On vaccine mandates, the ball is back in the retailers’ court
- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late last week that the Biden administration cannot compel large employers to enforce a vaccination mandate
- Nike and other brands said they would lay off unvaccinated employees in company offices, but few demanded that store workers get vaccinated
- Some retailers, including Macy’s and Lululemon, have reduced store hours and taken other measures as rising infection rates have made it difficult to find enough staff
Last week, the United States Supreme Court struck down a Biden administration mandate that would have ordered large employers to require employees to be vaccinated or undergo regular testing. The fashion industry helped lead the charge against the mandate, arguing it would exacerbate a retail labor shortage that has only worsened as the requirement has gained traction. before the courts. Now the ball is in the retailers’ court: some have ordered office workers to get vaccinated or risk losing their jobs. Few have extended this requirement to stores.
The rapid spread of the Omicron variant further complicates matters, with some stores forced to close as many employees are sick or in quarantine. This almost certainly contributes to retailers’ reluctance to require store employees to be vaccinated. The high number of breakthrough cases among vaccinated people requiring injections would not necessarily prevent widespread illness in the office or mall. This would reduce the number of workers becoming seriously ill or dying.
The essential : From lockdowns to mask requirements to vaccination mandates, the pandemic has repeatedly forced brands and retailers to weigh the health of their businesses against the health of their employees. Often the fashion industry has chosen the first rather than the second. This doesn’t always have to be true; when retailers first opposed the mandate in November, some leaders said they would be more open to demanding vaccines after the holiday rush. They had their day in court and won. Will they now go ahead with warrants on their own or come up with new excuses?
A few farewells, a few beginnings
- Louis Vuitton will present Virgil Abloh’s latest collection for the brand on January 20 in Paris
- Milan Fashion Week continues through January 18, including Prada’s first menswear show with Raf Simons on Sunday
- Some brands, including Armani, have canceled shows because of Omicron, while others, including Balenciaga and Saint Laurent, are now bypassing men’s weeks in favor of mixed shows.
The latest variant of Covid has once again upended the fashion week calendar, with last minute cancellations and partly digital programming. However the calendar was ultimately set up, Virgil Abloh’s latest collection for Louis Vuitton was always going to be the highlight in Paris, following a lavish and moving tribute to the designer staged in Miami days after his death. Meanwhile, a handful of big names are missing, providing an opportunity for smaller labels who know how to use their moment in the spotlight. Among those to watch are GmbH, as well as Y/Project and Courreges, who put on co-ed shows outside of the busy February schedule.
The essential: The hybrid digital-physical men’s schedules, and the mostly in-person tailoring week that follows right after, serve as tests for February’s fashion weeks.
Robert Williams contributed to this article.
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