What to watch, where to watch it, where to buy it
and what the heck is going on.
From shows to shopping to seasons to supply chains, the coronavirus has meant the end of the fashion world as we knew it. Instead we’re about to get movies! And playlists! And a lot less stuff! Here’s everything you need to know about what is happening next, updated with new information as it evolves.
What to Watch and When
July 6 to July 8
Paris Couture Shows
The schedule is finally out! OK, it’s only days before the shows begin, and we still don’t have much idea what they will actually look like (most will be something like short films or videos), but better late than never. Besides … surprises are fun! Here are our top choices for what and when to tune in. All times are CET, and all the films will broadcast live on The New York Times for all to see during and after.
Monday July 6: Starting it off is Iris van Herpen, the independent Dutch designer known for her way with technology, streaming what is sure to be a phantasmagorical experience at 12, followed, at 2:30, by Dior. As the first of the big LVMH names to reveal its digital experiment — and a brand known for pulling out all of the stops for its IRL productions — the stakes for Dior, not to mention the production values, will be high.
Finally at 6, Olivier Theyskens, lord of gothic romance and the former designer of Nina Ricci and Rochas, makes his debut for Azzaro couture. It’s a tough time to try to revive a heritage brand, so it will be interesting to see how Mr. Theyskens seizes the moment.
Tuesday, July 7: High noon means … Chanel, the only big name of the day. Virginie Viard, the current designer, has taken a more low key approach to her shows than did Karl Lagerfeld, but she can build a set in the Grand Palais with the best of them. We’ll have to see if she will continue the tradition digitally.
Wednesday, July 8: Maison Margiela, designed by John Galliano, kicks things off at 10 p.m., and given Mr. Galliano’s imagination, what he does for digital couture is anyone’s guess. At 4, Viktor & Rolf, whose shows are surreal in the most standard of times, unveils its Big Idea, so expect the unexpected. And finally, at 6. Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino will offer a preview of what to expect from his full-fledged — on real models! — couture show in Rome on July 21.
Speaking of the main Valentino event, that one will come from Cinecittà Studios and will take place in front of a real audience of a very few select viewers, and be live-streamed to the world. A collaboration between Mr. Piccioli and the SHOWstudio creator Nick Knight, the live event will “bring together the human and the digital touch creating a dialogue where neither of them will take the lead.” Guess we’ll just have to watch it to see what that actually means.
Sitting it out is Armani, waiting to show in January in Milan; Givenchy (Matthew Williams, the new designer, just started); and Balenciaga, which has postponed its return to couture under Demna Gvasalia until January.
As for Dolce & Gabbana, the house is planning a couture show in Italy but not during couture week. (To be fair, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana always do their own couture, which they call Alta Moda, their own way). On Sept. 2 and 3, the designers will hold their men’s and women’s couture shows, both in Florence, in two events created to celebrate the city’s artisans. And, presumably, the very rich people who will wear their creations.
July 14 to July 17
Milan Digital Fashion Week
This may be remembered as fashion’s season of faith — in salvaged economies, in the continuity so essential to its cycles of creation (and, yes, production), in a return to a thriving pre-viral scene that can seem strangely distorted when viewed in a rearview mirror. Optimism is hardly the word to describe Europe as it emerges from the shadow of the pandemic. Yet there are hopeful signs in the efforts of many Italian design houses to shift from physical to virtual presentations.
Foremost among these is Prada, a label where anachronism and innovation are natural elements of the blend. On 2 p.m. on July 14, Prada will livestream its men’s wear collection, in a format it declined to disclose at press time. A spokeswoman for the label would concede that Raf Simons, brought in as co-creator of Prada in April, will not participate in a full collection until the September shows. Thus this is presumably the last of Miuccia Prada’s solo efforts and worth watching on that bittersweet account.
As though this were an ordinary season, a cluster of virtual or digital presentations create a logjam on July 16, with Ermanno Scervino at 11 a.m., Ferragamo at 1 p.m., Dsquared at 2 and Tod’s at 3, all piling on with virtual presentations that each label it its own way preferred to keep a mystery.
The following day, July 17 at 2 p.m., Gucci makes it somewhat easier to follow along in real time with a show titled “Epilogue” that was originally supposed to have been a cruise collection and shown in San Francisco. Birthplace of free love, the Cockettes and gender nonconformity in general, San Francisco has recently become a creative touchstone for the label’s artistic director, Alessandro Michele. And it is fun to imagine what he might have pulled off had a pandemic not made the city by the bay seem as distant as Mars.
Following Gucci on the 17th at 3 p.m. is the Ermenegildo Zegna “phygital’‘ show. Once you get past the unfortunate coinage, there is likely to be something important we can glean from a show largely based on this industrial giant’s efforts to pivot toward sustainability and adaptive reuse. Zegna, remember, is not only a major label in its own right but owns the mills and factories that produce dozens of brands that carry the Made in Italy label.
June 29 to July 5
While the physical version of the immense Pitti Uomo men’s wear fair in Florence, Italy, has been postponed until January, a virtual platform called Pitti Connect goes live online at the end of June. It aims to showcase highlights from the 1,200 labels that exhibit there, as well as (we hope) one or two of the always compelling guest designers (Telfar Clemens, Sterling Ruby and Virgil Abloh are alums) that have consistently made this fair the place to watch for trends.
Sadly, the mass migration of fops that make this fair the delight of street-style shutterbugs will be forced from the theatrical proscenium of a piazza outside the 16th-century Fortezza da Basso direct to Instagram. The Scandinavians have been a stealth force here in recent seasons. One insider shortcut is to follow the people followed by @konradolsson, the editor of Scandinavian Man.
July 9 to July 13
Paris Men’s Digital Fashion Week
Historically, Paris is the payoff capital in the men’s wear cycle. If London is about experimentation, New York street energy, Florence emerging trends, Milan commerce (and Prada), Paris is the culmination of all these elements. It is here that the experimentalists (both fledgling and seasoned) like Rei Kawakubo, Rick Owens and Craig Green choose to show, here that big houses with muscular budgets make defining brand statements.
The governing body for French fashion has yet to release a schedule, but Kim Jones, the Dior Men designer, confirmed his commitment to a presentation, albeit a digital one, on July 11. Rick Owens, who used the lockdown as an opportunity to amp up his kooky Instagram diary, will also show. “How not totally sure,’’ Mr. Owens said in an email. “But definitely not silent.”
To avoid the Epcot Center effect of most digital presentations, Ms. Kawakubo, fashion’s acknowledged thought leader, has elected to showcase all of the labels under the Comme des Garçons umbrella in a video presentation held during Paris Fashion Week, though staged at her headquarters in Tokyo.
New York, London, Milan,
Paris Spring-Summer 2021
All of the governing fashion week bodies insist that the September and October shows are going to go ahead as planned, though no one is willing to say exactly what form they’ll take.
New York Fashion Week will showcase both men’s and women’s wear shows. So will Milan.
Burberry was first out of the gate with a (still somewhat vague) curtain raiser for what to expect from them on Sept. 17: a live show (on real models!), set somewhere in the wild British outdoors, but without an audience, that will be “immersive” and digitally available for the world.
Fendi is also having a live show on Sept. 22, though not in Milan. Instead, it will unveil its collection at its Rome HQ, with maybe some actual guests in attendance. Yup, you read that right: actual guests. It’s unclear how many, though, or how far apart they will be sitting, from one another or the models.
The Paris dates will be Sept. 28 to Oct. 6, and the Chambre Syndicale, which runs the thing, announced that it will “comply for its implementation to the recommendations of public authorities.” So that’s a lot clearer, then.
Some big brands will be missing:
Dries Van Noten The designer said he did not expect to embark on a fashion show again until February 2021, although whether he would then plan to show spring in spring, or stick with the traditional rhythm of showing fall-winter six months ahead of time is still unclear.
Off-White New Guards Group, which owns the license for Off-White, has announced that Off-White will no longer be part of Paris Fashion Week but will instead introduce its next collection, for spring 2021, in stores in February. Thereafter, the company said, “The collections will be organized by monthly installments and will satisfy any commercial need, leaving Virgil Abloh all the creative space he needs.”
Potentially showing in some form, but perhaps later in the fall, and not during the official Milan shows: Gucci. But when it does, it will show men’s and women’s wear together.
Despite fears of new spikes in virus cases, Florence is laying plans for what the Pitti Uomo organizers called a major event in September. “Physical remains essential in a digital world,” said Raffaello Napoleone, the chief executive of Pitti Immagine, the fair’s governing body.
New York Fashion Week: Men, which broke apart well before the coronavirus altered the landscape, promises to be a ragtag affair. A handful of designers will post digital presentations, while others plan to move their online shows to September to conform to the women’s wear schedule.
The scrappy New York Men’s Day, notable as an incubator of new talents, may yet step unto the breach, with familiar talents like David Hart forgoing his fascinating themed presentations (Blue Note records was the inspiration for one) in favor of a direct-to-consumer collection posted to his website; and Private Policy, notable in the past for politically charged presentations, compiling a digital look book in lieu of a show.
Making Their Own Schedule
Dior may be toeing the industry line when it comes to couture and men’s wear, but when it comes to cruise, the brand has its own plan. Originally scheduled for May 27, the show will instead take place on July 22 at 9 a.m. The big news here: It will actually TAKE PLACE. Yup, it will be coming to us live from the Piazza Duomo in Lecce, Puglia (whose craftspeople and artists are the inspiration for the collection, and where designer Maria Grazia Chiuri’s father was born). There won’t be an actual audience, but there will be real, live walking models.
As to why: “Nothing conveys emotion like a real fashion show,” Pietro Beccari, the Dior chief executive, said in a news conference announcing the decision. “The setting, music, story Maria Grazia tells through her clothes, the electricity you feel in the moment, the adrenaline …” Also: the waiting, the gossip, the celeb spotting. Whether this will be still be true when no one is there watching, Instagramming and judging remains to be seen.
Saint Laurent, led by Anthony Vaccarello, plans to “take control of its pace and reshape its schedule,” at least throughout the rest of 2020. (It says it will be back on the official Paris schedule in 2021). What does that actually mean? Who knows! Saint Laurent hasn’t been any more specific than to write that it will “launch its collections following a plan conceived with an up-to-date perspective, driven by creativity.” Well, OK then.
Michael Kors also revealed plans to reduce his show collections to a mere two a year (men’s and woman’s combined), which he will unveil on a calendar more akin to the old New York Fashion Week. You know, the way it was before 1998, when it came after the European shows, til Helmut Lang got sick of everyone saying New York designers were copying the Europeans and jumped the queue to early September.
According to an announcement, the spring/summer 2021 Michael Kors Collection “will be presented sometime between mid-October and mid-November 2020, with the format of the presentation still currently under exploration.” The fall-winter collection will then take place “sometime between mid-March and mid-April.” Vague enough for you? The idea is to shrink the time between seeing and shopping, though retailers will get an early viewing.
Plus A Brief Recap of What Has Happened Already
June 12 to June 14
London Men’s and Women’s Shows
This season the event formerly known as London Fashion Week: Men’s was transformed into an all-gender digital event that encompassed virtual showrooms, short films and designer Q. and A.’s. Published content now has a permanent home online on londonfashionweek.co.uk, with plans to make this new Netflix-style platform a continuing resource and archive for the London fashion scene.
With no live runway shows and few new collections, this iteration of fashion week was always going to be a bold experiment (and not about clothes). The question was: Could a digital equivalent, watched from your sofa, ever be the same as the real thing?
Click here for some of the highlights.
The Scoop on Shopping
Have shops opened again?
In many of Europe’s major retail hubs, yes. You can shop in Paris and Milan, two cities hit hard by the outbreak. Large shopping areas in Dubai and Tokyo also reopened to the public in early June. Retailers in China and Hong Kong have been up and running for months now.
In the United States, most states and cities have allowed stores to reopen. In Los Angeles, for example, they reopened on May 27. (Nationwide, however, several popular shopping districts have been affected by closures and damage amid the recent protests.)
On June 8, retail stores in New York reopened, but only for order pickups — not browsing. London shops will remain closed until June 15.
OK, but are people actually shopping?
In the United States, it’s a mixed bag. When Georgia reopened in late April, people flocked to stores, restaurants and salons. But newly reopened malls in California have been described as “ghost towns.”
Foot traffic should gradually improve. In April, retail sales fell by a record 14.7 percent, according to the Commerce Department. The May numbers looked better, but sales were still down compared to February (pre-pandemic in the United States), and as the Times reported, the future isn’t looking bright.
Are new hygiene rules or standards in place?
Yes. Some rules are mandated by local governments, but others are being implemented, and advertised, by the stores themselves — part of a strategy to “over-communicate” cleanliness to wary shoppers.
Typical measures include increasing store cleanings, enforcing social distancing — with signs or reconfigured store layouts — offering a lot of hand sanitizer and requiring sales associates to wear masks and submit to temperature screenings.
But how will this change the experience of shopping?
You will probably notice the most significant changes at beauty stores or counters. (No touching allowed!) Fitting rooms will likely have reduced availability, and items will go into quarantine after they are tried on. At checkout, phones and tablets may replace registers, and cash will be discouraged or not accepted at all.
You may also notice sales associates hovering more as you shop. High-end retailers in particular are trying to figure out how to nail customer service when their employees have to stand six feet away from customers and cover half of their faces. Super-personalized service is one solution. Everyone is a V.I.P. now.
Stores will likely be emptier for a while — not just because shoppers are spooked but because businesses are limiting occupancy to promote social distancing.
Some stores are also requiring customers to wear face coverings. For more information about a specific store’s policies, it’s best to check its website or call to inquire.
What about sales?
There is a growing movement to reset the sales calendar, so that instead of major markdowns happening in November (or earlier) and May, they will take place according to a more logical seasonal calendar, allowing clothes to be delivered to stores in the months they will be worn, stay on shelves at full price for that time and go on sale only when they are less relevant. Lane Crawford, Saks and Nordstrom have signed open letters committing to this plan.
Giant cruise shows. The planned exercises of one-upsmanship formerly known as cruise, which were adding a third show season to the traditional two — you know, the ones where Louis Vuitton goes to Rio or Dior to Marrakesh and they bring all the bells and whistles and models and V.I.C.s (very important clients) for a three-day shindig and show — were canceled this year, and there are no signs that any company plans to restart them. Gucci publicly committed to only two shows a year, and the C.F.D.A. and B.F.C. came out in favor of the change.
Elizabeth Suzann, a Nashville label known for its devotion to slow fashion and linen sack dresses, closed in April after seven years.
Jeffrey, a wildly influential high-end store in Atlanta, Manhattan and Palo Alto, Calif., opened in New York City in the meatpacking district in 1999 and closed for good in May, by order of Nordstrom, its owners.
The Modist, a luxury fashion e-commerce platform catering to modest dressers, closed in April.
Peter Pilotto, the women’s wear label founded in London by Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos, won acclaim for its elegant shapes, digital prints and a cultish celebrity following. They designed Princess Eugenie’s wedding dress last year. But an Instagram post this spring confirmed that they had decided to press “pause” on the brand, for now.
Sies Marjan was one of the most hyped new labels on the New York fashion scene. It was founded in 2016 by the Dutch designer Sander Lak, who was an alumnus of Dries Van Noten and a fierce advocate for a rainbow palette in a city renowned for its penchant for black. The closure of stores because of the coronavirus, coupled with the downfall of Barneys New York, where Sies Marjan had an exclusive deal, hit the business hard. On June 16, Mr. Lak announced that it was shutting its doors. Hours later, the official Sies Marjan Instagram account was deleted. He didn’t say what he would do next.
Long Tall Sally, the British retailer dedicated to bringing fashion to the towering among us, announced it would close its doors in August, prompting an outpouring of grief from those for whom it was a singular resource.
Has everyone forgotten about sustainability?
For years, brands and retailers have been racing to prove their green credentials. They recycle (or so they say). And upcycle (at least a little bit). They say they are carbon neutral (or plan to be). Many make lofty promises to be more transparent and socially conscious. But the coronavirus, and the related store closings and economic losses, has raised new questions about the industry’s commitment to sustainability.
Will fewer fashion shows mean less production by the fashion industry?
Although there have been significant delays to the production of collections by luxury fashion houses, most businesses say they still plan to present new offerings later this year. This is despite several proposals from groups of independent designers and executives mooting major changes to runway shows, the fashion calendar and discounting practices.
For the fast fashion sector, it looks to be a different story. As stores closed across Europe and the United States, many retailers canceled orders for clothes, bags and shoes worth billions of dollars from Asian garment factories, forcing them to close and lay off hundreds of thousands of workers.
A few retailers are making new orders, but the long-term survival of Asia’s garment factories is uncertain.
Will the carbon footprint of fashion week be reduced, given that so many are now taking place online?
Yes, for now. Just to attend the ready-to-wear collections, tens of thousands of professionals fly to four countries in a single month. Simple math indicates that the exercise is a veritable bonanza of carbon emissions, and if, as expected, the schedule of runway shows will be vastly reduced in September, so, too, the carbon footprint will come down.
What will happen to the inventory that has not or cannot be sold?
In the world of fashion retailing, in which stores try to keep inventories closely matched to sales, even a small stack of unsold clothes can be a bad sign. Billions of dollars worth of unsold inventory has piled up in warehouses as a result of the pandemic.
According to McKinsey, the value of excess inventory from spring-summer 2020 collections is estimated at 140 billion euros to 160 billion euros ($159 billion to $182 billion) worldwide, between €45 billion and €60 billion ($51 billion to $68 billion) in Europe alone. That is more than double the level in a normal year.
So what will brands and retailers do with it all? Ideally sell it, either by themselves or through wholesale partners, although many consumers will soon be looking for fall clothing. Unsold items used to be burned, though increasingly that practice is frowned upon (just ask Burberry) — and actually outlawed in France.
If the stock doesn’t sell, most businesses will have to slash prices or pass it onto discounters. After that, it could end up in giant landfill sites in developing countries, adding to a huge and existing environmental issue for the fashion industry.
Are fashion seasons still going to be a thing?
Depends who you ask. Many designers are mulling over how they define “season”: Alessandro Michele of Gucci said he is thinking of his collections like pieces of a symphony; Giorgio Armani has announced his couture will be “seasonless”; and at Carolina Herrera and Dries Van Noten (among others) there are discussions about showing spring clothes, at least to the public, in spring, and fall in fall.
Still, most of the luxury powerhouses have stayed quiet in recent weeks, so it’s unclear whether they’re ready to give up the old way of doing things.
Will fashion brands still invest in sustainability in the way they said they would?
The pandemic has put much of the fashion industry into panic mode. After years of carefully investing in corporate and social responsibility policies, many businesses are now fighting to survive.
Inevitably this makes spending on initiatives more difficult, at a time when consumers are more conscious than ever about the values and actions of the brands they buy. Petitions and social media campaigns like #PayUp are attempting to put pressure on brands that have yet to pay for orders produced in countries like Bangladesh. A number of recent reports, including one from the Boston Consulting Group, say that the best way for fashion companies to guarantee their future is by maintaining their environmental and social commitments.
What can I do as a consumer?
Do your homework, particularly when it comes to fast-fashion retailers. Research which companies have been treating their workers well and have paid for orders made before the coronavirus outbreak. Look into what companies say about their environmental practices. Note those who don’t say anything at all.
Be mindful about what you buy. Think about your relationship with acquisitions. Invest in things you’ll wear for years rather than throwaway looks you wear for one event or post on Instagram.
Support independent designers whose futures aren’t certain.
Look into resale instead of buying new clothes.