Most of the main European trade shows and fashion weeks have felt the effects. Last week, the aisles of Milanese footwear trade show Micam were unusually quiet, as Chinese exhibitors and visitors could not travel and some European buyers opted to stay away. This has been a theme across many of the shows.
Days after Drapers flew back from Micam, there was an outbreak in northern Italy. Giorgio Armani took the precaution of cancelling his catwalk show in Milan during fashion week last Sunday, and instead streamed footage of it online. Max Mara advised staff returning to the US from Milan Fashion Week to work from home for 14 days, and Moncler closed its headquarters in the city for a week, as concern grew about the speed at which coronavirus can spread.
The knock-on effect was felt at Paris Fashion Week, which kicked off on Monday. There was a nervousness in the air as the fashion crowd descended on the French capital, and presentations from Chinese designers including Shiatzy Chen, Masha Ma, Calvin Luo, and Jarel Cha were cancelled. Travellers have been urged to follow guidelines issued by the World Health Organization, which includes regular hand washing.
Trade show organisers and luxury fashion houses are not the only ones counting the cost of Covid-19. On Monday, Lululemon was the latest brand to reveal the closure of its stores in China. Also this week, Primark warned that, if delays to production in China continue, there is a risk some lines will be in short supply later in the year.
It said it has “several months” before stock levels are affected, but it is looking at shifting some of its production to suppliers in other regions, such as south-east Asia or Turkey.
Other retailers will inevitably follow suit, and the short-term impact on China’s garment manufacturing industry could be catastrophic.
However, the industry is resilient and it will recover. The important thing for now is to keep people safe by any means necessary.
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