The Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19 has become quite a topic of discussion and a source of panic for many. As the virus spreads and the number of confirmed cases piles up many are beginning to worry about the impact this will have on their personal life and the world in general. We’ve already seen people in Europe going crazy and stock-piling on certain products, leaving the supermarket shelves empty. We know that this limits travel and lots of people are choosing to change their plans and stay home. We could have predicted that this will massively impact tourism. It’s already causing certain big events, gatherings, concerts, conferences and festivals to be cancelled or postponed because big gatherings aren’t a good idea and it can cause the virus to spread even faster.
But what most of us didn’t think of was how this will impact the fashion industry. At first glance, it seems like the novel coronavirus has nothing to do with the fashion industry until you remember that hey, Fashion Week is a big gathering of people. While the Milan Fashion Week wasn’t cancelled, Armani’s show happened in an empty theater. Is this the first bell? Is this how other fashion weeks will go on this year? Or will it all be cancelled?
But fashion week isn’t the biggest problem in the fashion industry. Most materials used in fashion are produced in China. And since China is the country with the biggest outbreak of the virus and it’s essentially on lockdown and many factories and companies have stopped working or gone on quarantine — that will definitely impact the world of fashion. While we’re here worrying about wearing a mask on the street and cancelling vacations, Chinese businesses, offices and factories are temporarily closing down in order to stop the spread of the virus.
Luxury fashion is already suffering because fashion shows might get cancelled, but also, as people are cancelling their trips and focusing on their health, they’re much less likely to buy luxury designer clothes. And Chinese tourists actually make up a third of the buyers when it comes to luxury goods.
On top of that, certain materials used in the production of designer clothing is made in China and since Chinese factories are closing down during the virus outbreak this might cause a significant delay in the delivery of those goods to the fashion houses and therefore the design will not be made in time. And fashion is a seasonal business.
You might be reading this thinking “well I don’t really buy luxury designer clothes, how does this apply to me?”. Well, it’s not exactly a secret that most of the fast fashion and high-street stores where we shop get their clothes made in China because it’s cost-effective. The price of labour in China is low and that has made them the biggest conglomerate in the world of fashion. If the company doesn’t necessarily sow their clothes in China, they probably get the fabrics from here, and if it’s not the fabric then perhaps they buy zippers or buttons from China. One way or another almost all sections of the fashion industry rely heavily on China and this coronavirus is going to have a huge impact on it.