April 12, 2021News
The pandemic has hit hard all different parts of our world and society, some industries like restaurants and tourism suffering more than others. Companies having crises that some have been brought down by completely, others have had to survive and adapt. Then there have been other sectors, tech trends and perks, like education, e-commerce and social that have been blooming ever since. The impact on the fashion industry is a big one and it goes in both ways. Having a huge hold on the global economy and being a large job provider, it is interesting to explore the different sides to it that are being forced to step up, considering the nearly global inaccessibility to boutique shopping. Here we will be exploring the effects the pandemic had on the industry and those inter-connected with it.
It is obvious that with all the preoccupations that have arisen amongst the clients, buying new goods and following the latest trends has moved way down on the list of priorities, after health, work and basic survival for many. The response to the pandemic as measures of inclosure amongst the world have gotten many to stop with their lives and rethink their consumer habits, leading many to start buying only the necessary or highly desired. This decline in shopping has put the brands in the position to have to rethink their selling strategies, stock and collections organisation, and do it fast. Amongst the problems of the build up of unsold stock, the brands had to react to sudden and only-will-get-worse financial crises. Considering there will be a declining demand for products, brands had to cancel orders of huge quantities, leaving the retailers who have already paid for the materials and in many cases had the products already made, empty handed. Thousands of Bangladesh factories have closed, leaving 1.2 million of workers without a last full salary. 2020 events have sparked many movements to protect the works and the impact by the industry, local artisan groups and farmers, working to collectively put pressure on the brands to somewhat compensate their losses.
Many luxury brands have been making larger donations to various charities and organisations, towards building hospitals and medical research, or provision of sanitary resources. This pandemic has split us physically, but has been inspiring and emphasizing the need to come together to have a proactive effect like never before. The industry’s profits have fallen 90% and are expected to suffer until the pandemic is not more under control, or the industry adapts and reforms for a new way of functionality. The closure of shops started to happen even before Covid-19 restrictions were put into place, many stores were looking to avoid the spread and took the measures into their own hands. As this industry is extremely reliant on people coming to the store, with 80% of transactions happening in real life. Although e-commerce has become widely popular since the lockdowns, it has not risen to the level to replace the shopping rates before, due to many reasons.
To deal with the problems head on, brands throughout the industry will have to adapt their online presence and technologies to a highly appealing level, offer the clients and experience to enjoy, besides the product. Being a highly saturated market already, the collaboration between the fashion and tech industry have been mutually propelling each other forward. While the tech field is the future in any case, the fashion industry might only have a future with the right implementation of tools that are available. As all social events have been crossed off our calendars, the fashion weeks although already not attainable to some, have actually chosen to transfer to online, virtual shows. Many brands have been using Virtual Reality to provide an unforgettable, not less than in real life experience. Although not highly accessible to all, this really goes to show how much is in store for us besides a long fill-up your cart process. Brands are being forced to look into how to get the best results, as there will never be a complete going back to how it was before with boutique shopping. With the excess stock and unsold stock, the need to interpret and serve the clients’ changing needs and desires if being highlighted, meaning that less is truly becoming more. It can be observed that throughout 2019, there have been sales up to 75% to lure in the customers, showing how much need there was for brands to efficiently make their way forward.
Fast-fashion has been detrimental to the planet as has become a weight on the brands since the pandemic. Trying to come out with a new fancy product and catch the clients eye has become much harder with everything moving online. The question of sustainability has been moved to our attention not as a proposition, but as a desperate demand, both from the clients and the workers, but now for the brands too. High fashion has been leading to the unsold stock, so to survive brands will have to focus their attention more on the combination of the right product with the right targeting, through an extensive use of AI. New does not scream value anymore, and being at home with not much to do and a lot of time to scroll through the offers, we are less coming across individuality. AI is giving the brands a chance to really get to know the needs of customers, thanks to the huge data, and to serve those needs on a long-term efficient basis, quality and ethicality of products is becoming the new hot seller. Although the industry has seen its downfall, it is only a call for a revolution and upgrade of approach. This pandemic has given a chance and the right push for innovation, despite the crises. What is most important, is that attention has been driven to the right areas, those that can now be developed and evolved thanks to community pressure and reform of desire, the raise of awareness and fall of attention towards the ‘new and shiny’. Behind the crises that happened so far, there was a due need for change of unstable, unsustainable systems. With their crash at a huge cost to many and in many ways, the fashion industry is at the doors of massive change, that will be beneficial for all parties involved.
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