By Josie Gudgeon
Covid- 19, the disease caused by the Novel Coronavirus, has fashion companies struggling, as the virus continues to spread, so too has its impact on the industry. The world has been on edge since news of the virus’ outbreak began. Since late January coronavirus is spreading rapidly, with cases popping up in countries all over the world, including the U.S., the U.K., Italy, Japan, Egypt and Iran. We are now seeing an adverse effect as a result, with a major impact on the global economy, affecting the fashion and design industries.
How have they been affected:
Cancellation of events:
We’re seeing an immediate impact of the fashion industry as annual events are cancelled in Europe and Asia.
On Monday 24th February, Milan Fashion Week held its show in a vacant theatre, and at the end, Mr Giorgio Armani himself took a bow in front of rows of empty seats. It had become evident the night before the show the coronavirus had hit Italy hard, with hundreds of new cases confirmed. Consequently, the fashion house proceeded to the show without an audience, providing a Livestream as a safer alternative. The models paraded around the vast room dressed in vibrant festive gowns, even though the mood was anything but celebratory.
Slowing down of Manufacturing:
China manufactures more than a third of all clothing and textiles globally, although its market share in garment manufacturing has declined slightly over the past few years. It is still a major manufacturing hub for many industries, including fashion. Fashion brands across the spectrum choose to manufacture their products in China, from luxury labels like Prada and Armani to fast-fashion brands like H&M and Zara.
Subsequently, due to China’s outbreak of Coronavirus, this means that all fashion brands that source from China are going to see major delays in getting their inventory over the next few months. Many seeing delays of anywhere between 25-45 days. This is as a result of, many factory workers going home for the Chinese New Year holiday, which occurred right as the outbreak was spreading. After this, many have been having a lot of trouble getting back to their factories because their cities are under lockdown and public transportation has ground to a halt. The government has also put the factories themselves through extensive inspections, and workers are being subjected to tests.
Now the leading problem is that factories around China are still closed, and it’s unclear when they will be up and running again. But since we don’t know exactly how bad the crisis is going to get, there’s the possibility that the factories will need to take even longer to turn orders around. The fashion supply chain is very complicated, and many parts have been affected by this process. Summer collections will be slightly delayed, but when it comes to fall, it’s less clear what will happen
Many garment and accessories factories across the country, are being affected, not just those neighbouring Hubei ( the epicentre of the Coronavirus outbreak in China). Factory Companies doing their cutting and sewing elsewhere often depend on China for fabrics and trims, for making the garments; with buttons coming from one factory in one part of the country and zippers coming from another. If all or several parts of these process are delayed, everything slows down. For example, many companies might have shifted more sewing from China to countries such as Vietnam and Pakistan these locations, however, are often still reliant on China for their materials. And with so many parts of the supply chain disrupted, it’s hard to tell how long it will take for things to get up and running again. These delays are problematic for brands that work with retailers because they’re under a contract to deliver inventories by a particular date.
Closing down of Nike Head Quarters:
The sportswear giants Nike’s announced that they have temporarily closed their European headquarters in the Netherlands after an employee was infected with the coronavirus. It is estimated that 2,000 Nike employees from 80 countries work at the site. It is reported that the office will have been “in lockdown” on Monday and Tuesday of this week for disinfecting; with the infected employee staying at home in isolation for 14 days.
However, this is not the only way Nike is struggling as a result of the Coronavirus. Nike announced a week ago that it has temporarily closed about half of Nike-owned stores in China due to the coronavirus outbreak. Furthermore, the company said it is operating with reduced hours and experiencing lower than planned retail traffic in stores that do remain open.
Hong Kong retail sales have fallen by 21.4% due to the Coronavirus. After months of violent anti-government protests, the virus is worsening a previously weakened retailing environment. As this is discouraging tourist from visiting the city and keeping citizens away from shops.
As the coronavirus continues to spread, so too has its impact on the industry, influencing the manufacturing process, the product sales and the fashion marketing. All of these constitute to a successful industry.