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Too Hot to Handle?: Record temperatures in Europe, US, and Asia present risks of climate breakdown

Record temperatures in Europe, the US and Asia this summer point to the real and present risks of climate breakdown. Fashion isn’t ready.

It’s been a record-breaking summer — and not in a good way. Last month was the hottest June ever and the first weeks of July have included the hottest days in history. Apocalyptic signs of climate breakdown — compounded this year by the El Niño weather phenomenon — are everywhere.

Temperatures in Europe, the US, and Asia hit unprecedented highs this month, with governments calling for people to remain indoors and stay hydrated. Tourist attractions shut down and hospitals grappled with a rise in heat-related illnesses. Out of control wildfires in Canada have sent dangerous smoke billowing across North America. Temperatures in China’s southeastern city of Hangzhou were so high they turned raindrops to steam. Heavy rain and devastating flooding have turned deadly in parts of Asia and the US. In Antarctica, sea ice levels have plunged to record lows. And forget taking a dip to cool off — in places like Miami and Greece water temperatures have breached 30C.

The waves of weather extremes have raised new fears about the rapid pace of climate change, with its fallout already being felt from fashion’s supply chain to retail floors…

The impact on business has been mixed. Though in-store sales in heat-afflicted markets in the US southwest and Europe dropped 6 to 7 percent in the week ending July 15, demand for hot weather categories like sandals, swimwear and shorts commonly jumped 10 to 25 percent, according to Planalytics, a company that measures the impact of weather on consumer behaviour. Businesses with an online footprint may have also been able to offset in-store declines, said Planalytics marketing vice president David Frieberg.

Read more on the Business of Fashion website here.