|As the Covid-19 cases rise, more and more sectors of the global economy fear that the crisis will inflict lasting damage on them. / Photo by Viacheslav Lopatin via Shutterstock|
As the Covid-19 cases rise, more and more sectors of the global economy fear that the crisis will inflict lasting damage on them. The fashion industry is one of those affected by the coronavirus. From design houses and brands shuttering their doors to postponing runway shows, the pandemic is changing how consumers spend their money, how they live, and how they dress, in ways that will be more apparent later.
Spending more, buying less
Management consulting company Boston Consulting Group’s sector leader for fashion and luxury Javier Seara said via global news platform Quartz that there has been a “re-basing of emotion” that people focused more on what they need and what they are doing. Since fashion is more discretionary to consumers than essential, it will be a moment of “rethinking” and “reckoning” for the industry. Before the pandemic, shoppers were used to purchasing large volumes of clothing at affordable prices. He predicts that there will be a shift in the way shoppers purchase clothes, especially in mature markets, like Europe and the US. Shoppers may potentially spend more per item but buy less. This means that they will purchase more clothing that lasts.
Fast fashion, which means cheap but trendy clothing, has been known to negatively impact people and the earth. The fashion industry emits 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions, an amount more than meriting shipping and international flights combined. However, 85% of all textiles are trashed every year and washing some types of fabric sends thousands of microplastic into the ocean.
Emphasis on seasonless wardrobe
Trend forecasting company WGSN’s fashion director Francesca Muston shares the same opinion as Seara. She foresees that more shoppers will be prioritizing quality, craftsmanship, and uniqueness in fashion. Clothing companies may also change their focus to different product types as they could be more profitable to the retailers. She emphasized clothes that hold their appeal in different seasons. It makes more sense for a clothing company to move forward post-pandemic if they consider a more season-less approach, she added. A seasonless fashion means ignoring the traditional fashion calendar. It is beneficial for designers as they can create pieces that work with their best-selling and existing styles and not come up with a new collection. Another benefit is it only creates less pressure on factories as they can maintain paced or consistent production.
The rise of minimalism
Minimalism in fashion will thrive, according to investment firm Bernstein. A minimalist fashion is defined by one major principle. That is, to keep it simple but powerful at the same time. It concentrates more on the fabric and form than the function of the clothing. Minimalist designers usually play with geometric shapes and lines in pinpointing the style. “The era of maximalism will draw to a close,” the firm added.
|E-commerce is also expected to grow after coronavirus. / Photo by William Potter via Shutterstock|
Online fashion sales will grow
E-commerce is also expected to grow after coronavirus. As there is a lockdown in many parts of the world, it spurs e-commerce and more consumers have gotten used to purchasing things online. Seara thinks that people will not be eager after the pandemic to go out and spend more time in stores. This is why it will be a challenge for fashion companies to also push sales through their channels instead of their retail partners. Take, for instance, the case of Nike, a manufacturer of footwear and apparel. Handling the operations on their own comes at a high cost but they were able to gain more control of their brand image. Consequently, it led to a higher margin on their sales.
The gap between weak and strong retailers will grow
Accounting and consulting firm BDO’s national leader of the retail and consumer products practice Natali Kotlyar likewise expects that there will be a further divide between the weak and strong retailers in the fashion market. The fashion industry is divided among those who are making profits and those who are not. Many unprofitable firms are fighting for modest earnings, including independent designers. Kotlyar said that small privately-owned firms may not have the cash to continue their operation for two months or longer as stores have been closed as measures have been implemented by the government to contain the virus. After the pandemic, a number of these unprofitable companies may go out of business.
On the other hand, larger firms, such as the multi-brand models, may just suffer a substantial decline but can survive. Database company Statista shares that one of the most recognizable and largest fashion brands in the world is Nike. In 2017, it held the largest (2.8%) market share among other clothing and apparel brands worldwide. It is followed by Adidas (1.8% market share), H&M (1.4%), Zara (1%), Uniqlo (0.7%), Levi’s (0.5%), C&A (0.4%), Under Armour (0.4%), Old Navy (0.4%), Primark (0.4%), Victoria’s Secret (0.3%), Ralph Lauren (0.3%), Puma (0.3%), Gap (0.3%), and Target (0.3%).
Supply chains will be reconfigured
When the pandemic temporarily stopped the industrial activity in China, fashion companies around the world were also affected as many raw materials come from China. After the pandemic, though, fashion companies will be reevaluating their supply chains to make sure that they will not be fully dependent on one country. The USA is one of the largest exporters of fashion-related products. The largest export products among textile and clothing in 2016 are raw cotton: $4.41 billion (19% share in the total exports of textiles and clothing), nonwoven textiles: $1.77 billion (8%), cotton yarn of over 85 percent: $1.13 billion (5%), artificial filament tow: $1.04 billion (4.5%), and synthetic fila ent yarn: $1.03 billion (4.5%). This is according to fashion world business platform FashionUnited.
The country is also among the largest importers of fashion-related products worldwide. In the same period, it imported sweaters, pullovers, sweatshirts worth US$ 14.1 billion dollars (13% share in the total imports of clothing), women’s suits, not knit: $9.37 billion (9%), men’s suit, not knit: $8.2 billion (8%), women’s suits: $5.63 billion (5%), and T-shirts: $5.2 billion (5%).
Although it is not clear what the new supply chain will look like post-pandemic, there is a possibility that it will involve a combination of low-cost countries and nearshoring production plus investing in automation and more advanced manufacturing.
All of these predictions may not happen, considering the uncertainty that the pandemic brings. However, the change will be inevitable not just in the fashion industry but in other sectors too.