further postponed its Bologna beauty trade show, now slated for Sept. 3 to 7. Organizers had announced on Feb. 24 that it would first be postponing its upcoming trade show from March 13 to March 16 to June 11 to June 15.

Esxence:

Milan’s artistic perfumery show Esxence also postponed the dates of its upcoming trade show. The show was originally slated to run from April 16 to April 19 and will now be held Feb. 11 to 14, 2021 at the MiCo-Milano Convention Centre venue.

Expo West:

Natural Products Expo West is postponing its annual trade show scheduled for March 3 to March 7 in Anaheim, Calif. Production and setup was already under way this week before the postponement announcement. A new date has not yet been revealed.

Fashion Trust Arabia Awards:

Fashion Trust Arabia has canceled its awards gala on March 5 in Qatar due to the virus. However, co-chairs Sheikha Al-Mayassa and Tania Fares are planning an “intimate showcase” in Paris to feature the 25 finalists whose designs will be reviewed by the judges. Dates for the awards and showcase will be revealed at a later time.

Global Retailing Ideas Summit:

The summit, which is staged by the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing at the University of Arizona, has been postponed due to the coronavirus from April 2 to 3 at the JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort. The new dates are Oct. 8 and 9.

Hyères Festival:

The Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography has been postponed until October. The event was slated for April 23 to 27.

JCK Show:

The jewelry trade show in Las Vegas has been postponed to an unspecified date. The show was scheduled to run from June 2 to 5.

Kingpins:

Denim trade show Kingpins has canceled its upcoming Hong Kong show scheduled for May 13 to May 14.

Luxe Pack Shanghai:

High-end packaging trade show, Luxe Pack Shanghai, also revealed it is postponing its upcoming trade show at the Shanghai Exhibition Center. The dates are changing from April 8 and 9 to July 7 and 8.

LVMH Cocktail for Designer Prize Semifinalists:

LVMH has canceled its cocktail event celebrating the 20 semifinalists for its Prize for Young Designers, which would have been held in Paris on Feb. 27. Although the luxury conglomerate did not specify on the reasoning behind the cancellation, it is likely linked to the virus’ outbreak.

Magic:

At the recent Magic trade show in Las Vegas in February, roughly 40 percent of exhibitors from the sourcing section were unable to make the show due to travel bans in Asia.

The Makeup Show Houston:

The Makeup Show has postponed its upcoming March event in Houston, now holding its trade show event on Aug. 1 and 2.

The makeup artist event also has an event scheduled for New York in May, but has not yet announced if the show will continue as planned.

Melbourne Fashion Festival:

The Virgin Melbourne Fashion Festival, which began on March 4, has canceled the remainder of its programming. The cancellation is in response to Australian government banning all non-essential public events attended by over 500 people.

Modelland:

Tyra Banks’ model-themed experience is no longer opening in May. A new opening date has not yet been announced.

Mido:

Eyewear trade show Mido revealed on Feb. 22 that it is postponing its upcoming trade show at Milan’s Rho Fiera fairgrounds. The trade show was initially slated to run from Feb. 29 to March 2 and will now be held between the end of May and early June.

Movado Swiss Watch Conference:

Movado has canceled its Swiss watch conference in Davos, which was planned for March 14 to March 18. This was meant to be Movado’s third annual stand-alone conference, which the company launched in 2018 as an alternative to Baselworld.

The National Magazine Awards:

The National Magazine Awards — also known as the Ellie Awards — have been postponed. The awards ceremony was scheduled for March 12 at the Brooklyn Steel music venue in Brooklyn. Organizers stated they will host the ceremony later this spring.

Prada’s “Rubber Pencil Devil” Exhibition in Shanghai:

Prada postponed the “Rubber Pencil Devil” exhibition by artist Alex Da Corte originally slated to run from March 10 to May 24 at the Prada Rong Zhai location in Shanghai. Supported by Fondazione Prada, the exhibition will now be held from Nov. 13 to Jan. 24, 2021.

Shoptalk Conference:

Shoptalk’s annual retail and e-commerce event in Las Vegas has been canceled. The conference was scheduled for later this month and has been rescheduled for mid-September.

Sì Sposaitalia:

The Italian bridal trade show scheduled for April 17 to 20 has been postponed. It will now be held on June 25 to 28.

Sustainable Future for Fashion

The British Department for International Trade is postponing its Sustainable Future for Fashion showcase event, which was slated for Feb. 28 in Paris. The event would have been hosted by Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Europe, Andrew Mitchell, at the British Ambassador’s Paris residence.

The showcase would have included brands such as Alighieri, Bav Tailor, Belize Bottletop, Edward Crutchley, Haeckels, Hanna Fiedler, Patrick McDowell, Phoebe English, Räthel & Wolf, Stay Wild, Story MFG and Teatum Jones.

Time:

Time will no longer be hosting a celebration for its 100 Women of the Year project held on International Women’s Day on March 8. The project recognizes some of the most influential women of each year from 1920 to 2019.

The event was supposed to include a screening of a short documentary and a panel of speakers including Katie Couric, Time editor in chief Nancy Gibbs and filmmaker Alma Har’el.

The magazine then announced on March 18 it is postponing its Time 100 List event, which was scheduled to run from April 21 to 22. It is now being postponed to September.

Triennale Milano Exhibit:

An art exhibit curated by Argentinian artist Guillermo Kuitca and sponsored by the Foundation Cartier at the Triennale Milano has been postponed. It was initially slated to open on April 9.

Vision Expo East:

Eyewear trade show, Vision Expo East, scheduled for March 26 to 29 in New York City has been canceled.

The trade show will instead be consolidated with its sister event, Vision Expo West, which is scheduled for Sept. 23 to 26 in Las Vegas.

Watches & Wonder

Geneva watch fair, Watches & Wonder, has announced it’s canceling its April show in the wake of the outbreak. The fair would have been held from April 25 to April 29 and would have included brands like Cartier, Vacheron Constantin, Ulysse Nardin, Girard Perregaux and Hermès.

A Dip in Sales:

Many fashion and beauty companies are facing financial repercussions due to the virus’ effect on production and consumption, with the following companies projecting decreases in sales:

Capri Holdings:

The company, which owns Michael Kors, Versace and Jimmy Choo, has closed 150 stores in China and projects its revenues in the next quarter will drop by $100 million.

Tapestry Inc.:

The conglomerate — which owns Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman — said it may lose $200 million to $250 million in sales in the second half of the year and earnings will take a hit of $97 million to $124 million.

Under Armour Inc.:

The sportswear company warned that its first-quarter revenues could take a hit of $50 million to $60 million.

Stock Prices Drop:

The stock market has been drastically effected by the COVID-19 outbreak, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average opening in the U.S. on Feb. 24 at a sharp decline decreasing 2.8 percent — or 813.11 points — to 28,179.30.

The decline continued throughout the week, with the stock market experiencing one of its worst weeks since the 2008 recession by Feb. 28, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average traded down 978.61, or 3.8 percent, to 24,788.03 in the first hour of trading. This left Blue Chip stocks off 14.5 percent for the week.

Losses are continuing as the outbreak continues its global spread. On March 12, the Down Jones Industrial Average dropped 1,464.94 points — or 5.9 percent — to 23,553.22, leaving the market down 20.3 percent since its all-time high on Feb. 12. Other global markets saw similar declines, including the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo (down 2.3 percent to 19,416.06), the FTSE 100 in London (down 1.4 percent to 5,876.52), the DAX in Frankfurt (down 6.0 percent to 9,815.35) and the CAC 40 in Paris (down 5.9 percent to 4,336.41).

Fashion companies continued facing large hits, with the following brands experiencing sharp decreases in stock prices:

Burberry Group:

The British fashion company dropped 5.5 percent to 13.67 pounds.

Gap Inc.:

The apparel company dropped 11.8 percent to $10.97.

J.C. Penney Co. Inc.:

The department store chain dropped 12.1 percent to 50 cents.

Kering:

The luxury fashion conglomerate dropped 5.9 percent to 412.65 euros.

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton:

The luxury group dropped 5.1 percent to 313.30 euros.

Moncler:

The apparel company dropped 5.0 percent to 27.89 euros.

Nordstrom Inc.:

The retailer dropped 11.4 percent to $24.03.

PVH Corp.:

The clothing conglomerate dropped 10.9 percent to $56.63.

Tailored Brands Inc.:

The fashion retail company dropped 22.6 percent to $2.33.

Tod’s:

The Italian fashion company dropped 6.2 percent to 23.40 euros.

Store Closures:

Coronavirus Impact on Fashion
Coronavirus Impact on Fashion

Retailers across the globe are shuttering their doors in an effort to contain the virus, including Neiman Marcus, Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Walmart, Nike, Apple, Urban Outfitters, Everlane, Lululemon, Abercrombie & Fitch, Glossier, Allbirds, Anthropologie, Sephora, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and more. Read more on store closures here.

Health Concerns:

High-Profile Figures Test Positive:

As the virus continues to spread, a number of high-profile individuals have tested positive for COVID-19. On March 11, Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson revealed on Instagram that they tested positive for COVID-19 while working in Australia. The couple was later released from the hospital on March 16, according to their son Chet Hanks, who posted a video update on his Instagram.

Actor Idris Elba revealed on Twitter on March 17 that he tested positive for COVID-19. He stated he isn’t experiencing symptoms, but got tested after he found out he came into contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.

A number of NBA players have also contracted the virus, starting with Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert on March 11. Three additional players have tested positive since, including Kevin Durant, Donovan Mitchell and Christian Wood, according to the NBA.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, has also tested positive for COVID-19, according to the prime minister’s press office on March 12.

Something Navy founder and influencer Arielle Charnas revealed in a March 18 Instagram post that she has tested positive for COVID-19. Charnas took to her Instagram a few days prior to inform her 1.3 million followers that she was feeling flu symptoms, posting a number of Instagram Stories that showed her getting tested for the virus at a drive-thru clinic.

France Closes Schools and Universities:

French President Emmanuel Macron announced on March 12 that schools and universities will be closed starting March 16 in an effort to contain the outbreak. He also urged businesses to let employees work remotely.

“We’re only at the beginning of this epidemic,” he said in a televised speech on March 12. “Everywhere in Europe, it’s accelerating, it’s intensifying.”

The president then ordered a shutdown on March 16, prohibiting residents from leaving their homes for the next 15 days. The country then announced on March 17 a 45 billion euro aid package for companies and workers impacted by the lockdown.

Condé Nast:

It was revealed on March 11 that a staffer at Condé Nast is displaying symptoms of COVID-19. As a result, the media company is asking its employees to work from home until the end of March.

Vox Media Closes Office:

Vox Media, the parent company of New York Magazine, revealed on March 9 that it would be closing its offices after a non-Vox employee tested positive for COVID-19. The office, located at 250 Vesey Street, will be closed until March 12 and will be cleaned.

Italy on Lockdown:

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte decreed Saturday that much of northern Italy will be on lockdown in order to contain the outbreak. The lockdown effects Lombardy and 14 provinces, including Veneto, Emilia Romagna and Piedmont, among others until April 3. The lockdown was later extended to effect the entire country.

Givaudan:

Givaudan has closed one of its research sites near Zurich on March 5 after a visitor at the site has tested positive for the virus. The Swiss fragrance and flavors supplier closed the facility — which employs roughly 400 people — as a precaution and is doing a deep cleaning of the site.

Unilever:

As COVID-19 spread to Italy, it was revealed that a 38-year-old man employed by Unilever has been diagnosed with the virus. The man works at a Unilever facility located in the municipality of Casalpusterlengo and works in the research and development department.

It’s been reported that roughly 60 of the man’s coworkers have been isolated by the company’s facility as a precaution and are waiting to get tested before being released.

Read more here:

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Shoppers Seen Buying More Online Amid Coronavirus Woes

How Coronavirus Is Impacting New York City

The Fashion Weeks and Major Events Disrupted by Coronavirus

WATCH: Giorgio Armani’s Fall 2020 Show

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