COVID-19

How the pandemic is changing high fashion

Erika Beras May 27, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
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Gucci's Spring/Summer 2020 runway show in Milan in 2019. The brand announced it is officially abandoning the traditional fashion seasons. John Phillips/Getty Images for Gucci
COVID-19

How the pandemic is changing high fashion

Erika Beras May 27, 2020
Gucci's Spring/Summer 2020 runway show in Milan in 2019. The brand announced it is officially abandoning the traditional fashion seasons. John Phillips/Getty Images for Gucci
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Gucci is the latest fashion designer to announce that the pandemic is forcing it to change the way it does business. The brand announced it’ll stop showing new designs at fashion weeks worldwide, and eliminate three of the five fashion shows it’s traditionally held every year.

Other designers are calling for radical change in the industry, while a number of brick-and-mortar retailers — most notably Neiman Marcus — have filed for bankruptcy.

When Gucci announced that it was slashing the number of fashion shows it’ll hold, it wasn’t surprising to people who watch the sector.

“The shift hasn’t really begun with COVID, it was perhaps accelerated by it,” said Jennie Vry Liu, executive director at the Yale Center for Customer Insights. 

That’s because “having to come out with new fashions every single season in a hope that these fashions will sell is a problem for businesses, they’re overproducing,” explained Jeff Galak, a marketing professor at Carnegie Mellon.

Fashion had already been under pressure to change, said Thomai Serdari, who teaches luxury business marketing at NYU. To become more inclusive and to reduce its carbon footprint. And the fashion calendar year — planned far in advance — feels outdated in the age of fast fashion like H&M and Zara. 

“A lot of the influence comes from online channels,” Serdari said. “People were eager to see what new things were coming out from brands that were going direct-to-consumer and that had already bypassed the traditional channels of marketing.”

Traditional channels like fashion shows. Then there’s the shuttering of retailers. Sucharita Kodali, an analyst with Forrester, said that means Gucci and other brands have to figure out how to make up the sales they would have made through those stores. 

“Brands now have to sell their own merchandise, putting pressure on them to try to be more efficient,” Kodali said.

And with many brick and mortar stores closed, that’s going to take some creativity.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s going on with extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

It’s been weeks since President Donald Trump signed an executive memorandum that was supposed to get the federal government back into the business of topping up unemployment benefits, to $400 a week. Few states, however, are currently paying even part of the benefit that the president promised. And, it looks like, in most states, the maximum additional benefit unemployment recipients will be able to get is $300.

What’s the latest on evictions?

For millions of Americans, things are looking grim. Unemployment is high, and pandemic eviction moratoriums have expired in states across the country. And as many people already know, eviction is something that can haunt a person’s life for years. For instance, getting evicted can make it hard to rent again. And that can lead to spiraling poverty.

Which retailers are requiring that people wear masks when shopping? And how are they enforcing those rules?

Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, CVS, Home Depot, Costco — they all have policies that say shoppers are required to wear a mask. When an employee confronts a customer who refuses, the interaction can spin out of control, so many of these retailers are telling their workers to not enforce these mandates. But, just having them will actually get more people to wear masks.

You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.

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