Attending Milan Fashion Week this year might have been a bit unusual, maybe odd or better say overwhelming, and surely, reading your favourite fashion news magazine, haven’t reassured you.
This-year-fashion-month-discussion revolved around something different to the ordinary trends previsions. Face masks and hand sanitiser were the jarring symbol that found way to overshadow the showcased collections, as brands struggle to maintain a positive yet safe environment while facing a public health crisis.
COVID-19, the deadly respiratory illness and main character of the show, has spread fear and uncertainty among the people, causing a great lost for the fashion industry. As if it wasn’t enough the effects on manufacturing and consumer spending caused by the extended shutdown in China!
Cities across the northern Italy, were the first to face consequences of this virus that has soon outreached like wildfire in France and Europe in general.
Public events have been cancelled, social environments shut down, Lockdown’s have been called for restaurant and coffee and people saw themselves forced to holed up inside their houses.
Nevertheless, the show must go on!
(A part for Giorgio Armani followed by Laura Biagiotti, who uninvited show-goers to his runway presentation).
And Paris Fashion Week took place despite several events are been called off.
What are the real consequences that the Fashion Industry is going to face ahead? How is this virus going to change the system?
Should we call for a “gap year”, as forecasted by some analysts? Is it even an epidemic? Or are we just irrationally taking lots of precautions?
On the many questions swirling round in our heads, one thing is for sure: Gucci and Moncler have been taking actions, preventing their workplace and introducing flexible working arrangement, smart working systems and limited non-essential travel.
The doubts of some, on the efficiency of these measures are completely understandable, after all you may restrain work contamination but how much can you be sure that transmissions are not taking place elsewhere?
People feel divided, many also think that such measures are getting a bit over the top!
All melts down in a chaotic outcome and where even the government guidelines look a bit contradicting, things tend to break down. And individual are let deciding to do whatever.
The same can’t be said for the Fashion world. The industry is built on vital human interaction. The conversations that happen during fashion month, the negotiation and networking, are essential. Without them, we could lose our sense of community, not to mention our ability to innovate and move forward.
Moreover, smart working cannot be applied to the majority of fashion jobs. The BoF reminds us: “pattern cutters and design teams, for example, need to be in the studio interacting with fabrics that will be turned into garments. Photographers can’t shoot models over a videoconference, and makeup artists and hairstylists must be on hand to prep for shoots”.
Despite the measures provided to hand over masks and hand sanitaries, most of the show-goers, makeup artist and hairstylist haven’t been wearing them. However, the pace with which the pandemic is propagating is scary and we have to admit how important it is to reconsider fashion month altogether.
2020 Fashion month will be forever remembered for the COVID-19 and perhaps it will be considered the bookmark of Fashion Industry working mode.
Even though Coronavirus has made is way to shut down Italy’s fashion capital on Saturday 7th March, we should take this as a change to question the sustainability of fashion week.