Luxury and fashion brands will need to ramp up online operations in response to a hard-hit physical retail sector, as COVID-19 accelerates deeper shifts characterised by the now-digital Shanghai Fashion Week.

Figures from Boston Consulting Group, reported by the Financial Times, estimate a 25 to 35% plunge in revenues. Analysts describe a particularly odd combination that makes the 2020 shock quite different from the 2008 recession.

“To this you have this added uncertainty in the market about the crisis, prolonged store closures which you didn’t have in ’08, and disruptions to manufacturing,” Sarah Willersdorf, head of Luxury at BCG told the FT.

While a fairly quick rebound is expected by the consultancy, shifts – such as that witnessed in Shanghai toward shoppable catwalks – are part of a greater prevalence of technology in all corners of our lives as social distancing accelerates our reliance on digital experiences during the absence of the physical.

This is now clearly visible in the live streaming of Shanghai Fashion Week, broadcast on Tmall, Alibaba’s online marketplace. The show will work with the company’s live-streaming shopping service, Taobao Live, throughout the week that concludes on Monday.

Reported in the South China Morning Post, the show’s pivot to digital follows some efforts by Paris and Milan fashion weeks, which went ahead prior to the Coronavirus’s impact on France and Italy resulting in strict lockdowns.

Broadcasting the shows is not hugely new; the major innovation is the integration of buying options into the viewing experience, along with comment options on the autumn/winter collections. What’s more, many of the catwalks will take place with green-screens behind the models to boost VFX.

“We have integrated some of Alibaba’s most advanced technologies to bring a new and elevated experience to consumers,” explained Mike Hu, Tmall’s general manager of fashion and FMCG.

Sourced from SCMP, Financial Times, WARC