Omicron Halts Fashion Companies’ Return-to-Office Plans – WWD

Don’t expect to see people walking into their full-time offices yet.

Due to the rampant diffusion of the Omicron variant, several fashion companies are taking a wait-and-see attitude and delaying the return of their employees to the office.

In total, about 1.1 million new coronavirus cases were reported on Monday, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, as the highly contagious variant of Omicron continues to spread in the United States. The Omicron variant was the cause of 95.4 percent of new COVID-19 cases in the United States last week, according to estimates released Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“If the pandemic has taught us whatever, is that we have to be flexible and quickly adapt to the changes it brings. We will continue to evaluate our plans as new information becomes available in the coming weeks and will share any necessary updates as we approach the week of January 18, when our gradual and planned return to the office is expected to begin. ” a spokesperson for PVH Corp. said.

A spokesperson for Tapestry Inc. said, “Out of an abundance of caution, prioritizing the health and safety of our staff, we have just moved the official return date to the New York / New Jersey office to February 1 from January 10. While our offices have been and will continue to be open with strengthened security measures in place should employees decide to enter, our hybrid business model will go into effect on February 1st. “

The fashion industry isn’t alone in delaying returning to the office. Banks like Goldman Sachs, Citi, and JP Morgan have delayed their return and are allowing employees to work remotely for the first weeks of 2022, as are many major tech companies, including Apple and Google.

Shoshanna Gruss, founder and creative director of Shoshanna, said: “If there is one thing that the last 22 months have taught us it is that we have to be adaptable; what we are doing today may have to be changed tomorrow.

“We are currently following the CDC and New York City Small Business Guidelines for any in-person work. Our entire team is set up to work remotely and come to the office as needed. We are fortunate to have finished our last market just before Omicron’s release in early December. Being a small team allows us the flexibility to make some of the bigger decisions closer to the dates. We will revisit our plans for February market appointments and trade fair trips at the end of the month. “

Jane Siskin, founder and CEO of Cinq In September, he said the company was taking precautions: “We expect 2022 to be a great year for Five in September As COVID-19 cases are increasing in New York, we are taking precautions to create a safe working environment for our employees. In January we are expanding our two-story offices to ensure social distancing as our team continues to expand. The new office will feature two showrooms and a photo studio. We understand the importance of creating content for the web and social media and make it a priority. “

Siskin said they hope to continue hosting appointments with retailers in their showroom for the fall 2022 season. “Over the past two months, Major stores had returned to market appointments in person and specialty stores were traveling to New York for major collections, but not pre-seasons / smaller deliveries. Our business in the Dallas and Los Angeles markets has been stronger than ever – it’s a great opportunity to meet specialty stores that don’t come to New York every season.

Siskin noted that the company has planned many in-person events for the first quarter with major retailers. “We will do a decision [this month] whether these events were to go on in person or virtual. We love visiting stores because it’s time to connect with our customers and store employees and hear their feedback. “

A spokesperson for Ungaro and its designer Kobi Halperin (who also has a separate namesake brand) said: “We are back in the office, but with the option to work from home. Most of us have physically returned to the office ”. He said the market is still scheduled to open as expected on February 8th.

He noted that the design teams of Ungaro and Kobi Halperin still have plans to travel to Première Vision in Paris from February 8-10, and that they will show Ungaro during Paris Fashion Week in March. During the same period they will also show the Kobi Halperin brand for European customers.

“Of course, everything is subject to change in case things change around the world,” he said.

Susan Sokol, co-founder of High Alchemy, a New York-based showroom representing 30 brands from luxury to advanced contemporary, said their employees have been back in the office since June 2020, when the city opened “and not if they never left. “

As they have so many samples in the showroom, they felt it was important to come back in person. At first, 99 percent of their dates were virtual, but by September 2021, 50 percent were in person, which was very encouraging, Sokol said. However, in last December’s market, 90 percent was virtual, which Sokol attributed to the holiday season when smaller specialty store retailers are understaffed and want to be on the sales floor.

She now feels that New York Fashion Week should be postponed by a week, which would impact all global fashion weeks. With many believing the next two weeks could be the peak of the virus in the United States (until January 20), he believes things will get worse, based on what health officials from the CDC and Biden administration are saying, “and then things will diminish ”.

While he believes New York Fashion Week may pose a problem, he believes Coterie, which is very late this year (February 27 to March 1) is good, and that smaller specialty stores will feel more confident coming to New York. He said his company, which would normally travel to Europe in late February, will not go this year. “Right now for us as a showroom we feel more comfortable traveling around the US and doing log shows and visiting stores,” Sokol said, noting that their business in 2021 is back where it was in 2019.

Meanwhile, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, in partnership with IMG, is closely monitoring the current wave of COVID-19 and is working with local and state officials to ensure the health and safety of all people participating in the New York Fashion Week.

“We understand the impact of the Omicron variant on logistics, staffing and planning up to the week and will support each brand’s individual decision in relation to their February shows,” said the CFDA, in a letter they are sending Wednesday to its Subscriber at fashion calendar.

For those planning to hold in-person shows and presentations during February, the CFDA recommends following IMG’s COVID-19 health and safety plans, established last September. It will require all persons entering a show venue to provide evidence of COVID-19 vaccinations consistent with state and federal law, request the use of the mask indoors at all times, except in designated areas for eating and drinking, or for models walking on the catwalk and recommends guests with reduced capacity in the exhibition spaces with adequate spaces. Furthermore, IMG added that its updated vaccination policy will mandate a COVID-19 booster vaccine for all who are eligible. Those who are not eligible as of February 12, 2022 will be able to continue entering with the verification of their vaccination status.

Spring Studios is the home of NYFW: The Shows.
Courtesy of NYFW: The Shows

Leslie Russo, president of IMG’s Fashion Events and Properties, added: “As we navigate Fashion Week for the fourth time since the start of the pandemic, we are adapting our plans in real time to ensure the health and safety of our community. , while continuing to protect the industry’s ability to move forward with our collective business. IMG has set the precedent for a safe return to New York Fashion Week without incident and will continue to work closely with the CFDA and our city and state leadership to guide designers, guests, consumers and the countless workers NYFW employs. , through our most important six-monthly meeting in safety “.

The CFDA has said it will continue to support the American fashion community as brands decide which approach is best for their business. Runway 360 continues to be the virtual headquarters of New York Fashion Week as it has been throughout the pandemic. “As we continue to navigate the fluid nature of the pandemic, we will update the above should the situation change in the coming weeks,” the CFDA said.

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