Covid-19 Is A Stern Test For The World
The World is in tatters right now. This new Covid-19 virus is now a pandemic and hitting hard our lives both physically and mentally, while challenging the global economy. Needless to say that the impact of Covid-19 on the fashion and shoe industry is heavy.
Which is exactly the topic of today’s article. More famous shoemakers closing their workshops every day and global behemoths suffer great losses. Frankly I couldn’t care less about companies like Adidas that exploit third world countries for huge margins. But I do care about the people that get no salary or lose their job because of this. Many families that are the backbones of our communities will suffer the most, along with small businesses. Including The Noble Shoe.
While I will talk about the industry as a whole I will focus a lot on the shoemaking factories as well. I will also give you some tips on the way.
Wash your hands, grab your tea and let’s go.
Which Countries Face The Biggest Issues?
This is a hard question to answer mainly due to the fact that Covid-19 cases multiply daily around the world. China is of course the original source and had a very bad initial viral outbreak. South Korea let it slip and faced increasingly difficult times.
Of course there was no escape for popular country USA but the legal system is different there. Apparently each state has to decide individually if they go on lock-down or what laws to enforce. New York for example is now shut down.
The Covid-19 impact hammered Europe the most. Many countries are on lock-down or very restricted movements while air traffic is reduced to zero. Italy mourns hundreds of dead people each day in Lombardy and Bergamo, while Spain faces a huge outbreak too. They say that the Champions League match between Atalanta and Valencia was the catalyst for the spread from supporters.
Sweden (where I live) takes a rather relaxed approach and people roam around parks and clubs like nothing. Even my home country Greece has fines for those that go out without proper reason. The biggest colossal dingleberry of them all was Boris Johnson (UK) that considered allowing the virus to spread. Recently he came to his senses and enforced some shut-down laws.
This is not a political blog however so let’s focus on the task at hand.
Why The Above Section?
Think about it. Most of the big companies make their products in China now. This leads to a global shortage of things, production and factory shutdowns. Then you can add the disruptions in the logistics chain and the massive losses of revenue from closing the physical stores.
Adidas, Suitsupply, Meermin and many more companies will post low numbers this year. The same goes for all the “luxury” designers that make their products there.
Then we move on to my dear shoe industry. The best shoes in the world come from small workshops in Italy and the legendary Northampton region of the UK. Followed by Spain and Portugal of course. With the strict laws and fear their workshops are now closed for the foreseeable future.
If you take only one section of the whole production process out, then the whole chain breaks. But health and safety comes first to mitigate the spread’s curve.
Impact Of Covid-19 on Fashion & Clothing
Simply put, there are no trunk shows or runway shows going to happen any time soon. The Milan Fashion Week in late February was a victim of all this for example. Giorgio Armani for example held his runway in an empty theater. Most malls and department stores closed and will remain closed for the foreseeable future.
This amounts to tremendous revenue losses and most companies are already in debt. It also leads them to lay off workers or send them home in unpaid leave. Let’s not discuss the effect of the Cov-Idiots that hoard toilet paper and pasta.
Most companies that are smart switch their business model to digital and sell online their ware. For the most part this is not affected. You can still buy your favorite suit from Suitsupply online or Pini Parma is another example. Smart fashion brands switch their runways to virtual or live-streaming shows.
Crossing slightly to shoes, Adidas reported that business in China was 85% down compared to last year. And that was for January. According to reports China accounted for 21% of Adidas’ total business in 2018. And believe me €4.5 billion in sales is not a small number!
Other companies such as Sociedad Textil Lonia offer to turn their production in medical gowns and masks for Spain. Luxury Brand Kering expects a 15% decline compared to last year. Chanel, Hermès and Gucci among others also closed their production in Italy, Switzerland and France for now.
One of the biggest potential losses for them is the postponing of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the Euro 2020 Finals. Both huge sources of income and revenue for multiple industries but absolutely mandatory that they move their dates.
Impact Of Covid-19 On Shoe Industry
We already discussed why this outbreak is sad for the shoe industry. The finest calf comes from France and Germany too which can cause other issues. Undandy still feels the remnants after a very difficult quarter (Story here). Of course there are no Trunk Shows and the Shoegazing London Show moved to October instead.
As I am more qualified to report in this section, I will make a bullet list of all the shoemakers I have news from. Let’s give it a shot.
- J.FitzPatrick Footwear: Temporarily closed due to New York Mandate (No Shipping)
- Loake: All stores closed
- Cheaney: All retail stores closed, online shipping still works in specific intervals
- Tricker’s: London Jermyn Street Store and Northampton factory shop closed from March 20 until further notice
- Edward Green: No news
- Gaziano & Girling: Factory & Shops closed
- Saint Crispin’s: No official news
- TLB Mallorca: No official news but Skolyx has enough stock
- Carmina: Seems to be working as normal with reinforced staff
- Meermin: Closed physical stores, online unaffected
- Antonio Meccariello: Workshop closed (or working remotely)
- Maftei Vienna: Workshop closed temporarily, still available for order
- Cobbler Union: Online functions as usual
- Allen Edmonds: All Brick n’ Mortar closed, online seems unaffected
- Paolo Scafora: No news
- Altan Bottier: Cryptic archive captions on Instagram, assuming closed retail stores
- Caulaincourt: No official word, assuming closed
- Septieme Largeur: No news other than free online shipping. Assuming retail stores closed
- Enzo Bonafe: Closed since 13 of March
- Vass Budapest: Website down for reconstruction, all stores closed
- Heinrich Dinkelacker: Retail stores closed
- Carlos Santos: Production continues as normal
- John Lobb: All UK and French stores closed, extended online delivery times
- Crockett & Jones: All stores closed, operational online
As you can see the list is massive and it is not even close to complete. Retailers such as Pediwear and A fine pair of shoes continue to sell online but all physical stores are closed. I don’t think there is much more to say here as I got really depressed looking at the news. We don’t know how long this will last, but we can all stay together and positive.
Will The Industry Recover?
Of course it will. This was just a massive indicator that everything is fragile and the world economy is not ready for this. However when we get vaccines and the situation stabilizes and people start to get their jobs back it will slowly return to normal.
It is certain however that for the next time something happens companies will try to prepare better. The landscape of fashion and shoes will change fundamentally. I believe many companies will shift production to other countries and invest heavily in the digital age. Hopefully governments will also aid companies by tax-relief, covering salaries or giving low interest loans.
Time will tell but a boom always follows a recession.
What Should You Do?
First of all there is no need for panic. Stop reading the rubbish stories of the media that clickbait you and want to take advantage of the situation and sell. “Expert said that, expert said this”. Even computer websites I follow spam now articles about Covid-19.
Don’t panic, keep clean and wash your hands well. Avoid contact with sick people and limit going out for a bit unless necessary. Feeling sick or showing potential symptoms? Call a health professional. We will get through this.
Support Local & Small Businesses
For those of you that lost jobs or face uncertainty, take care of yourself and your families first. Priority number one. If however you are still ok, please consider supporting small and local businesses at these times of dire need. The big boys like Adidas and Nike will survive no matter what. But purchasing a shoe from a small retailer instead of Nordstrom might mean they can pay their rent.
The truth is that luxury shoes are not an essential commodity during this challenging period of uncertainty. This industry will hurt the most and the Covid-19 impact really shows its teeth. The Noble Shoe is one of the affected businesses and we need you now more than ever.
As the owner of The Noble Shoe which is a one man operation I am offering you 15% off the Carlos Santos Patina Service until the 5th of April (currently says 31 March but I will extend). If you decide to use it or buy one of my shoes, I will be eternally grateful.
When I started The Noble Shoe I had no idea about almost anything. I went with the flow. One of the people that helped me begin my journey was Gaurav from Canada. He operates a small shoe shop selling really high end shoes online.
He is specializing in Vass and Enzo Bonafe shoes. Right now he has some really exciting Pre-Orders available from Enzo Bonafe with 50% down-payment. You can actually choose from 24 models!
If you can, give him some support as well. Pre-Orders close March 30.
After The Rain Comes The Rainbow
This concludes this different type of article about the impact of Covid-19 on the Fashion & Shoe Industry.
The future is not bleak. Don’t let them get in your head. Be careful, be clean and care for your family by staying home. Things will eventually return to normal and become even better. If you are among those not affected much and can support us, we are grateful. It might be a good time to detox from the internet and media and focus on obtaining new skills or hone old ones.
I from The Noble Shoe and Misiu Academy along with all the other small local businesses out there wish you the best and hope to see you around. Be safe!
Thank you for reading,
Another issue that will probably affect shoe industry after things get back (or as close as possible) to normal, is the shut-down of tanneries; Horween has already done so. When manufacturers let their machines roll on again, hopefully soon, it’ll be a logistics nightmare to use their raw sources before they become scarce.
First world problems though; what is now more important is the public health and the minimisation of the damage to economy.
Definitely! The general good thing is that factories (should) have stocked leather. At least Carlos Santos did when I was in the factory! Let’s hope this situation goes away as soon as possible so we can slowly get our lives back on track!
Some leather types (such as shell cordovan – though more a membrane technically) require many months in their tanning process. Less important though now, compared to the mess we’ve landed into.
Stay healthy and support your small, local and decidated business!
For sure! We will see where this takes us! Shell prices already went up a few months ago. I believe it will take the biggest hit. Let’s hope not. Be safe!