It’s the topic on everybody’s lips, one you’re bound to already be bored of discussing, even though it has all hardly begun. That C-word, Coronavirus. As millions worldwide slowly and gradually face an unknown future in quarantine, in the UK we’ve now reached a point where we’re encouraged to no longer gather in social spaces, or even go to a pub to grab a refreshing drink. ‘Social distancing’ is the new fashionable buzzword, but what of the industry which relies on trends, and quite frankly – people leaving the house? Fashion is undoubtedly set to have long term effects from this sudden societal change, but how?
Things really began to hit their peak in the middle of the AW20 fashion shows, with big-name-brands like Armani cancelling their shows due to the crisis, and summer cruise shows by the likes of Prada, Gucci and Versace also no longer happening. The next main fashion month is set to occur in September for SS21, but at this point who really knows what will happen? Brands will have to consider other ways to showcase their collections to set the trends which will then trickle down to the high street.
With China being the first affected, it seems like the light may be at the end of the tunnel for them, with Wuhan celebrating the closure of their final coronavirus hospital, due to the lack of new cases. While this is a cause for celebrations, there will still be knock-on global effects from the last six weeks. From millions lost in sales from a normally profitable area, due to people being on lockdown, to the production side. The epidemic hit in the midst of Chinese New Year, where many factories were already shut down, and they continued to remain closed for some time after, halting the production of clothes for a number of global retailers, which is bound to affect stock over the coming months.
When it comes to collections currently in store, in an already troubled and uncertain time for the industry after Brexit, retailers are having to push to sell products even more, with many already heavily discounting new season products to encourage anyone to purchase anything in a time where many consumers are really going to have to pinch their pennies, especially when they may not even be able to guarantee where their next pay check is coming from.
Over the past week we have seen a huge rise in cases in the UK, as well as how we as a nation are reacting to this constantly rising situation. As it’s become more serious, retailers not just in the country but the whole of the western world are having to respond to changing times, ones which are rather unchartered territories. With online sales in the UK currently not being hugely affected, the pressure is on eCommerce to take control, whilst as a stark contrast, the high street are having to work with less hours, and government encouragement for people to stay away. Brands are using social media and e-mail comms more than ever to be a supportive voice to their consumers, instead of blatantly pushing their own products they’re reassuring the customer of the uncertainty ahead, and attempting to instill trust. One thing we can’t predict as of yet is how consumer behaviour will change over the coming weeks and months. Whilst it is almost certain that retailers will take a hit, will there be a surge in home products and loungewear? Trade will have to be reactive to the situation, and attempt to sell whatever they can based on mood, albeit at a loss.
This is a scary time for many, so I want to end on a good news story. Fashion house LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton, Guerlain and Fenty Cosmetics have announced that instead of manufacturing beauty goods, they will instead produce hand sanitiser to be distributed around France for free. This goodwill is of course fantastic promotion, but it shows that in a time of greed, (we’ve all seen the people with 20 packs of toilet roll in their trollies), there is kindness.
It can be easy to get bogged down with the uncertainty of the future, but instead treat this for a time of self-love and care. Read that book you’ve not had time to look at! Learn a new skill! Or even search for a new job if the time is right. In my next entry I’ll discuss how to navigate finding a new career in these unparalleled times, but for now; stay safe and stay healthy.