Covid-19 has left a trail of destruction across the entire events industry in recent weeks with the latest hit taking place in the fashion world.
It was announced on Friday, March 27th, that all men’s spring/summer 2021 fashion weeks in London, Milan, and Paris, which were originally scheduled to go ahead this June (2020), have been put on ice.
This comes amidst the rescheduling of other huge international appointments in the sporting fields such as the NBA season and the Tokyo Olympics.
The Board of Directors of the Fédération de la haute couture et de la Mode announced that Paris men’s fashion week, previously set to take place from June 23 to June 28, and Haute Couture Week, scheduled from July 5 to July 9, will now not go ahead as planned. “The Federation is actively working with its members on possible alternatives,” the group said in a press statement. The Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana announced simultaneously that men’s fashion week in Milan, scheduled from June 19 to June 23, will be postponed with a view to it taking place at the same time as Womenswear week which all being well will go ahead in September 2020. The Italian organization commented, “We are aware that great efforts will be made in order to have the new collections ready by June to start an innovative selling campaign.” and added, “The 800 Milan showrooms will have an active part in this new storytelling.”
Historically the nuclei of the fashion industry, fashion weeks have been key in making or breaking the world’s biggest brands as up-and-comers earn a place to showcase their work, network with the buyers, and hope to strike deals. Industry big-hitters such as editors and journalists have traditionally flocked from all corners of the globe to cover the events and decree the ‘next big thing’ in fashion. This has always been a power week in the fashion capitals, generating much buzz and much revenue in the city, but the deconstruction of this process caused by the virus is already having a critical impact on how these events will run and are consumed. After many shows from Women’s Fashion Week’s earlier in the year were streamed online to empty bench rows, or canceled altogether – many brands have been left scratching their heads as to what to do next.
Tastemakers predict the industry will have to get more creative – and quick. It’s likely we will see online shows become bigger, better and more sophisticated, which is not entirely new territory for most of the big brands, but this will certainly need a re-think since this is now how they will reach their entire audience. The primary concern is how to find a way to showcase to buyers and encourage orders in these strangest of times.
However, showcasing the collections may be the least of the brands’ worries at this time as the effects of Covid-19 worms its way into the rivers and streams of the fashion industry as a whole, including production and distribution. Emily Bode, who presents her collection ‘Bode’ at Paris Fashion Week commented, “we assumed [the shows] would be canceled or postponed” for a litany of reasons. The first: that, because of its global scale, the coronavirus pandemic has made it near-impossible to even produce new clothing. We can’t begin fall production until our factories reopen…and because we can’t start fall production, development of spring is even further behind,” she mused.
It’s inevitable that New York will also follow suit with the cancellation of their men’s fashion week in the coming days, which coagulates this rather hazy phase across the entire industry. Luckily, it is driven by some of the most tenacious and talented creatives in the world, many of whom rely on this for their livelihoods, which means a new wave of innovation is surely on its way.