The respiratory disease coronavirus, also known as Covid-19, broke out last December in Wuhan, China. Since then it has spread to other countries around the world. Europe recently saw a spike. Italy now has the highest number of infections outside of Asia, CNN reported. The country’s northern region experienced an uptick in cases.
SUSTAINABLE FASHION: REACTIONS TO CORONAVIRUS
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, Harrods, Selfridges and Saks Fifth Avenue, Dubai Mall have closed their doors.
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, Something Navy founder and influencer Arielle Charnas and Prince Charles.
Whatever the way, with the very much needed social distancing, shopping is going to get to new lows. The economic impact will only be known once all this passes, but forecasts are scary to say the least. There will be not only huge losses in the sector, but also a lot of jobs being made redundant. That will bring consumption down and we will be in a deeper economic crisis.
The coronavirus outbreak is likely to be a nightmare for Italy’s $100 billion-plus fashion industry, says Carlo Capasa, the head of the National Chamber of Italian Fashion.
What’s happening to Italy’s fashion industry is likely a preview of the coronavirus’ impact on the global economy more broadly. Companies in a wide range of industries are dependent on China as both a manufacturing behemoth and billion-plus-consumer market. But as life in some parts of the country comes to a near-standstill in the face of the outbreak, that reliance looks more and more like a weakness.
That dependency is now proving disastrous. As workers in China are being kept home amid fears of spreading the coronavirus, it’s causing delays in the manufacturing supply chain. Those delays are particularly problematic in the fashion business because clothes are sold in seasons, experts say. Companies that receive raw materials like textiles late may need to mark down products or charge manufacturers for delays.The supply chain issues affecting fashion companies are also affecting other industries that are reliant on Chinese manufacturing, like the automotive and technology businesses.
“The Chinese have been the single biggest driver in luxury and fashion in the last 10 years,” says Brown. “They comprise about one-third of all purchases of luxury, but they are more than 70% of the annual growth in luxury consumption. So there has been a disproportionate reliance for quite a few years in that consumer.”
A NOTE OF HOPE
Having runway shows cancelled, shops and factories closed and everyone talking about the economic crisis after the pandemic might not help, but it can give us the push to think outside the box, get creative and find better solutions for our industry. A change was needed and long due but having the investors interest at heart was not helping to change the deeply rooted systems fashion works on. Maybe now, we get to have factories in proximity, maybe now we get to produce only what is required. Maybe now we get to appreciate what is important.
Coronavirus might be a great opportunity. Not only to get closer to our family members, our neighbours, our colleagues… but also to people we don’t know like those garment workers in Asia, the refugee families tired of being rejected, to the Earth we tend to forget because we are so busy running around.
This is giving us the time to slow down, reflect and connect back again to what we really are. And it is showing us in all our weakness and strength, in all our fear and empathy, that we are connected, intertwined as the threads in a loom.
Let’s hope we put that re discovered connection to good use and make the World a better place for once.
Be Safe, and Stay at Home!