The Coronavirus Reveals the Twisted Conformity Between Fashion and Fear

Published on February 6, 2020

In a time where the world is witnessing a new global health epidemic, the fashion industry is struggling to stay relevant by capitalizing off fear.

Thursday yielded saddening news following the death of Dr. Li Wenliang, the doctor who discovered the coronavirus and tried to warn the world of it…but by the time Chinese law enforcement realized their mistake, it was too late. The damage was done.

At Dr. Wenliang’s early recommendations to avoid infection, he encouraged everyone to wear protective clothing and masks. The most harmful effects resulting from the coronavirus are mostly concentrated in East Asia and China, where it seemed to have originated.

However, in the general global market, China continues to represent itself as a global fashion leader, contributing to more than half of the world’s textile productions.

How Our Global Fashion Brands Are Reacting

But the virus isn’t just affecting the 20,000 plus people identified from 26 countries — it’s impacting the fashion industry hard. According to Glossy, fashion brands across the world are feeling the effects of the virus in the forms of store closures, travel restrictions, and a forced change in the way they work (and market themselves).

We all know that China is a key manufacturing hub and consumer market, but several sources, according to Glossy, believe the industry will continue to suffer if things continue to get worse.

“Our next few launches are already done, but after that? I don’t know,” Beth Cross said. Cross, a co-founder and CEO of boot brand Ariat, said that just in the last week, there have been noticeable effects, which have the company’s Chinese office closed until next week, while other employees are stuck in the country and unable to return in fear of introducing a strain into the U.S.

“My personal opinion is that it’s going to be a big fat mess,” Cross added.

“We’re private and we’re quite diversified, thankfully, so usually, no single event will have a huge effect on us. But this is a big event. We’ve talked about what would happen if China were to go to war with another country, and this feels like that, in terms of the disruption.”

How to Style An Epidemic

Now, this may sound completely awful, but given the industry’s current status abroad, fashion leaders are learning how to “style the epidemic.”

According to NBC News, Britain’s Tatler, a Condé Nast publication, published an article with the puzzling headline: “How to style an epidemic.”

Despite the circumstances, Tatler’s piece does provoke interesting thought. Aside from emerging mainstream needs for surgical face masks, the desire to not look as depressed or sick, is outweighed by the desire to look ‘fashionable’ while coughing up and down the street.

Fashion Icons Are Keeping Glamour Alive During Crisis Mode

The publication continued to explain how the surgical face masks are “preventative pieces available that won’t jeopardize your style.” Amidst the crisis, some international fashion gurus like Gareth Pugh, Marine Serre, and Matty Bovan have taken the opportunity to rock their newest ‘brand’ masks, which are now being sold at British department stores. That’s right, you can even find your Louis Vuitton cover-up.

Part of the twisted conformity behind choosing fashion over fear has to do with seeing celebrities on Instagram posing with them. These influencers usually get by on social media as they also offer advice as to how to deal with the stress of the coronavirus.

Of course the dark side of the net has found fault with this. These posts are being followed by hashtags such as #travelblogger, #travel, #coronavirus, #coronavirusoutbreak, and #vlogger.

Some influencers are opting to actually help around.

Jada Hai Phong Nguyen, a Vietnamese social media personality, is one of them. Aside from the usual picture, she also shared genuine tips to stay healthy: wash hands with soap, drinking plenty of water, etc. Her choice regarding face masks is, as per her post, the “Cambridge Mask N99 Pro.”

Capitalism At Its Finest

Aside from China’s economy suffering and brands’ businesses booming, there is still one thing that we haven’t consider — actual medical masks. They are the originals, of course, which is why they have been on high demand ever since before the coronavirus broke out. All in the fields of medicine and beauty-related businesses (such as nail salons).

The masks were cheap and easily accesible to all hard working people. Now costumers are succumbing to inflated prices in diverse cities such as Hong Kong, Paris, Milan, Vancouver, and Sydney.

It’s fair to say that, no matter the angle, humans will do the impossible to benefit from serious infections, such as the coronavirus. If you excuse me, I will be on my way to get a face mask. I just don’t know which style I prefer.

Argenis Ovalles is an Editorial Intern at Grit Daily. He currently writes at Vocal Media and Theater Pizzazz.

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