Tracking the Fashion Industry’s Evolving Response to the Coronavirus Crisis

The world of fashion, like almost every industry and individual around the world, has been dramatically affected by the spread of coronavirus. In an effort to curb the outbreak of COVID-19, high-profile events have been canceled, stores have shuttered, and brands are directing their factories to manufacture essential supplies instead of clothing. Below we’re keeping up with the multitude of ways the industry is responding.

A closed Vans store, March 16, 2020.Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Brands and retailers are closing their stores

A long list of major retailers and department stores including Abercrombie and Fitch, Patagonia, Nike, Under Armour, Adidas, Levi’s, Vans, Supreme, Allbirds, Everlane, Urban Outfitters, Louis Vuitton, Nordstrom are closing their stores temporarily. Response varies by retailer: Gap is reducing its stores hours, many brands are closing down entirely but keeping their webshops open, and Patagonia is shutting down operations entirely until the end of March.

Smaller brands like Noah and Bode are trying something new in the face of the crisis: one-on-one appointments, which can be made by email. “We’re asking people to buy something,” Noah founder Brendon Babenzian wrote in an open letter. “Not necessarily from us, but from any independent businesses or creative enterprises you believe in.”

High-profile events are morphing or being postponed

On Monday, the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour announced the postponement of the annual Met Gala. Vogue will still preview the exhibition in its May issue, but we will be forced to wait for one of fashion’s biggest and most exciting outfit-spotting events of the year.

Meanwhile, Pitti Uomo announced plans to deal with the pandemic while moving ahead with its annual summer fair in June. The event will attempt to combine a physical and digital presence that will allow the brands dependent on sales made through Pitti to still connect with those unable to make it out to the fair in Florence. One of those efforts includes e-PITTI Connect, which will put retailers in touch with remote buyers. As Rachel Tashjian wrote yesterday, what Pitti is doing may offer a look at how the not-so-far-off fashion weeks will move ahead in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

A closed Louis Vuitton store, March 15, 2020.Stephane Cardinale / Getty Images

Brands are stepping up philanthropically

The fashion industry is in a unique position to help respond and potentially curb the widespread outbreak of COVID-19. For instance, LVMH is using its considerable manufacturing muscle to produce antibacterial gel, which has been in high demand and short supply since the start of the pandemic. Starting Monday, French factories that normally produce perfume and cosmetics Givenchy, Christian Dior, and Guerlain began making the gel with the goal of donating it to French health authorities and the country’s network of hospitals.

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