Fashion industry evolves, as virus forces a rethink

Full Screen
1 / 4

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2021 file photo, model Kate Moss, left, and her daughter Lila Grace Moss wear a creation for Fendi's Spring-Summer 2021 Haute Couture fashion collection presented in Paris. The pandemic has torn a multibillion-dollar bite out of the fabric of Europe's luxury industry, stopped runway shows and forced brands to show their designs digitally instead. Now, amid hopes of a return to near-normality by the years end, the industry is asking what fashion will look like as it dusts itself and struggles to its well-heeled feet again. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)

PARIS – The pandemic has torn a multibillion-dollar bite out of the fabric of Europe's fashion industry, stopped runway shows and forced brands to show their designs digitally instead.

Now, amid hopes of a return to near-normality by the year’s end, the industry is asking what fashion will look like as it dusts itself off and struggles to its well-heeled feet again.

Answers vary. Some think the Fashion Week format, in use since the 1940s, will be radically rethought. Others believe Asia will consolidate its huge gains in influence. Many see brands seeking greater sustainability to court a younger clientele.

“The impact of the pandemic will be unquestionably to increase the importance and influence of Asia on fashion,” said Gildas Minvielle, economist at the Institut Francais de la Mode in Paris.

“Luxury in Europe has already rebounded but it’s only because it’s globalized, only because of Asian buyers," Minvielle said. "They spent on European brands.”

Asian buyers are still considered a largely untapped market, yet their wealth has recently tipped over that of Westerners. China, in particular, was already considered the worldwide engine of growth in the luxury industry before the pandemic. Its quicker containment of the virus will leave it in an even stronger position.

“In the next 50 years money will come from the East as it has been (coming) in the last 50 years from the West,” said Long Nguyen, chief fashion critic of The Impression.

This could see a designer aesthetic that panders more to Chinese tastes.