Chinese Influencer Leaf Greener’s Inside Take on Coronavirus Impact & How European Fashion Capitals are Fighting Back

With major airlines cancelling flights out of China due to the Coronavirus, the Chinese fashion community, including buyers, press, and designers, have been effectively grounded.

Chinese editor and influencer Leaf Greener is one of the lucky ones who arrived in Paris way before the Coronavirus outbreak. 

FN met up with Greener in the French capital to get her insider take on the escalating situation.

“99% of people I know who are still in China have had to cancel their trips to New York and Milan Fashion Weeks,” she says, noting also that it is still Chinese New Year holiday until February 10 so the full picture is yet to emerge.

While she fully admits the virus is severe, she also urges against hysteria. “It’s people with underlying conditions who are passing away,” she says. “Be aware and protect yourself for sure but don’t take things to extremes and assume people are sick just because they look Asian.” Although she has not experienced Corona-related racism herself, she’s already heard about instances of this.

She says that people just need to make the best of it and focus on the positive. “Sure you want to do face-to-face [meetings] and get to touch the fabrics but people will have to focus on online communications.” With her own magazine platform on WeChat, she’s in a good position to advise. “A friend in China looks after [Japanese streetwear brand] Neighborhood and was due to come to Europe to work with Tomorrow [a multi-service fashion showroom] so I told her I can help and send videos and photos,” she said.

“I want to use the fact that I’m here to help the fashion community in Paris.”

Greener is also keen to support new talent, building bridges and communications with China and Western labels. She is one of the experts on the LVMH prize committee and will help choose the shortlist of finalists later this month.

Meanwhile, here’s what Europe’s fashion and trade show organizers are doing both to keep people safe and ensure the Chinese fashion community stay involved, albeit from afar. 

London

London Fashion Week: February 14 – 18

“Information and content distribution to China will be increased over London Fashion Week to ensure that the reach of the shows, presentations and exhibition will support ongoing commercial and editorial partnerships,” said the British Fashion Council today in a statement released to FN. “Due to travel restrictions from China we know that retailers, media and models are finding it challenging to organize travel to fashion weeks. We very much hope that our friends and partners in China are well and able to travel to London again soon. We will make every effort to ensure that the shows reach audiences that aren’t able to travel and are exploring additional partnerships to further increase reach,” said BFC chief executive Caroline Rush. In addition to general good hygiene practices and sanitation, the BFC has also announced that every evening, there will be deep cleanse of the event’s central hub at 180 The Strand plus anti-bacterial hand sanitizers available throughout the venue.

Milan

Milan Fashion Week: February 18 – 24. 

The Camera Nazionale della Moda (the National Chamber for Italian Fashion), organizers of Milan Fashion Week, were the first to respond to China’s travel lockdown in a practical way. On Tuesday, the chamber’s president Carlo Capasa announced his ‘China, we are with you’ initiative. The two-way project aims both to involve buyers, press and executives as well as the Chinese fashion community at large and support the Chinese designers who have been likewise grounded by the lockdown. The community can take part remotely via live-streaming, dedicated social media forums and backstage video and interview content, he said. As for the Chinese designers themselves who had been due to present their collections, they will have the opportunity to showcase their lineups digitally and via live video calls. “We prefer to build bridges instead of raising walls,” said Capasa, stressing the importance of the Chinese market to Milan. Reporting by Sandra Salibian. 

Micam, February 16 – 19.

Siro Badon, president of the footwear industry’s leading international trade show issued a briefing stating that the fair would proceed as scheduled and would abide by the recommendations of the World Health Organization and Italian Ministry of Health. “In order to safeguard exhibitors and visitors, MICAM Milano will adopt all additional preventive measures recommended by the health authorities,” he stated. 

Paris

Paris Fashion Week: February 24 – March 3.

PFW governing body, the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, currently in the middle of the accreditation process, is taking a pragmatic approach. When contacted by FN, it declined to comment officially, explaining that it was too early and also pointing out quite sensibly that the French Health Ministry had not issued a state of emergency. Privately, however, they are carefully monitoring the situation and ready to react if necessary.

Premier vision: February 11-13.

The biannual trade show for companies supplying materials and services to the global fashion industry told FN the exhibition would take place as planned but that they were closely following developments and prepared to apply any measures advised by the World Health Organization as well as the French Health Ministry. The current advice from the latter is in tune with barrier-method precautions against seasonal flu: mask-wearing and anti-bacterial hand washes. It also admitted that they were anticipating a drop in visitors from China — estimating a decrease of 1000-1200 participants out of 55,000 expected to attend. Out of their 111 Chinese exhibitors, 30 were unable to attend and the others were sending European representatives.

Europewide

YouTube

In addition to brands that livestream their own shows, video platform YouTube will stream shows from London, Milan and Paris. Over London Fashion Week, they will stream Vivienne Westwood, Victoria Beckham, Burberry and Tommy Hilfiger, who is presenting his fourth Tommy x Lewis collaboration with Lewis Hamilton on Feb. 16. From Milan Fashion Week, livestreams include Gucci, Prada, Armani and Versace, while over Paris Fashion Week they will stream shows such as Saint Laurent, Chloé, Paco Rabanne, Dior, Loewe, Balmain, Celine, Hermès, Balenciaga, Valentino, Givenchy, Stella McCartney, Chanel and Louis Vuitton.

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