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As The COVID-19 Outbreak Signals A Strong Aftermath, The Fashion Industry Steps Up

More than a week ago, when we discussed at length, the impact that the novel coronavirus would have on the fashion industry as a whole, we knew that sooner than later, the pandemic would directly hit the Indian market. 

On 24th of March, days after designers, publications, retail and sections of the industry chose a 'work from home' approach for its executives, the government declared a complete lockdown of the entire country, barring essential services, to combat the pandemic. For the fashion industry at large, it means shutting operations for at least the next 21 days, with the possibility of a further extension if things don't take a turn for the better. 

With all production and sales coming to a halt, but the cost of overheads, salaries and payments to maintain, it goes without saying that businesses will struggle to stay afloat. As per a statement by The International Monetary Fund, the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to lead to a recession which will be equal, if not worse, than the 2008 financial crisis.

The 21-day lockdown in India, which proposed that essential services and commodities would be made available to the public, has already started making an impact on how the industry functions. E-commerce platform Flipkart shut down services indefinitely (including grocery deliveries) in the country as of today. "Your needs have always been our priority, and our promise is that we will be back to serve you, as soon as possible," read the statement on their website. In the same vein, Amazon declared "prioritizing resources to serve products that are currently high priority for customers".  

In the United States, more than 90 business and councils, including the CFDA, wrote to the White House, highlighting their concerns about the economic slowdown in the industry and how they would require financial support from the government in these uncertain times. With no footfalls in the foreseeable future, some businesses may also be looking at filing for bankruptcy. As first reported by Bloomberg Law, luxury retailer Neiman Marcus is said to be considering the option.

Image Courtesy: Paul O'Connell on Instagram
Image Courtesy: Paul O'Connell on Instagram

Closer home, while the Prime Minister has announced "Rs 15000 crore to improve testing facilities, medical infrastructure, ventilators, ICU beds and training for medical and paramedical professionals", no industry-specific aids have been mentioned yet. 

Meanwhile, businesspeople and industry insiders have stepped up to help during the crisis. Anita Dongre became one of the first designers to set up a 15 million fund to cover medical emergencies in artisans and vendors associated with the brand. Amongst other donations, the design label Limerick pledged to donate 3000 masks for healthcare professionals and patients at the Kasturba Gandhi Hospital in Mumbai. Until shipping was functional, Postfold gave its customers breathable cotton masks with each order. 

Reliance Industries— with a number of retail operations including Reliance Retail which will continue to supply groceries, fruits and other everyday use products—announced that it would pay twice the amount to employees whose salaries fall below INR 30,000 to "protect their cash flow and mitigate any overwhelming financial burden." The company has also set up the country's first COVID-19 dedicated hospital in Mumbai. 

 

Well before the lockdown, many designers announced work-from-home policies for its employees to help contain the spread. Overseas too, a number of designers and brands have been active in helping manufacture essential products as well as donating. Donatella Versace announced a donation of 200,000 euros to a hospital in Milan; Valentino, Balmain and Pal Zileri's parent company Mayhoola declared it would be donating 2 million euros to be distributed across sections; LVMH started production of sanitizers in its manufacturing units and Kering declared production of masks at Balenciaga and Saint Laurent's French workshops for the country, a few amongst several others who rose up to the occasion. 

Take a look at all the detailed statements below. 

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The PG team has been working tirelessly over the course of the last week to finalize an actionable plan to manufacture PPE for medical workers and first responders who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. As a brand that produces over 90% of our collections in NY, our goal is not only to fill the void of critical PPE, but to mobilize our domestic partners, revitalizing US producers and suppliers. While we are eager to share our progress with you all, the Coronavirus crisis is ever evolving, and as new information is revealed, so are new FDA and state regulations. In this moment, credible and validated information is of the utmost importance for the advancement of all COVID-19 relief efforts. We are currently working in partnership with @nygovcuomo office & local hospitals to secure clearance to produce, and ensure the viability of our output. More updates to follow!

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2/3 • Mayhoola spokesperson says, “We are very close to the Italian population and we are constantly monitoring the evolution of the pandemic in the country. We are pained to see what is happening in Milan and we strongly hope that this decisive action can help the doctors and their teams of Sacco Hospital.” Mayhoola worked with Alessandro Visconti, General Manager at ASTT Fatebenefratelli Sacco Hospital, and Dr. Emanuele Catena, in charge of the Anaesthesia Department and Intensive Care Unit (ICU), in order to entirely cover all expenses related to one of the many urgencies that the Lombardy Health Care System is facing in these weeks. Mayhoola is making a donation of 1 million euros in order to achieve this goal. Alessandro Visconti and Emanuele Catena state, “We really would like to thank Mayhoola, Valentino, Balmain and Pal Zileri for their generosity and for having prioritized the health and safety of those fighting against this ongoing pandemic.”

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