Before I start, I would like to send all my best wishes to friends and colleagues around the world who are facing challenges the likes of which many of us have never known before. I’m writing this from my apartment in Rome, where my family and I are doing our best to adjust to this new reality, and finding the positives in being able to spend more time with each other.
As the Covid-19 pandemic has spread and wreaked wider devastation on the world at large and our industry itself, it has been heartening to see the swell of community and support which has emerged from a time of trial. How we react, as people and businesses, while under pressure is a true test of both our character as people and our ethics as businesses and brands.
Times of trial remove the barriers which we construct between ourselves as we all must do not just something, but everything we can to ensure the safety of ourselves and – just as importantly – those around us.
When Paris’ iconic Notre Dame cathedral burned, the owners of Gucci, YSL, Louis Vuitton and L’Oréal pledged millions towards the repair. They were in a position to return hope to those devastated by the fire and they did so.
Now, with the world facing a crisis more widespread than anything since the Second World War, it has been excellent to see the powerhouse companies come into their own and turn their business and infrastructure to the cause of helping protect people from Coronavirus. LVMH was among the first to announce it would switch production lines to create the ingredients needed for hand sanitiser, as global supplies ran short.
Estée Lauder and L’Oréal have also both begun producing hand sanitiser and top spirits brands are shipping the ethanol created in their production factories to those who can use it for a good cause.
Last month, Giorgio Armani donated €1.25 million to Italian hospitals and organisations helping battle the pandemic in Italy. In this he joins Moncler, which has pledged €10 million to help build hospitals in and around Milan.
At a time like this, actions speak far louder than words and it is during such times that luxury brands must be willing to stand up and be counted. These are world-recognised names and our industry has the funding and platform to lead by example.
Such actions demonstrate the luxury market is not removed from and above the world we work in. Our sector of the market has been hit hard and will continue to feel the effects of this current crisis, with estimations suggesting it could cost the fashion and luxury market $600 billion in sales. But that is the same reality facing everyone. The numbers differ according to the size of your business, but the key thing is that everyone pulls together now and as we one day look to rebuild our market.
Luxury brands are aspirational, they are not unattainable. We are market leaders and create an image and lifestyle which consumers seek out.
But at times like this, the true mark of a luxury brand, is one which is fighting alongside our shoppers, colleagues and competitors. These are people and brands which we need every day and we must work as one to ensure that there is a future, not just for ourselves, but for all of us.