As 2016 kicked off with a global stock market meltdown, the message was clear from the outset that this would not be a year for the faint of heart.
While a variety of news items would garner attention over the course of the past 12 months, four big themes dominated conversations and headlines.
Read on as FN breaks them down.
An Unprecedented Race for the White House
One of the most controversial presidential elections in recent history dominated headlines from the very beginning. The candidates’ stops along the campaign trail, the spirited debates and ultimately the victory of unconventional candidate Donald Trump were at the center of public discourse. The election run saw footwear executives duel it out over critical issues including trade and the Trans-Pacific Partnership as well as corporate tax cuts. Meanwhile, soon-to-be first daughter Ivanka Trump, founder of her eponymous accessories and footwear label, joined her father in shouldering a nationwide call for a Trump brand boycott.
On the Brink of Brexit
The United Kingdom’s largely unexpected decision to separate from the European Union left the fashion industry — and much of the world — scrambling this year. Overwhelmingly, the move to exit the EU was one that was unsupported by the fashion community, with a number of designers, including Vivienne Westwood, Katharine Hamnett and Patrick Grant, lending their names to campaigns in favor of London staying within the EU. Although it won’t take effect for two years, the results of the historic referendum sent global markets tumbling in June. A weaker pound, however, spawned a London shopping rush in the months that followed.
The Bankruptcy Debacle
Sports Authority, Golfsmith International Holdings Inc. and Vestis Retail Group all added their names to the bankruptcy court docket in 2016. While the demise of key sporting goods firms led many to question the viability of the space, Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. and Aéropostale also sought bankruptcy protection this year. PacSun and Aéropostale would emerge from bankruptcy with new leases on life, while Dick’s Sporting Goods would swoop in to snap up Sports Authority’s intellectual property and 31 store leases to capitalize on the firm’s downfall.
China’s Economic Saga
China’s stock market took investors and market observers on a roller-coaster ride as the country’s economic woes found their way into 2016. The world’s most populous nation and its largest exporter kicked off the year by halting trading on the Shanghai Composite twice in one week as the Mainland Chinese shares plummeted, leading to a global market meltdown. China continued to make waves throughout 2016 as its ongoing challenges with intellectual property garnered more criticism from U.S.-based organizations. On a positive note, Alibaba Group forged ahead, making a case for rebranding China as a consumption-based economy and placing less emphasis on its export activities.