After a period of uncertainty, luxury, like many sectors, will probably be forever changed by the coronavirus crisis. But it is hard to imagine the magnitude of this change. At the first major online conference in the midst of the pandemic organised by the Financial Times, David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-executive chairman of the US private equity fund Carlyle Group, said: “We haven’t seen anything this bad since the Great Depression. The economy will recover, but it will be a different economy. »
Could the current crisis act as an accelerator and trigger the advent of a new, more responsible and committed economy, including in the luxury sector? This seems to be the case if we take the measure of the unprecedented commitment and mobilization, at the beginning of the crisis, of the entire sector to fight the epidemic. LVMH was the first to react, 72 hours after the start of containment in mid-March. Its action was rapid and multiple: the Group monopolized three of its French perfume and cosmetics production sites (Christian Dior, Guerlain and Givenchy) to produce hydroalcoholic gel, which was distributed free of charge to many French hospitals. For its part, L’Oréal announced new investments with a positive societal and environmental impact. The cosmetics company will devote 150 million euros to two global issues: climate emergency and women’s vulnerability.
An appointment not to be missed
It is important that the fashion industry, like the luxury industry – which are intertwined and respond to each other – do not miss this appointment because it is unprecedented. Faced with an exceptional situation, they must provide answers and solutions accordingly. In the words of some world marketing directors: “Luxury must mobilize and reinvent itself in the way it acts and commits itself”. One alcohol brand has redirected a significant part of its marketing budget to help its most affected partners, as well as the populations, particularly in certain countries where it has a strong presence, such as South Africa and Nigeria.
Today, companies are facing a twofold difficulty: the current circumstances are weighing down their business and they will be faced with a certain mistrust from consumers, who are increasingly aware of their over-consumption. The health, economic and financial crisis will probably be compounded by a cultural, philosophical and political crisis. Even more than our values, it is our world as we have been living it for decades that is being called into question, at least in Europe and probably in the United States.
Fashion, a sector that weighs heavily on the environment