For years the elite fashion stores in our major cities, like London and Paris, have welcomed tourists with open-arms as big spenders, but with the outbreak of Covid 19 leaving the big cities like ghost towns, the big designer names are struggling, with no fashion weeks, lack of celebrities on the red carpets to share their designs, and stores and ateliers all closed. It seems that fashion is yet another victim of Covid 19.
We are all aware of how the High Street has struggled, with big names like Cath Kidston, Warehouse and Oasis, the Arcadia group, Debenhams and English classic brand Jaeger all falling victim to the virus, which, combined with the decline of High Street shopping, the rise of online only brands like ASOS, has seen shops shutting at an alarming rate. No one seems to be able to avoid the slump, with even the High Street colossus Primark has seen staggering losses due to having its stores shut and no online presence. The elegant designer stores of Bond Street have also had to close their doors, abandon the traditional fashion week, and look again and their designs. In the luxury sector, brands are predicted to experience a £8.78 billion decline in sales this year according to a new report in Elle magazine.
But fashion, and the industry is fighting back. Jivad Marandi, a prominent British fashion business investor who is investing substantially in the UK Fashion Industry, has said that there needs to be an emphasis on supporting British businesses in the realms of fashion, rather than the asset stripping that has been a notorious by product of the decline of the High Street. Marandi, who is an investor behind successful British design names like Anya Hindmarch and Emilia Wickstead believes that investors should have a long term view, rather than just short term rescue bids.
Fashion houses are also looking at the power of online in order to stage fashion catwalks, trunk shows and films that can showcase their brand beautifully, and of course from a social distance. Fashion Weeks can still work as a shop window, even if they have to be done completely digitally in order to go ahead, and in many ways these shows can meet an even wider audience, so may actually work better in the long run.
Fashion is sometimes seen as frothy and frivolous, especially in the middle of a global pandemic, but the truth is that it is a massive part of Britain’s trade, with British design and style one of our true strengths. It will need a lot of support to emerge from the pandemic in a good way, but with the determination and foresight of designers and entrepreneurs, this should be something that can be achieved.