Like the phoenix rising from ashes, the fashion industry is slowly rising from the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Showing tremendous resilience, the industry put aside all its profitability goals and dedicated itself to relief, research and emergency efforts.
As Italy turned into an epicentre of the pandemic, fashion brands rolled up their sleeves to help affected population. The Armani Group donated €1.25 million to Italian hospitals, while Prada Group donated six intensive care and resuscitation units to three Milan-based hospitals. Donatella and Allegra Versace each pledged €100,000 to Milan's San Raffaele hospital. Moncler, Kering, Tod’s, Bvglari and Dolce & Gabbana also contributed to research efforts focused on finding cure.
Initiatives to contain virus impact on fashion
As the virus spread across Europe, some of the biggest fashion's brands stepped up to contain business losses. LVMH diverted its perfume production to the making of hand sanitizers while Prada started manufacturing medical gowns and masks, as did the Zegna Group.
Similarly, British brand Burberry retooled its Yorkshire factory to make masks and gowns besides funding vaccine research and making donations to contain food poverty. The Yoox Net-a-Porter group donated its Premiere Delivery Service to Age UK outposts, for making essential deliveries to elderly and vulnerable. Not to be left behind, American brands Ralph Lauren and PVH Corp committed millions of dollars to support employees, healthcare workers and smaller American fashion businesses impacted by the pandemic.
Pandemic hits luxury industry hardest
Though admirable, these actions are not enough to fill the gaps that coronavirus has caused in global socioeconomic structure. As the joint report published by Business of Fashion and McKinsey & Company reveals, the global fashion industry - worth $2.5 trillion before the pandemic - is expected to shrink by 30 per cent in revenues in 2020.
Moreover, personal luxury goods sector will be hit harder with revenues shrinking by upto 39 per cent. This is evident from the anticipated 20 per cent sales dip by LVMH in the first quarter and 14 per cent sales drop projected by Kering during the period.
Burberry also predicted China sales to fall almost 30 per cent while Capri Holdings lost 58 per cent of market value in the first week of April. The shares of Tapestry, which owns Kate Spade and Coach also dipped 45 per cent and Ralph Lauren's by 37 per cent during the period. Fashion shows scheduled during the course of the year have either been cancelled or postpones.
Inspiring a different kind of creativity
Though these changes have made it difficult for brands to make any long-term plans, it has given them sufficient time to reconfigure their business strategies and create an innovative and engaging fashion world. As Jean Touitou, Founder, APC points out, this will inspire a different kind of creativity within the industry. Just like the end of World War II birthed a new kind of beauty and 2008 recession stripped away frivolity for philo-driven practicality and empowerment, COVID-19 will curtail overproduction and help the industry become more sustainable.