• Home
  • News
  • Fashion
  • Tokyo Fashion Week canceled due to virus outbreak

Tokyo Fashion Week canceled due to virus outbreak

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


Scroll down to read more


A growing list of global events are being canceled due to the coronavirus. The latest victim is Tokyo’s Rakuten Fashion Week, which was to take place from 16 to 21 March.

Already travel, corporate, religious and now fashion events are being canceled, which for many means disruption to both their professional and social calendars.

Global fashion weeks on hold

Fashion weeks in Beijing and Shanghai were the first to be postponed. Both were due to take place at the end of March. There was a conspicuous absence of Chinese brands and buyers in Milan and Paris, with an estimated 1,000 store buyers thought to have stayed at home. In Milan Giorgio Armani canceled his live show, opting for a catwalk without an audience.

Safety is priority

In a statement on its website, Rakuten Fashion Week organisers said: “As apprehensions due to the Corona Virus (COVID-19) outbreak rise daily, our primary and utmost concern always being the safety/security of all parties involved. After heavy discussions with related parties, we have come to the painful decision of there being no other choice than to give up RakutenFWT 2020 A/W.

Seoul Fashion Week, due to take place 17-21 March, has also been canceled. The largest fashion event in Korea has been put on hold as brands and show goers were wary to attend. An official of the Seoul Metropolitan Government said one third of the 36 participants scheduled to take part in Seoul Fashion Week said they intended not to participate due to the coronavirus. 12 people have died from the virus in South Korea, with a further known 1261 infections.

In Japan 241 infections have been reported, including five deaths. This is excluding the hundreds of infected travelers confirmed on a docked cruise ship last month. Japan is hoping its precautionary measures will allow the Olympic Games to proceed this year, an event which has so far cost nearly 30 billion dollars.

The outbreak has thus far disrupted the supply chains for mostly the mid-market apparel, which sees over one-third of the world’s brands being manufactured in China. Concerns remain for Chinese factories being able to deliver the AW20 collections, as workplaces remain closed.

No masks in China

One Chinese factory, who requested not to be named, was unable to locally buy masks for its staff. It instead enlisted a Tokyo-based colleague to courier 2000 masks from Japan.

Chinese consumers accounted for nearly 40 per cent of the 281 billion euros spent on global luxury goods in 2019

In Japan, Chinese shoppers have kept the tills ringing in what has already been a tough retail climate. According to Bloomberg, Japan’s consumer goods firms have been expanding overseas, “with China a bright spot in that expansion. China is not only home to new, growing markets for stores, but also provides a steady stream of tourists visiting Japan and boosting domestic sales.”

Japanese fast fashion retailer Uniqlo operates 750 stores in China, and this week reopened more than 100 stores. A further 125 stores remain closed.

Photo: Acuod by Chanu AW19, Catwalkpictures

Paris Fashion Week
Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo