Live From New York
New York Fashion Week begins on Sept. 8
It’s the first time the event will take place largely in-person since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic
The schedule features a few returning names as well as a number of designers showing in New York for the first time
After two consecutive seasons of being nearly all virtual, New York Fashion Week is back. This year’s event officially kicks off on Wednesday, though a few names, like Christian Siriano and Harlem’s Fashion Row, will show on Tuesday as part of the CFDA’s American Collections Calendar initiative. Unlike in years past, NYFW will conclude on Sept. 13 with a pared-down version of the Met Gala, rescheduled from its original May date due to the pandemic.
Covid-19 restrictions put a live NYFW on pause in February of this year and September 2020, leaving the event in somewhat of a limbo. But change was already afoot, regardless of the pandemic. A number of the biggest names in American fashion were electing to show off-calendar, like Marc Jacobs, who presented his Spring/Summer 2022 collection in June, or outside of New York entirely, such as Thom Browne, who shifted to showing in Paris in 2017. This year, however, is an opportunity for a return to form. Several designers who had fled New York are returning to the calendar, including Browne as well as Rodarte. Additionally, a number of new names are on the calendar for the first time, including the much anticipated runway debut for Peter Do, giving NYFW a jolt of excitement at an opportune moment.
Fashion week is set to go on despite concern over the Delta variant — attendees will be required to show proof of vaccination to enter shows, though there is no mask mandate for the event. But handling the pandemic is just one challenge the CFDA and IMG, NYFW’s co-hosts, face this year.
The Bottom Line: With American designers returning or electing to show in New York for the first time, NYFW has more industry goodwill at its disposal than it’s seen in years. At the same time, the shows are still dogged by the same questions that existed prior to the pandemic – from the declining importance of wholesale retail and traditional fashion media to emerging designers’ struggles to turn industry buzz into sustainable businesses.
So Long, Summer
The Labor Day holiday marks the unofficial end to the summer in the US, and despite optimism at the beginning of the season, what lies ahead for the fashion industry is uncertain
The pandemic continues to wreak havoc not just on scheduled operating plans, but also causing ongoing supply chain issues
Retailers need to prepare for how those issues will affect the all-important holiday sales season
It wasn’t quite the “hot vax summer” many of us hoped for after all. The season began on a promising note: the European Union opened up travel to Americans (though the privilege was not reciprocated), mask mandates were relaxed across the globe and companies set return-to-office dates for the early fall. However, the Delta variant put a damper on hopes for a pandemic-free summer, and as we head into the autumn, it’s continuing to cause disruption.
The European Union last week removed the United States from its safe list of countries, recommending the reimplementation of travel restrictions, a decision that threatens to stall recovering tourism. Meanwhile, many companies are pushing return-to-office plans. For fashion brands, the impending end-of-2021 holiday season gives reason for further worry, including the pandemic-induced supply chain delays and an uncertain economic outlook.
The Bottom Line: Autumn is arriving with a lot less optimism than summer brought, and the latest pandemic challenges will ensure that at least for now, normalcy is ways off. But in fashion, it’s not all bad news: Despite the partial backtrack on travel and other restrictions, stores remain open and foot traffic — along with consumer spending — have not yet seen a significant hit.
The End of Pandemic Benefits
The last of the American federal government’s pandemic unemployment benefits will end this weekend
The cessation comes as the number of job openings nationwide remains high, which has given job seekers newfound power throughout the year
The benefits likely boosted apparel spending, and without them, there’s reason for concern that consumer sentiment will take a hit
Months after they were reintroduced, this weekend marks the end of the added federal unemployment benefits in the United States, a milestone that could shake up the job market and decrease consumer spending. Early on the pandemic, a number of financial support programs were put in place under the CARES Act, which has dolled out $1.5 billion in weekly unemployment payments, with the programs issuing a total of $794 billion, according to the Department of Labour. Many states have already stopped offering the additional benefits, but as it stands, the jobless in states where the programs remain will see the loss of $300 a week in unemployment benefits.
Fashion may experience a fall in consumer spending with the end of government aid — in particular, stimulus checks — having helped boost the number of shoppers in stores. Already, renewed concerns over the pandemic have hampered retail spending, with sales falling 1.1 percent in July — more than expected.
It also comes as the country is facing a historic shift in the job market as businesses across sectors deal with staffing shortages. In August, the US added 235,000 jobs, missing estimates, and by the end-June, there were 10.1 million job openings nationwide. The circumstances have been a boon for workers in service and retail industry jobs, who for the first time in years have leverage to demand better pay and benefits. Many companies have responded, rolling out childcare programs, raises and referral bonuses, among other changes, to recruit employees. The state of the job market today is leading to a growth of calls for the government not to extend the unemployment benefits, saying that it was harming businesses’ ability to hire. However, in states that already cut off the benefits, there hasn’t been a meaningful difference in job growth.
The Bottom Line: The loss of extra income will undoubtedly ding consumer spending, just as consumers are comfortable returning to stores.