How COVID-19 is Impacting the Global Fashion Industry

How COVID-19 is Impacting the Global Fashion Industry



With the worldwide spread of COVID-19, also referred to as the novel coronavirus, the international fashion industry has been heavily impacted. The disease’s negative impact is being felt by many companies and functions, especially as the troubling effects have escalated as brands were ramping up for the fall 2020 fashion month season. Runway shows and major events have been canceled or postponed, while department stores have shuttered their doors as well. 

Many major retailers and brands have temporarily closed down their operations. This list includes Saks Fifth Avenue, Urban Outfitters, Macy’s, H&M, Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Sephora, Nike, Apple, Nordstrom, Everlane, Lululemon, Glossier, Reformation, and Anthropologie. Some shopping malls have made the choice to shut down entirely, including California’s Rodeo Drive and South Coast Plaza. Additionally, a small number of retail companies have made the decision to temporarily halt their cybercommerce platforms, with one of the major businesses being Victoria’s Secret.

Larger, well-known corporations, while they are expected to suffer from the financial repercussions resulting from the disruption of their business transactions due to the disease, are likely to be able to rebound fiscally. Given their high margins and customer loyalty, these fashion houses are much better equipped to face the consequences of coronavirus than smaller brands, many of which do not have the same level of resources to make such an outcome likely.

The local, national, and global responses to this health crisis have caused highly consequential effects on consumer industries, with one of the most notable effects being the sharp declines in the fashion industry stock market. Nordstrom Inc. was one of the hardest hit by this rapid decline, going down 17 percent to $17.93.

Even as these financial burdens are increasing, many fashion designers, companies, and figures are rallying together to raise funds to combat the spread of coronavirus, donating resources and money. This list of benefactors includes the luxury conglomerate Loui Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, commonly known as LVMH, which is manufacturing and donating hand sanitizer from its perfume and cosmetic factories to French health officials.

The arrival of the pandemic in Italy in late February directly coincided with the 2020 Milan Fashion Week, forcing designers to either cancel, postpone, or adjust the format of their fashion presentations. Among these luxury designers is Giorgio Armani, who barred a public audience from viewing his fall 2020 runway collection, and instead broadcasted a runway show virtually to viewers. New York Bridal Week is also planning to go virtual through platforms such as Zoom and, while other fashion weeks such as New York’s Men’s Week, Paris Men’s Week, Paris Couture Week, and New York Resort Week have been canceled. Other notable design houses’ runway shows, including Ralph Lauren’s fall 2020 show, Burberry’s fall 2020 show, and Chanel’s Métiers d’Art show have been further postponed.

Many prominent events have been canceled as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continued to push out stricter regulations regarding social distancing and larger group gatherings. The scope of withdrawn events spans across many different sectors, such as the fashion, film, music, and sports industries. Included among the high-profile, canceled functions are the 2020 Summer Olympics, the Met Gala, the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, Beautycon, the Boston Marathon, and the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

As the disease continues to spread all across the globe, its impacts have as well, although the true brunt of the economic impact is still building. From mass-producing retailers to exclusive luxury brands, different establishments have been impacted in different ways, but nevertheless, one thing is clear: Nothing is going to be the same in the fashion world when it reemerges.