Why the fashion industry must recalibrate
9 Apr 2020
It took less than one hundred days to upend the fashion industry, its glamorous facades crumbled into a pile of obsolescence. For a moment, the world stopped consuming, and the aspiration economy of luxury, travel, leisure and the acquisition of beautiful things, no longer mattered. Conspicuous consumption and the luxury add-ons of the aspirational billionaire lifestyle are no longer aspirational.
When you’re locked indoors, spending your days on Zoom, having the latest designer dress is no longer capital investment. A comfortable apartment, beautiful furnishings and access to doctors, coronavirus tests and N95 face masks take precedence.
A pandemic can grind the world to a halt, putting economies at risk. When it comes to fashion, an industry that employs over 300 million people across the value chain and is a crucial GDP contributor for most countries, producing and exporting high-end goods has all but collapsed. How will this end?
Some are saying a better world will come out of this hardship. Certainly how we measure success will change. Economically, infrastructure and robust healthcare will be as important as GDP. In fashion, brands that speak to communities and demonstrate social awareness will triumph over those peddling mindless product.
It takes a crisis to change, a pandemic to recalibrate
As the Covid-19 impact on fashion and luxury is thought to be ‘worse than during recession’ with revenue expected to fall between 25 and 35 percent according to the Boston Consulting Group, the industry is being transformed before our very eyes. It takes a crisis to bring change, but a pandemic to recalibrate the fundamentals: a slower pace, fewer seasonal collections, less discounting, in-season clothes to match the needs of the consumer.
The Sociology of Business blog says: “Even if consumers are not spending at the moment, they still seek acknowledgment, inspiration, advice, guidance, education and entertainment from brands. Brands can capitalize on restraint as the new aspiration by putting forward social values of generosity, compassion, and gratitude, and acting on them through their content, communication, and brand behaviors. There are car companies encouraging drivers to stay off the road, and travel companies encouraging people not to travel.”
Fashion brands and retailers should inspire shoppers to buy better and buy less.
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To find out more about the impacts of Covid-19 linked to the fashion sector, visit our dedicated page.
Photo credit: Kontoor Brands