Crisis Management

Fashion’s Response To The COVID-19 Pandemic

Amidst a global turmoil brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, take a look at how the fashion industry is responding.

Fashion’s Response To The COVID-19 Pandemic

(Anchor image: Visuals on Unsplash)

By now, the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe has brought about several ramifications that include border lockdowns, city-wide quarantines and a host of planned events either being cancelled or indefinitely postponed.

Fashion has largely followed global shifts to help contain the spread of the coronavirus, be it in the form of store shutdowns, donation drives and putting largescale gatherings on hold. To help you keep tabs on how fashion is reacting, here’s a list of the most notable responses that have come from the fashion world. We will be updating it with the latest news impacting the fashion industry.

01 | Cancellations of shows and events

As several world leaders continue to drum the message of social distancing and deferring non-essential travel plans, the fashion industry has followed suit.

Many of the Cruise 2020 runway shows — including Prada‘s Tokyo show, Max Mara‘s St. Petersburg show, Hermes‘ London show and Chanel‘s Capri show — have all been either postponed or cancelled.

Max Mara FW20 (Image: Max Mara)

On top of the Cruise 2020 shows affected, Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode has also announced that Paris Men’s Fashion Week (June 23 to 28) and the Fall/Winter 2020 Haute Couture Week (July 5 to 9) shows will be cancelled. Milan’s Men’s Fashion Week, which is to take place the week before Paris’ shows, will be postponed to September and merged with the womenswear shows.

The British Fashion Council has also called off the London Men’s Fashion Week shows in June, and has said that they are “looking at new ways to digitalise their fashion showcase platforms”.

(Image: Bottega Veneta)

Several regional fashion weeks, such as Tokyo, Shanghai and Seoul, have also been put off indefinitely until circumstances permit their resumption. While there is no word on the fate of the major fashion weeks that happen in Milan and Paris come September, they are most likely to be held digitally or postponed, should the situation persist.

It’s not just fashion events that have been hit. Major watch fairs Baselworld and SIHH have been cancelled. The annual Met Gala has also been postponed indefinitely as well, in line with the closure of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

02 | Facilities are shutting down

In the fear-gripped streets of Italy — which has the highest number of COVID-19 cases outside of China — both Gucci and Giorgio Armani have also closed doors to their plants and offices temporarily. Gucci’s closures will last to March 20th, while there is no word on when Armani offices and factories will resume operations.

Across the border in Switzerland, Rolex will be shutting down production offices in Geneva, Bienne, and Crissier for 10 days, beginning March 17. Swiss watchmaker Franck Muller is also shutting down its Watchland premises until further notice.

Global luxury e-commerce website NET-A-PORTER announced that their distribution sites in the UK, Americas and Europe have been temporarily closed. In London, delivery vans have been asked to support Age UK charities by delivering essential care packages containing food and medical supplies to the elderly.

03 | Store closures

To help mitigate large gatherings of people, several brands are reporting temporary store closures, or shortened working hours. For several of these affected brands, they are reassuring staff that they will still be paid in full, despite the drastic reduction of working hours.

Brands and department stores that are closing their doors across large parts of Europe and North America include Bergdorf Goodman, Nike, Calvin Klein and Lululemon. Meanwhile, other labels like kate spade new york and Gap have reduced trading hours in several stores.

04 | Charitable donations

Not all is gloom and doom, as several of fashion’s biggest names move to help authorities in procuring much-needed resources.

In Italy, Prada‘s Miuccia Prada, Patrizio Bertelli, and Carlo Mazzi have collectively and personally donated two complete intensive care and resuscitation units to three Milanese hospitals.

Italian influencer Chiara Ferragni has also used her platform to remind her followers to take necessary precautions and has set up a GoFundMe page to fund more hospital beds across Italy. The fundraiser has drawn over €3 million of donations. Moncler is donating €10 million to the construction of a hospital in the heavily-affected region of Lombardy.

Announced in February, Dolce & Gabbana‘s CEO Alfonso Dolce is funding a study at the Humanitas University. Through this, the research team aims to lay groundwork for other researchers who are looking to develop diagnostic and therapeutic solutions against the virus. Bulgari has also donated an undisclosed amount to the research team at Istituto Lazzaro Spallanzani, whose scientists were the first to isolate the DNA of the virus.

In April, Bottega Veneta has also announced that they will be supporting the Italian scientific community with €300,000 fundings for two-year scholarships across Veneto, Lazio and Campania that will aid research efforts made by the country’s medical community. In a press statement, Bottega Veneta’s creative director Daniel Lee says that the brand recognises “that supporting the medical professionals who are saving the lives of others must be our priority during this time…with these scholarships we are able to contribute to securing the future of our global health by supporting their admirable and courageous work.”

Meanwhile, Burberry is funding a research study conducted by the University of Oxford to develop a single-dose vaccine. The University has one of the world’s best track records in emergency vaccine development, with past success in fighting Ebola and MERS-Cov.

(Image: Vogue)

In the U.S., Vogue and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) have announced that in place of the annual Vogue Fashion Fund – which was set up to aid emerging designers in America – they will be launching a new initiative called A Common Thread. Through the use of storytelling, the aim is to channel financial aid to the hardest-hit workers within the American fashion industry. Assistance will be given to selected applicants from all levels of the sector, and will not be limited to Fashion Fund participants or CFDA members only.

On top of making a €2 million donation, Gucci is also using their sizeable social media following to rally donations from fans. The total donated amount will be matched by Facebook as part of its matching initiative. To contribute, use this link.

Donations are also coming in from luxury groups and designers alike. Giorgio Armani (€1.25 million), Ralph Lauren (US$10 million), Donatella Versace (€200,000), the Della Velle family who owns Tod’s and Roger Viver (€5 million), and the Richemont Group (RMB 10 million) make up a growing list of businesses who are pledging money to the cause.

05 | Medical supply donations

LVMH recently announced that they would be suspending the production of perfumes in their factories to focus on producing hand sanitisers. As much as 12 tonnes of hand sanitizer would be produced in a week, which will then be distributed to French hospitals and health authorities. This comes on the tail of reports of panicked shoppers wiping out essential resources such as face masks and sanitising rubs. On Instagram, Dior has also announced that their ateliers have voluntarily began production of face masks. Chanel is also dedicating 150 sewing specialists to churning out medical masks.

LVMH has also ordered 40 million face masks to be donated to French healthcare workers. Meanwhile, fragrance producer Coty has begun producing hydro-alcoholic hand sanitisers for medical and emergency services staff who are facing shortages. First batches have begun production in the US as well as Monaco, with more production lines opened over the next few weeks.

In keeping with their commitment to supporting Italian authorities, Bulgari is working with its fragrance manufacturer ICR to produce several hundreds of thousands of hand sanitisers. These bottles would then be distributed to all medical facilities within the Italian Civil Protection Department.

(Image: Bulgari)

Christian Siriano has also put his production lines to producing medical masks for American healthcare institutions.

On top of making a donation to healthcare institutions, Ermenegildo Zegna will also be converting part of its production facilities in Switzerland and Italy to the manufacturing of medical masks. This move is mirrored by Burberry in the UK, which has also retooled their Yorkshire production facility to produce both surgical and non-surgical masks and gowns for patients and healthcare workers.

On top of making reusable and washable face masks from leftover fabrics, Sandro will also be delivering breakfast sets to hospital staff in the worst-hit parts of France.

Kering, which owns the likes of Gucci and Saint Laurent, will be donating 3 million surgical masks to French healthcare workers. The workshops of Saint Laurent and Balenciaga will also be producing masks. Gucci itself will be donating 1.1 million face masks and 55,000 medical overalls in the coming weeks.

Prada has also pledged to produce 80,000 medical overalls and 110,000 masks, following a request from the Tuscany Region. The production is expected to be completed by April 6.

Eyewear production giant Safilo has taken up the task of repurposing their manufacturing lines to make safety glasses and facial shields for Italy’s healthcare workers. Similarly, Polaroid is supplying 5,000 protection masks to Spanish frontline workers in the coming weeks.

06 | Happy distractions

Staying at home in isolation can be about as fun as watching paint dry, which is why Bottega Veneta is launching the Bottega Veneta Residency. Accessible across social media platforms including Instagram, Weibo, Line, and Spotify, as well as unique mini-site on bottegaveneta.com, the project will see artists and creatives come together to create a fun online community aimed at beating loneliness. Whether it’s recipes from rising-star chefs or a movie night with a film collaborator, the idea is to rally people from all ends of the world in a bond that transcends borders.

Alexander McQueen is utilising art as a way of spreading some positivity. Titled McQueen Creators, participants are encouraged to flex their creative muscle by sketching McQueen dresses, before sending it in. More information can be found here.

Spanish luxury house Loewe has also began a Loewe En Casa program, which consists of “a series of online events and workshops taking place through Instagram LIVE to enjoy while you #StayAtHome”. Meanwhile, Chanel has launched “The Sound Of Chanel” on Apple Music, where listeners can enjoy a selection of curated music tracks and beauty narratives.

This post first appeared on March 18, and was last updated on April 27.

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