South Korea’s top fashion event, scheduled to run March 17-21, has been called off following a surge in cases of COVID-19 over the weekend. The country has reported the largest number of confirmed cases after mainland China and is approaching 1,000 infections; 144 new cases were reported on February 25 and eight deaths have resulted from the virus as of February 25.
South Korea is facing "a grave turning point" in its virus-fighting efforts, President Moon Jae-in told reporters after a meeting with ministers and experts over the weekend. According to the Bank of Korea, the country’s Composite Consumer Sentiment Index (CCSI) dropped 7.3 points in February — the largest decline since 2015, when South Korea was hit by Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
Coronavirus fears have already disrupted fashion week events in Milan, where Giorgio Armani cancelled his show and streamed it digitally. In Bologna, beauty trade show Cosmoprof Worldwide has been postponed until June. A lockdown was imposed on ten North Italian towns on February 23 and over 229 infections and 7 deaths have been reported in the country as of February 25.
The following day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 1,000 points — its steepest decline in over two years. On February 24, Italy’s main market index slumped by more than 5 percent and South Korea’s benchmark share index sank 3.9 percent — its worst day since October 2018.
According to The Korea Herald, around 165 buyers were invited to the previous season of Seoul Fashion Week, consisting of 135 Asian buyers and 30 buyers from the US and Europe. Thirty six labels were slated to showcase their new collections on the runway next month, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Government.
Both Shanghai Fashion Week and Beijing’s China Fashion Week, originally scheduled for March 26 and 25 respectively, have been postponed. Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo, slated to kick off on March 16, has yet to make an announcement.