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Fashion Week executives have declared business as usual, as omicron surges on

Fashion Week presentations across New York and Milan are scheduled to go on, despite an ongoing rise in Covid cases.
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The fashion industry came together on the catwalk last week, as officials in New York, Paris, and Milan said the show business must go on.

In Milan, where daily Covid cases surpassed 200,000 (a record day for the city) just two weeks ago, major designers such as Armani canceled their shows entirely, while others like JW Anderson opted for a digital show. But industry execs have declared business as usual.

  • Fashion Week remains an integral source of both revenue and marketing for a brand, and additionally presents a significant opportunity for the retail industry, according to Erin Schmidt, a senior analyst at Coresight Research.

“Not only is Fashion Week important for major brands, but it is exceptionally important for the entire retail industry because all eyes are on high-fashion major brands to set the [fashion] agenda for the season; mass retailers and fast fashion look to runway shows as all of the Fashion Week trends inform and inspire designers and brands’ collections,” she told us.

What’s on? Dsquared2, Zegna, Prada, and Fendi are on the Milan Fashion Week calendar, which includes 22 presentations, and 18 digital content segments.

  • Over in New York, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), has released its calendar which lists a mix of physical and digital shows and includes NYFW mainstays like Tom Ford, Coach, and Proenza Schouler.

In the event of a physical show, CFDA and IMG have pledged to follow New York City’s Covid protocols—in place since September—including “mandatory vaccination, mask wearing indoors, and scaling back the size of audiences,” Steven Kolb, the chief executive of the CFDA, told Vogue.

Zoom out: According to Aoife Byrne, senior retail and runway analyst at market intelligence platform Edited, the strength of designers is “magnified” through physical, structured fashion weeks.

  • “Brands are stronger together than apart,” she said, “With precautions in place and [with] boosters rolling out, organizers and brands are in a far stronger position than they were this time last year. Physical fashion shows can help brands stand out in an overcrowded digital space.”

Still, digital fashion presentations are here to stay, as evidenced by several designers on the Fashion Week calendar. Schmidt believes they have their unique benefits. “The benefit is that the shows provided access to a much larger audience base, which would have never been able to see the shows in person, as most physical shows are exclusive events,” she said.—JS

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