Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 6 April 2020

Fashion fallout: luxury labels including Prada and Chanel cancel shows in Asia amid coronavirus crisis

Shanghai and Beijing Fashion Weeks have also been postponed due to the epidemic

The Chanel Metiers d'Art, which was held in Paris in December, has cancelled its China edition in April. EPA
The Chanel Metiers d'Art, which was held in Paris in December, has cancelled its China edition in April. EPA

A number of fashion brands have been forced to rearrange their schedules after calling off shows in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

French maison Chanel is the latest luxury fashion label to announce it will postpone a catwalk show following the virus epidemic, which has infected more than 71,000 people – primarily in China – and killed more than 1,800 patients.

Chanel has called off a Metiers d’Art show which was due to be held in Beijing in May, though a similar show is still set to go ahead in London in June.

“Considering the current situation and following the guidance of Chinese authorities, Chanel has decided to postpone its project of a replica of the Paris – 31 rue Cambon 2019/20 Metiers d’art collection in May in Beijing to a later and more appropriate moment,” a statement from the brand said, without giving a new date. “Chanel is monitoring the situation closely. At the foremost are the health and well-being of its teams and clients."

The 31 Rue Cambon show was first held in Paris in December, inspired by the studio and workshop of founder Coco Chanel. The decor was created by the film director Sofia Coppola.

Prada, similarly, has postponed its resort 2021 show, which was due to be held in Japan on Thursday, May 21.

"This decision was made as a precautionary measure as well as an act of responsibility and respect for all the people working on and planning to attend our resort 2021 show," a spokesperson for the luxury Italian label told WWD, without confirming a new date or location. "Prada extends its sincere sympathies and concern to all the people and territories affected by this situation."

The show would have marked the first time Prada had hosted a runway display in the Asian country.

Fashion weeks also affected

Shanghai and Beijing Fashion Weeks, meanwhile, have also been cancelled due to the virus, which first originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December. The fashion weeks, which were due to be held in Shanghai from Thursday, March 26 and Beijing from Wednesday, March 25, have been indefinitely postponed, as countries around the world have stepped up efforts to contain the virus and prevent new infections.

“We hope that everyone will stay vigilant and pay attention to the government’s advice,” said Lv Xiaolei, Shanghai Fashion Week’s vice secretary-general. “The organisation will focus on keeping up trade, communicating with all parties, and finding a solution to the situation.”

Burberry, which was also due to hold a show in Shanghai on Thursday, April 23, has cancelled the event, according to the Financial Times.

In the UK this week, as London Fashion Week took place in the capital, designer A Sai Ta of Asai was forced to abandoned his scheduled show, with the Shanghai factory, where his collection was produced, shut down amid the coronavirus crisis.

"We've had one designer that isn't able to show because their collection hasn't arrived from China due to the logistics issues," Rush told Reuters ahead of the show's opening.

Before LFW started, British organisers said Chinese attendance was expected to be “significantly reduced” and only three Chinese labels remained on the schedule at London Fashion Week.

Mithridate hosted an event at the V&A Museum on February 16, but without its designer Demon Zhang, who couldn’t leave Guangzhou. Her collection was dispatched to London last month and organisers established digital links with the designer on the night for media and buyers wanting to discuss her collection. Fashion designer Huishan Zhang, who is based between London and Qingdao, had already planned for his business closure in the latter over the Chinese New Year period and so his collection arrived early in the UK ahead of his show on February 17.

“At this point, [our] main concern is the loss of human life and the global crisis we are facing,” says Zhang, adding that his retail and wholesale operations have not been impacted yet by the tragedy. “Our team is back in the studio in Qingdao and with the information we are provided over the coming weeks we can make a plan. The industry will be more than understanding as it affects most, if not all brands.”

For Bosideng, it was touch and go that its collection of luxurious down-filled jackets and street-style sportswear could be shipped in time from Shanghai and the show was nearly cancelled. The brand is supporting those fighting the epidemic in China by donating 300 million yuan worth of down jackets for workers in the frontline of epidemic prevention, and is using all its factories to produce protective clothing. “It is not easy to cope with the situation there,” designer Pietro Ferrangina said after the Bosideng show. “This was more than one fashion show today; it was about the power and the soul of the Chinese people.”

The epidemic has also created aftershocks at Paris Fashion Week, which will take place between Monday, February 24 and Tuesday, March 3, where a number of designers have scrapped their shows.

Masha Ma, Shiatzy Chen, Uma Wang, Jarel Zhang, Calvin Luo and Maison Mai have all pulled out of the French capital's fashion week, with many buyers, editors and influencers from China and neighbouring countries also not travelling to fashion month shows, due to quarantining regulations.

Lower Chinese attendance at fashion weeks is potentially a major blow for fashion brands since Chinese spending accounted for a third of luxury global market sales in 2018, according to Bain & Company.

Promo tour shut down

It wasn't only fashion brands feeling the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, with Art Basel Hong Kong, which was meant to take place in March, also cancelled in light of the epidemic.

The Beijing premiere for the latest James Bond Film, No Time to Die, has also been canned, according to Chinese media, as well as a promotional tour which would have involved some of the franchise's actors visiting the country.

Updated: February 24, 2020 02:09 PM

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