A Fashion Week Season Without China

What happened:

A host of Chinese fashion editors, designers, buyers, celebrities, and influencers will not be able to attend the 2020 Fall Fashion Weeks due to travel restrictions imposed by the government’s of the US, UK, Italy, and France, as reported by WWD. To prevent the coronavirus from spreading further, dozens of nations have imposed entry restrictions for Chinese travelers, while many airlines have scaled back flights or outright stopped flying to and from China. Moreover, Chinese travelers are suggested to adopt a “self-quarantine” for 14 days before being exposed to public places. 

The Chinese editions of Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, and Instyle have partly or fully suspended their fashion week travel, and the Chinese press offices of European luxury brands are also reported to skip this season as well. The schedule of many Chinese fashion influencers and celebrities who had planned to attend the runway shows in NYC, London, Milan, and Paris will be disrupted. For example, Anny Fan, a top fashion KOL who has signed with The Society Management agency, has also confirmed she will sit out at least New York Fashion Week, according to Ladymax’s latest report.

Additionally, few Chinese designers will manage to stage their fashion shows as scheduled. Besides the possible absence of designers and staff backstage, their suppliers and factories in China have been restricted by the local Chinese government’s policy on halting work until Feb 10. Given this, Chinese labels Angel Chen and Ricostru have confirmed that they won’t show in Milan this season, while brands Uma Wang and Shiatzy Chen have yet to decide whether to show in Paris. Plus, other Chinese fashion talents who were expected to show at New York Fashion Week will be impacted by the coronavirus US-China travel entry ban. 

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The Jing Take:

The downturn in stock prices and the freezing retail situation during the Chinese New Year have hurt luxury groups in the past week. And now, the absence of Chinese fashion faces amid this difficult time period is undoubtedly exacerbating their business in the world’s largest luxury market. Having struggled to stay relevant with Chinese consumers, luxury players are losing the highly visible playground of Fashion Week season and all the opportunities of innovating buzzy moments.   

However, all is not lost. There will be a few Chinese brands still showing, and many European and US-based Chinese fashion editors, creatives and influencers, such as Declan Chan and Dipsy that can fill the front rows of the shows. And let’s not forget about livestreaming, which will be another solution for communicating with Chinese consumers who will have to watch the runway shows via social media due to the coronavirus. The current dilemma and challenges will end someday, but this situation might force a shift in the fashion industry and bring about a digital revolution in both retail and marketing.

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.

Editor’s Note, February 5, 2020: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Declan Chan and Dipsy are Chinese brands. The article has been corrected to properly reflect that Declan Chan and Dipsy are creatives in the industry.

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