Story Centre: Italy and the Fashion Business amid Corona Scars

Italy- the fashion capital of the world and home to most celebrated shoe brands has been the most affected by global pandemic COVID-19. Amid large number of infected and subsequent deaths, the country is under lockdown and so is the industry which is backbone to prêt, high fashion and couture. Italy based fashion houses and brands are known to drive fashion fundamentals across the world – not to mention the fashion capitals and shows which are centre of great business – the business of Fashion.

For the worst, it all started from China were major stockpiling of raw materials, packaging materials and mass manufacturing takes place. So, the effect of it has been severe and for long. From as earlier in January to the March when the cases dwindled in both countries, there has been delay in procurement of raw materials and orders – also of packaging material. The cycle was disturbed – the pace was disturbed and it affects the brands more as they speak of high end customers and luxury clothing – where quality and time have unwritten sanctity.

The trade fairs have seen the dampest season especially in Milan where there were few buyers from manufacturing hubs of China and rest of Asia – who were battling the Coronavirus in the first phase. It was a hush-hush affair for many sellers who were forced to return back amid lockdown in Italy to contain the spread. The northern city of Milan is headquarters to some of the finest fashion brands, others have their manufacturing facilities. To the south, where there are leather goods and jewellery manufacturers – the crisis seems real with many orders being cancelled and subsequently affecting supply chains. At a time when fashion cycles have been shortest in history with concept of fast fashion and curated items, the stress on supply chain only adds to the problem – the margin narrows down for the eminent loss. The problem also amplifies because of the timing the pandemic spread – on one hand the fashion weeks just had their Spring Summer runways and merchandise was stock piled by brands, the other hand – it all had to stop abruptly. Many shows and events such as Met Gala, CFDA awards have been either cancelled or postpone.

Major retail stores like Macy’s, Selfridges, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue, have closed for indefinite period amid the outbreak. In the tough times, it seems the brands realize the importance of having digital footprint. When storm passes over, we might see more interaction from brands in luxury segment talk to a wider audience. As China holds to a third of luxury market and more than 70% of growth - it will be worth watch to see how the fashion leaders fight it back; for, the entire chain depends on them. Fashion trickledown map is a fairly nice theory and it is moment to keep watch over it – trends may rise from new places and in manners not anticipated. But it is surely a time to take break from mundane habits and think of new and refreshing ways to stay connected and understand people and the big picture: the new market of fashion.

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