In light of the current COVID-19 crisis, fashion events, shows, and festivals during fashion week in New York, London and Milan have been greatly affected and postponed. It is unknown what the future of fashion industry production and sales will hold. Some say it is a good time for change, others say quality and sustainability are the answer.

The Beginning of Milan Fashion Week Changes

Italy was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fashion industry was strongly impacted by the Coronavirus as the first signs of it struck around the same time as the Milan Fashion Week (MFW). The MFW women’s wear fashion season took place at the end of February 2020, and regardless of the outbreak, the shows went on.

For weeks following show week many of the attendees became worried as to whether or not they had contracted or transmitted the virus, especially the elite who sat in the front rows of the fashion shows. Some events were attended by up to 1000 guests. Even Miuccia Prada, the renowned designer, hosted her post-show meet and greet in Milan.

By the end of the month, when the long caravan of the women’s wear fashion season finished in Paris, the outbreak was out of control. Many fashion retailers were forced to close their doors, directly impacting the designers’ revenue. Many of the participants who attended shows had to self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to their homes. Typically at the end of the Fashion Week tours, the buyers would return to Milan to attend appointments with Italian designers, but that was cancelled as well. Many supply chains were also affected, inhibiting the production of fashion designs. Some of the largest Italian production hubs such as Bergamo, Cremona and Brescia were hit hard by the Coronavirus.

Pandemic Forces Many International Designers to Leave Fashion Week Events

Twice a year, the international parade of luxury fashion designers, reporters, retailers, executives, public relations professionals and high spending customers travel from New York to London to Milan and then to Paris. Even though a traditional women’s wear fashion week took place in March, the future MFW will be very different.

The Coronavirus has forced the fashion industry to make some substantial changes. Many fashion designers are either pulling their names from the Fashion Week calendar or coming up with new ways to reveal their latest collections. Some of these designers include:

  • Michael Kors
  • Gucci
  • Giorgio Armani
  • Alexander Wang
  • Yves Saint Laurent

Michael Kors has pulled his brand from the September Milan Fashion Week and decided he will show at a later date, sometime in the year 2021. Gucci has announced it will no longer be a part of the Fashion Week calendar and will be reduced from five to two seasonless shows per year. Giorgio Armani will present it’s men’s and women’s collections through an unknown format in September. The Armani Prive show has been postponed until January 2021, where it will be held at the Palazzo Orsini in Milan.

Men’s Milan Fashion Week Forced to Go Digital

Initially, the men’s Milan Fashion Week was scheduled from June 20, 2020, to June 24, 2020, to take place at different locations in Milan. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was postponed until mid-July. Shows will be available in a digital format only which includes photos and videos. It is now referred to as the Milan Digital Fashion Week. The digital event will present men’s spring and summer 2021 collections. The digital show will also include men’s and women’s pre-collections with slots for each label in an organized calendar.

This new way of presenting fashion shows is in light of avoiding person-to-person contact. It allows designers to promote their brands to buyers with no risk of spreading the Coronavirus. Digital fashion shows are an alternative means to promote designers, brands and new fashion collections when physical shows cannot take place.

Dolce & Gabbana goes live (but at a distance)

Unlike other designers who have opted for elaborate video productions, Dolce & Gabbana approached the digital age in a more traditional sense. In the spirit of “Italia Riparte” (Italy relaunches), Dolce & Gabbana wanted to show that Italy has not given up.

“For us the fashion show is irreplaceable.” The Dolce & Gabbana MFW Digital Fashion Show took place this week, on July 15 in the gardens of the University Campus of Humanitas Hospital.  A real-life outdoor fashion show which was broadcast live on the Digital Fashion Week platform. Hospital Humanitas is committed to Covid-19 research in finding a vaccine and effective treatments. All the participants, from hairdressers to models, to catering, to singers, donated their fees to the research institute directed by Professor Alberto Mantovani.

Watch Milano Digital Fashion Week live online July 14-17, 2020

The traditional live show fashion calendar is scheduled to resume in September unless otherwise announced.

Women’s Milan Fashion Week

The women’s Milan Fashion Week is scheduled from September 22, 2020, to September 28, 2020. It is one of the world’s leading events in the fashion industry. The women’s Milan Fashion Week typically is a widespread event involving many locations around the city. It consists of special events, runways, previews, presentations and sideshows. This event is attended by buyers, press members, photographers and professionals in the fashion industry. It is not a small occasion by any means.

The question is, will the traditional women’s Milan Fashion Week take place in September, or will it be a digital event? As it stands right now, the September event is scheduled to take place in a physical sense but will include digital support. Plans are in the works on implementing social distancing by limiting the number of guests and providing a digital component to support the shows. However, this could possibly change if there is a second wave of the pandemic. Milan’s Fashion Weeks are essential to promoting “Made in Italy” and the value of their manufacturing abilities.

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