NEW DELHI — Lotus India Fashion Week has been postponed as the coronavirus made an appearance in India last week, with the number of people infected growing to 30 on Thursday. The number has risen quickly, up from six on Tuesday. Sunil Sethi, chairman of the Fashion Design Council of India, which coordinates the twice yearly event, said that all the permissions were in place and more than 80 exhibition stands were ready to be set up along with the runway shows, which were to be held at Jawaharlal Nehru stadium from March 11 to 15. “It was a tough decision,” he told WWD. “We did think about getting masks for every person who attended, and hand sanitizers everywhere — and if we had the facility to do the kind of screening that is done at the airport it would have been a different matter. In the end, it is a financial loss, but public safety comes first.
The board and I had to make that tough call.” Despite a sense of disappointment, designers supported the move. “We’re just ready with everything, since the fashion week is scheduled to open next week,” said designer Samant Chauhan, who was to show on the first day. “But buyers are concerned, and have been worrying about the travel, and what is the point of fashion week without buyers? It is best to be safe for them, as well as for us. This situation cannot be helped.” India joins a growing list of other international events that have been postponed or canceled for the same reason, including Tokyo Fashion Week, Seoul Fashion Week, Shanghai Fashion Week and Beijing Fashion Week — and it’s not just Asia. Ralph Lauren canceled his fall show planned for New York in April, while Gucci, Giorgio Armani and Versace all canceled or postponed their cruise 2021 shows planned in May.
In India, public functions are being put on hold, including those for the festival of colors, holi, which is next Tuesday, after an announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he would not attend any public festivities for the occasion. Many retailers and mall owners who have planned events and discounts around Women’s Day on March 8 are still considering how best to handle the situation. Having already faced a slower growth year, retailers had been hoping for higher consumer spending and sales growth this year.