Fashion + The Global Crisis

Coronavirus: affecting us and our fashion industry

On January 11th, the Chinese media reported their first death from coronavirus. By February 27th, the UK had also reported deaths, linked to the newly named, COVID-19. On 23rd March, our government announced a lockdown. Over the last couple of months, the media has had a lot to say on the virus, but how justified is their reaction?

Are some coronavirus headlines exaggerated?

This is a worrying and, quite frankly, terrifying time for the majority of the world’s population, and the media haven’t necessarily made it easier. Some headlines can come across as strongly worded or sometimes even exaggerated. For example, this one from the Telegraph states that “Coronavirus puts life on hold.” Personally, I know that if I was scrolling through Facebook and came across this, I’d jump to conclusions, and be outraged at the mere suggestion of pausing life! If the public choose to only read the headline, they could accuse the media of scaremongering. However, upon further inspection, the article is just a reminder about working from home and not travelling.

These over-exaggerated headlines can have quite a negative effect on our mental health. They can increase anxiety and worry. They can lead people to drink more, in turn leading to more cases of depression. But surely the media is justified in using such strong headlines, due to the nature of coronavirus?

In my opinion, the severity of the headline should match the tone of the article itself. For example, if the headline reads, “Coronavirus kills hundreds”, then the article should be very serious and reflect on these deaths. Likewise, if the headline reads, “Work from home to stop Coronavirus spread”, then you expect the article to be more relaxed in its approach.

Can headlines encourage panic buying?

It’s possible that some of these harsher headlines have led to people panic buying. For example, a headline from The Guardian reads, “UK goes into lockdown against Coronavirus.” Everyday, we see these articles fly past as we scroll through our social media feeds. Is it possible that people see these and panic? You can imagine what someone’s thought process might be. They read the headline, think it’s cause for panic, and they run to the supermarket to stockpile things they don’t need.

This headline implies that the entire country is going to be shut down and food will be scarce. However, all is not as scary as it may seem. A culmination of other articles, and watching the news explains how food shops are still open and that it is only unnecessary services that are closing during the lockdown following the official advice of the government.

It seems as though there is no need to panic after all.

Perhaps ignorance needs a reality check

At 8:30 pm on the 23rd March, Boris Johnson announced that the UK would be going into lockdown. This came as a result of people ignoring the social distancing advice given by the government. The weekend before the lockdown saw tourists flock to the coast, spreading coronavirus to non-affected areas and mingling in shops, bars and attractions.

The media and the government had both stressed the importance of self-isolation to stop the spread of coronavirus. Yet people continued to ignore them. Clearly, the headlines were not enough. You’d think that the seriousness of the coronavirus headlines would scare the public into staying at home. But perhaps, it’s a case of the boy who cried wolf. Headlines have been scaremongering for as long as there have been newspapers, and now, when the exaggeration is justified, the people choose not to listen.

Personally, I believe that the media have had the correct response as they have highlighted the importance of self-isolation and the dangers of not complying with the advice. They have stressed the dangers of this pandemic so that people can take notice and act upon it. They have warned us that it is not to be taken lightly. The media has made a reality check for those choosing not to wake up, and smell the danger.

What effect is coronavirus having on the fashion industry?

The media have had much to say on the effects this virus will have on the fashion industry. With China the first to go into lockdown, the fashion industry witnessed the start of a detrimental chain of events. Events such as Shanghai Fashion Week, due to take place on March 26th, were cancelled. The next cancellation? Milan Fashion Week. It wasn’t long before designers were cancelling in advance as a pre-emptive strike.

It’s a given that events would be cancelled at a time of global lockdown, but coronavirus has also affected sales. Ralph Lauren had reported a sales decrease by an estimated $55-70 million. CNBC also claimed that Capri Holdings have experienced a loss of $100 dollars. On the whole, it’s small businesses and independent designers that are facing the biggest hits.

However, it’s not all negative within the fashion industry. Giorgio Armani has donated €1.25 million to Italian hospitals. Now is a time when brands come forward to support society in its time of need.

China going into lockdown had a serious effect on the manufacturing of clothes. How many items do you own that say “Made in China”? Chances are, it’ll be most things you own. Due to the lockdown, manufacturing ceased and brands struggled to meet the demand for their products. Amy Smilovic, designer of New York brand Tibi claims there is now a shortage of zips as they are manufactured in Northern Italy. She believes, because of this, buttons will be the trend for fall.

What about the future of fashion?

Due to the current global lockdown, garments are not being manufactured. Events and shows are being cancelled. Shoots, press previews and styling are not happening. Currently, we don’t know how long this is going to last. Of course, the industry is doing its best to continue remotely wherever possible, but the lack of contact proves difficult in such a tactile industry. The fashion industry has been growing at a rapid pace since the late 1950s, only to come to an abrupt stop in 2020.

It’s going to take a while for the industry to pick itself up, certainly financially. It will have to re-build, start again and continue at a slower pace. Could this be the final nail in the coffin for the high street and will online shopping become the new norm?

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