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Chinese brands blocked from Milan Fashion Week due to coronavirus

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Italian fashion officials on Tuesday forecast a nearly two per cent drop in first-half revenues due to the new coronavirus outbreak emerging from China, which is also preventing three Chinese fashion houses from travelling to Milan Fashion Week later this month.

Chinese consumers are the biggest luxury spenders in the world, including in Italy, where they represent 35 per cent of big-ticket spenders, more than Russians, Arabs and Americans combined, according to a 2019 study by Global Blue, a tourism shopping tax refund company.

READ MORE: Flight to evacuate Canadians from Wuhan, China delayed as virus concerns swell

Their absence during the Lunar New Year travel period is being sorely felt in Milan’s MonteNapoleone District of luxury boutiques, where 48 brands have created capsule collections dedicated to the Year of the Rat in anticipation of the usual influx of Chinese tourists.

A drop in big-spending Chinese tourists, along with the negative impact on luxury sales in China, where Italian brands have a strong retail presence, is expected to decrease first-half revenues in the Italian luxury industry by nearly two per cent.

That will, in turn, put a drag on projections of three per cent revenue growth in 2020 over the 90 billion euros posted last year, according to Italian National Fashion Chamber president Carlo Capasa.

“Everyone hoped that we would grow this year, but instead we have this terrible setback,’’ Capasa said Tuesday. ‘’We hope that they find a solution and there is a relaunch.’’

Also due to the new coronavirus, the Chinese fashion houses Angela Chen, Ricostru and Hui had to cancel their runway turns during Milan Fashion Week, which runs from Feb. 18 to 24, while an estimated 1,000 Chinese journalists, buyers and other fashion industry insiders will also be absent.

The fashion chamber will express its solidarity with its partners in China with a digital event showcasing eight Chinese designers over video with runway shows, backstage peeks and interviews.

READ MORE: Canadians prepare for evacuation from China amid coronavirus concerns

The initiative, titled “China, we are with you,” will open with a runway show of a Chinese designer whose production is mostly in Europe and the United States and so is unaffected by the virus, Capasa said. The identity of the fashion house was being kept secret.

“We want to confront this emergency with a positive message, trying to keep ties very open with our Chinese partners,” Capasa said.

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