The fashion landscape is changing for two of fashion’s largest capitals- Italy and China. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak the autumn-winter season is transitioning to a media-oriented platform. The virus has postponed many fashion weeks across the globe, but it will not stifle the culture. A culture built on art, expression and textiles that translate stories and experiences to all who wear and see them. Through it all, fashion has taken many hits and the community has adapted to new ways of artistic expression. Shanghai and Milan are perhaps the largest fashion hubs of the world. These cities were the epicenters of the most rampant outbreaks of COVID-19. The Shanghai fashion world has been able to hurdle the challenge of social distancing quite innovatively.
Shanghai went online with Tmall, an online retail site popular in China, to stream fashion week to the public from March 26 through March 30 to keep the yearly event alive amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. Shows were held on streaming services and many trade shows moved their ordering systems online. Due to the major impending impact of the virus on Chinese and various international fashion businesses, the Italian chamber showed their support by starting an initiative to back Shanghai’s fashion week. Milan’s fashion week was largely virtual with behind the scenes content for viewers. In China, around 25 million people tuned in to watch Milan’s event. Italy’s motion to continue fashion week online would set the tone for Shanghai’s fashion week.
The effects of COVID-19 reach far beyond the 2D world of social media and print. It’s important to note the impact of this pandemic on the fashion industry as a
whole. More than just a famous week is cancelled. Large events such as the Met Gala and various award shows have been postponed or cancelled. Not only fashion’s economy will take large hits- a third of the global sales in luxury goods is stimulated by China. They’ve increased this portion by nearly 20 percent for the last few years. COVID-19 threatens to halt this progression and jeopardizes a major part of the global and local economies. Fashion traders took their shows online in various ways to avoid losing devastating numbers.
Shanghai’s approach to this situation sends a very clear message: fashion is still breathing. The expressionism and culture that is fashion will not be suffocated by the dark. Lastly, and maybe most importantly of all, when the world stopped- people turned to art.