China's virus outbreak gives business a chill, blocks three brands from Milan Fashion Week
MILAN (AP): Italian fashion officials forecast a nearly 2% drop in first-half revenues due to the virus emerging from China, which is also preventing three Chinese fashion houses from travelling to Milan Fashion Week later this month.
Chinese consumers are the biggest luxury spenders in the world, including in Italy, where they represent 35% of big-ticket spenders, more than Russians, Arabs and Americans combined, according to a 2019 study by Global Blue, a tourism shopping tax refund company.
Their absence during the Chinese New Year travel period is being sorely felt in Milan’s MonteNapoleone District of luxury boutiques, where 48 brands have created capsule collections dedicated to the Year of the Rat in anticipation of the usual influx of Chinese tourists.
A drop in big-spending Chinese tourists along with the negative impact on luxury sales in China, where Italian brands have a strong retail presence, are expected to decrease first-half revenues in the Italian luxury industry by 1.8%.
That will in turn put a drag on projections of 3% revenue growth in 2020 over the 90 billion euros ($99 billion) posted last year, according to Italian National Fashion Chamber president Carlo Capasa.
"Everyone hoped that we would grow this year, but instead we have this terrible setback,’’ Capasa said Tuesday. ‘’We hope that they find a solution and there is a relaunch.’’
Also due to the coronavirus, the Chinese fashion houses Angela Chen, Ricostru and Hui had to cancel their runway turns during Milan Fashion Week, which runs from Feb 18-24, while an estimated 1,000 Chinese journalists, buyers and other fashion industry insiders also will be absent.
The fashion chamber will express its solidarity with it partners in China with a digital event, showcasing eight Chinese designers over video with runway shows, backstage peeks and interviews.
The initiative, titled 'China, we are with you,' will open with a runway show of a Chinese designer whose production is mostly in Europe and the United States, so is unaffected by the virus, Capasa said.
The identity of the fashion house was being kept secret.
"We want to confront this emergency with a positive message, trying to keep ties very open with our Chinese partners," Capasa said.
The Chinese brand Annakiki was able to maintain its place on the schedule because 95% of the apparel collection was already in Milan and its accessories are all made in Italy.
Designer Anna Yang was still in Shenzhen, putting the finishing touches on the last pieces before travelling to Milan.