THE CHEAT SHEET
The Lockdowns Return
- California, Oregon and other US states have reimposed lockdown orders as coronavirus cases surge
- Though the orders do not apply to stores, fear of infection is keeping many shoppers anyway
- US apparel sales shot up by 105 percent in June from a month earlier, the fastest growing category in retail
The alarming spike in Covid-19 cases across much of the US has upended many retailers' recovery plans. A month ago, most of the country had reopened, and traffic at many stores was, if not approaching pre-pandemic levels, at least trending in the right direction. Some states have once again closed bars and restaurants, and stores could be next if local outbreaks aren't brought under control.
It may not matter whether states extend lockdown orders or not, as consumers in the worst-hit areas are unlikely to be in the mood to shop. A growing number of retailers are requiring shoppers to wear masks in an effort to limit infections and project that their stores are safe to visit.
Aside from infection rates, watch for negotiations in Washington over the next round of federal stimulus. Republican lawmakers are hesitant to approve hundreds of billions of dollars in new federal spending, but with aid to millions of unemployed Americans scheduled to end on July 31, expect pressure for a deal to mount this week. New US jobless claims data is due out on Thursday, which will provide an update on the state of the world's largest economy.
The Bottom Line: The new wave of Covid-19 cases couldn't have come at a worse time for retailers, as many were just beginning to see the post-lockdown spending surge they will need to survive.
The Last Hurrah for Digital Fashion Shows?
- Valentino will hold its couture show at Cinecittà Studios in Rome on July 21
- Shows intended for digital audiences have mostly failed to capture same attention as physical shows
- Dior will also hold its cruise show in Italy, also live without an audience, on July 22
The consensus after London, Paris and Milan is that digital shows are perhaps not the future of fashion week. Many brands are expected to return to some sort of physical presentation before a live audience in Paris, Milan and London. A few have done so already, with Etro, Dolce & Gabbana and Jacquemus inviting small audiences to live shows in Paris and Milan last week.
It's not unthinkable for a fashion show to find an online audience. Miuccia Prada's show, her last before Raf Simons joins the brand as co-creative director, was a hit with some critics. Virgil Abloh's short film, marking the first stop in a months-long, globetrotting tour for his Spring/Summer 2021 men's collection, racked up millions of views on social media.
Valentino is ramping up expectations for its couture show, which will be broadcast live online from Cinecittà Studios in Rome, the heart of Italy’s film industry. The brand hired photographer Nick Knight for a preview trailer during couture week in Paris, sending the message that its show will be a special event, rather than a one-to-one digital representation of its usual couture spectacle.
The Bottom Line: Designers who used the pandemic's disruptions as an excuse to play with the whole concept of a fashion show have fared best. Whether they continue to experiment beyond September remains to be seen.
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