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Kanye West's Paris Fashion Week Surprise

This week, everyone will be talking about Kanye West at Paris Fashion Week, the watch industry's troubles and the coronavirus' financial impact. Get your BoF Professional Cheat Sheet.
Kanye West performs Sunday Service during Coachella | Source: Rich Fury/Getty Images
  • Brian Baskin


At Paris Fashion Week, the Show Goes On

An attendee wears a torn face mask at Paris Fashion Week | Source: Getty Images

    • Paris Fashion Week typically goes out with a bang, ending with the some of the biggest shows of the season, including Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Miu Miu
    • Coronavirus concerns have led to a few show cancellations — most recently, APC backed out — but the largest brands are moving forward and the French government has given the green light

One of the strangest fashion months on record is in its final days, likely with the triumvirate of Chanel, Miu Miu and Louis Vuitton on Tuesday. While the vibe on the ground is generally serene — with less double kissing and more wide smiling than usual — it's quieter, given that many editors, buyers and publicists have stayed in their respective countries, or left early to get a jump on company-mandated self-quarantines. The French government has banned events with more than 5,000 attendees, but even the biggest fashion shows fall well below that threshold, and the big brands appear to be moving forward with their plans.

, however, has twisted the narrative further by making the (seemingly) last-minute decision not only to show his latest Yeezy collection on Monday night after

, but also to hold one of his now-famous Sunday Services this morning. It took place at a beautifully decrepit church in Paris’ 10th arrondissement, with his choir, gathered around their leader and a simple white wood piano, dressed in a tan surgical scrub-like

. They sang for nearly an hour and a half, the starting point for a day where fashion would explore spirituality, community (Issey Miyake) and yes, the end of days (Balenciaga).

The Bottom Line:  Kanye may have upped the ante, but McQueen is also sure to grab attention, given the brand's strong recent performance (Kering referred to the brand's 2019 sales as "remarkable," "excellent" and "very strong" in its last earnings report.)  

-Lauren Sherman contributed this item

The Watch Industry Clears Its Calendar

Swiss watchmakers' problems include the Apple Watch, Hong Kong turmoil and now, coronavirus | Source: Getty Images

  • Swatch and Seiko cancelled conferences scheduled for this week due to the coronavirus; industry-wide events Watches & Wonders and Baselworld have also been pulled
  • The outbreak has hit the retail sector in China, Japan, Singapore and other Asian countries that Swiss watchmakers rely on for much of their growth
  • The Swiss watch industry's sales have been outpaced by Apple, though luxury timepieces continue to sell well
The weeks after fashion month are typically filled with watch conferences put on by global players like Swatch, Movado and Seiko, culminating in Watches & Wonders and Baselworld in April. Coronavirus has effectively wiped the calendar clear, including Baselworld's postponement Friday. The outbreak and its potential economic consequences are a body blow to the already ailing watch industry, which has seen business hollowed out by the Apple Watch and turmoil in Hong Kong, Swiss watch sellers’ top export market. Swiss watches were once seen as recession proof — even the unemployed must know the time, the thinking went. But that's unlikely to be the case today in the event of a coronavirus-induced downturn, at least on the low end of the market, where wristwatches are no longer an essential purchase. Meanwhile, the cancelled watch fairs deny the world's top brands a key opportunity to debut the ultra-expensive timepieces they increasingly rely on for growth.
The Bottom Line: The disruption to the trade show schedule may be the catalyst watchmakers needed to find new ways to sell their products. Long before the coronavirus outbreak, many within the industry saw watch fairs as outdated — why gather in Switzerland when new customers are in China and existing ones increasingly shopping online? 

Is the Stock Market Rout Over?

Stock markets plunged globally last week as concerns about the coronavirus grew | Source: Shutterstock

  • The S&P 500 plunged 11.5 percent last week, its worst weekly performance since October 2008
  • The coronavirus outbreak could cost European retailers over $4 billion in lost sales over the next six weeks
  • Abercrombie, American Eagle, Nordstrom, Kohl's, Urban Outfitters report quarterly earnings and are likely to give updated guidance
It's difficult to predict how the coronavirus outbreak will play out, now that cases are being reported globally. Investors are bracing for the worst, handing US share indices their biggest weekly decline since the financial crisis. Fashion is squarely in the crosshairs of nervous investors, who no doubt are worried China’s empty stores and closed malls will soon be a common sight in the US and Europe as well. Many American brands are getting hit from both sides, facing the prospect of prolonged disruptions to their Asian supply chains and plunging retail sales in their home market. We'll find out how they are preparing for both eventualities as a raft of mass brands update investors on their 2020 outlooks this week. 
The Bottom Line:  A strong e-commerce operation would theoretically be an asset if shoppers stay home en masse (Farfetch was notably optimistic last week that it could weather the outbreak). But online sales are just as vulnerable to an economic downturn, which would hit discretionary spending across the board. 

Correction: Due to an editing error, the date for the Yeezy show was listed as Sunday. It is Monday.


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