L’Coronavirus emergency it has not only changed our daily lives, undermining the balance of living together that defines us as “social beings”. With the data in hand, it also allows us to re-read the systems and methods to which we have been accustomed to date, including those of the fashion, which cannot pass unscathed in the new circumstances dictated by the Covid-19 pandemic. We have reconstructed the stages of the completely new situation that we are experiencing.
From China to the West
The first news, as well as the first source of concern, at the dawn of Milan Fashion Week, concerns the absence of Chinese buyers and journalists. We strive to find a way to get our solidarity to a country that has always appreciated Made in Italy. The response of the National Chamber of Fashion immediately arrives, the project China We Are With You which allows video connections and astreaming experience to inform Chinese public and professionals who are unable to come to Milan.
Everything has changed since February 21, in the middle of fashion week, when the first Italian case is discovered, patient 1. To give a first and clear signal is Giorgio Armani who shows the autumn winter 2020 2021 collection behind closed doors (Sunday 23 February) and signs for a large donation to Italian hospitals, where patients with Covid-19 are treated.
Fashion works to cope with the emergency, between charitable initiatives and donations: among the names stand out the couple Chiara Ferragni and Fedez, Benetton, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Kering group (to name a few, but the list fortunately continues to lengthen). Fashion companies do not stop and so respond to the urgent appeal of doctors and civil protection who ask for masks, gowns and disinfectant gels to protect themselves and limit infections. Miroglio, Calzedonia, Zara, Bulgari, L’Oreal and other textile or perfumery companies they convert their production. In a few hours, a long chain of reconversions was activated, which would have said impossible just a month before. We are however faced with a situation of such an emergency capable of put the fashion market at risk: as analyst Luca Solca of Alliance Bernstein said in a Business of Fashion podcast, “Lin the first half of 2020 it will probably be the worst in the history of the luxury market“. A consequence that is also the result of the measures adopted for contain the pandemic who see exits and movements of people limited to “cases of proven need”, As well as, of course, the closing of stores
E-commerce as a “save-shopping” formula?
As for online purchases as a “save business” formula, there are a few facts to consider: not all consumers are digitized and not all brands have already developed an e-commerce (especially the smaller and emerging ones) or have an online retailer. Experts predict one loss between 15% and 25% of sales: a variable in the hands of that delta between the increase in online sales (20%) and the closure of physical stores (- 65% in the spring summer and – 40% in the autumn winter).
Added to this is the thought, shared by many potential consumers, that we could summarize with this question: “Sand I stay at home, do I really need to go shopping?“Pr and fashion journalists responded by proposing how to formulas dedicated to smart working and fitness at home, at loungewear and allo sleepwear.
Data in hand, Net-à-Porter said in a recent WWD interview that it had recorded a 40% increase in online sales with a particular interest in i sweatpants. A real hunt for she put comfy: it is difficult to imagine yourself in elegant clothes, jeans and high-heeled shoes sitting on the sofa at home watching yet another film or a new TV series.
Equally important is the didactic aspect, therefore linked to the digital culture: in response to the MIUR’s invitation to support the smart school in the country, the Yoox Net-A-Porter group decided to donate hundreds of laptops, also starting a collaboration with the Golinelli Foundation of Bologna, to create a cycle of online lessons dedicated to secondary school students. The goal is to increase their digital and soft skills, thus expanding the creative, technological and communicative skills. A project that joins the number of e-learning initiatives of the fashion schools, Polimoda and GGE Italia group.
Let’s start with these decisions: parades postponed and skipped fashion calendars. Indeed, the Italian Chamber of Fashion has announced that the presentations scheduled for next June 19 to 23 will take place on the occasion of Milano Moda Donna in September 2020, while the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode has canceled the Haute Couture fashion shows scheduled in Paris since July 6 to 9. But this could only be the appetizer: the President of Cbi-Camera dei Buyer Italia, Francesco Tombolini, in the Corriere della Sera hypothesized the freezing of the summer season “The goods, which had just been exhibited in the shops that had to lower the shutters, may go on sale in 2021“. A real pit stop to make companies catch their breath and that makes you think about the close link between fashion and society.
The state of emergency, due to Coronavirus, leads to reformulate the times of the fashion system, expanding the proposal, as well as the request and consumption. We can therefore hypothesize a limitation of the releases of new items and collections on the market and a drastic reduction of capsule collections, as well as the choice to use unsold garments or uncut fabrics for a slow and more sustainable fashion, thus following the green philosophy also shared by Andreas Kronthaler.
“The virus will slow everything down. We will witness a setback in the production of consumer goods. It’s terrible and wonderful because we have to stop producing at this frantic pace“- Li Edelkoort told Business of Fashion, adding -“It is almost as if the virus were an extraordinary grace for the planet. It could be why we survive as a species“. Affirmations that we also find in the philosophy of Carl Honoré, in In Praise of Slowness – Slowing Down to Live Better (Bur).
A change of values and trends. The necessary luxury
The emergency condition we live inevitably leads us to reflect, and to ask ourselves the simple question: “What is useful and necessary?“. The Coronavirus marks a historical-social watershed that will surely have repercussions in life choices, even the smallest ones such as the wardrobe.
Indeed, fashion has a strong anthropological component: it is associated with the idea of change (which in recent years has been increasingly rapid and in step with digital) and develops according to economic, political, cultural and social changes. It is also an individual communication and recognition tool.
So what will fashion be like in post-Coronavirus? Experts – scientists, doctors and virologists – say that we will have to get used to using masks, which will perhaps become a new fashion accessory through which to express one’s identity, while concealing part of the face. But of course this is only one side aspect of the crisis. We must expect the return to normal after the long quarantine to have effects also on our choices. For example, are we sure we want to return to the pressing rhythms of the digital age, also in terms of consumption? The post-Coronavirus will most likely influence the timing of consumption, as pointed out by Francesco Tombolini, offering us the opportunity to select and evaluate, and maybe to invest in more sustainable products. The Covid-19 crisis can be transformed into opportunities, which also stimulates creative minds that are no longer subject to the frenzy and tight times of marketing.
A return to that “Luxury needed” that Giorgio Armani has well described in the preface of the book of the same name by Cecilia Gandini and Marco Turinetto: “the market rewards the excellence of the product, even in the small, even in everyday life, restoring value to things, but above all, to ideas“.