Will the coronavirus crisis lead to a slower fashion industry?
How Covid-19 is drawing attention to a sustainable fashion and how people are changing their mindset towards consuming fashion. Shifting to a more digital way of communicating between brands and consumers might become a long-term solution.
Last year, sustainability and slow fashion became more of a buzz word than ever before and brands were starting to shift to a more responsible attitude as consumers are realising the impact of what they buy on the people and the planet. Fast-forward to 2020 and Covid-19 is already defining what the whole year will look like as businesses had to put a hold on their production, bringing uncertainties towards how the fashion industry will continue to function during those difficult months. However, it’s also a time for the industry to reflect on its processes and come out of the crisis with a greener and slower future ahead. There are many ways in which the pandemic has spotlighted sustainability and how everyone can make steps towards slowing down the pace of fashion for a better tomorrow.
The first impact coronavirus has had on the fashion industry was through big events such as fashion week which gathers thousands of people from around the world in cities from Paris to Shanghai for two seasons a year. The environmental impact of travel during fashion week is equivalent to the annual emissions of a small country which has brought people to question its necessity already before the pandemic. Now that Men’s Fashion Week set to take place in June has been called off or rescheduled to September to align with the women’s shows, the future of fashion weeks remains unpredictable as lockdowns continue. It is however possible to reimagine the fashion shows into a digital realm, showcasing collections online through live and pre-recorded media, which would keep people from travelling across the globe for a few days.
Designers and executives are also recommending fewer, smaller and more season-less collections that could be delivered according to the weather. Balenciaga’s creative director Demna Gvasalia has argued that, even in September, another fashion week isn’t what the world will be needing and that designers will need to get creative in order to present their clothes to the public and connect with their audience. As a reaction, famed designer Giorgio Armani has penned a letter to WWD explaining how the crisis will yield to slower fashion and long-lasting designs which is at the core of his own brand. The designer has already shifted to a coed show in September and February while aligning his collections with the seasons and leaving them longer on the rails to avoid markdowns and deadstock fabrics that will end up to waste. He also stressed the customers’ need for well-made clothes that last instead of cheap trends directed to a single wear.
Another big step the fashion industry has to take is towards helping fast fashion slow down and implement an ethical code of conduct at every level of the supply chain. The closing of stores has accelerated this much-needed slowdown but has also led fast fashion brands to cancel their orders impacting negatively more than 50 million international garment workers from Bangladesh to Cambodia. Businesses were asked to maintain relationships with their suppliers and support them during these challenging times by postponing orders and look towards future action plans. Many retailers were already facing backlash as they left factories to hold onto goods they couldn’t sell. On the other hand, the ones that are taking care of their workers and are transparent about their processes will emerge the strongest from this crisis by gaining customers’ trust and approval.
Customers mindsets is also shifting as their shopping behaviours are fast changing during the lockdown. Many people are realising that they can live with way less material things and they value creating experiences and memories much more. So now is time for brands to cultivate authentic relationships to build customers engagement and brand loyalty by focusing on the concept of buying less but better. After the crisis, consumers will ask for products that align with their values and that are made with the environment in mind while also being able to buy into a brand story that has meaning. It is then time to connect brands to their customers at a higher level and build strong relationships that will carry on post virus.
Today consumers have shifted their focus to buying online but technology must be applied to more than just the product by also creating digital experiences and events with online interactions. They will want to support small independent brands and, in return, demand transparency about how clothes are made. As a quick and easy integration platform, wtalk fashion is offering all European premium and luxury fashion brands and designers to create personal contacts with their customers from a far. It is now more important than ever to get together as designers, stylists and magazines and become part of the movement to communicate better and keep contact with customers and the industry. Digital and video chats as well as showrooms offer the opportunity to contact customers and other partners directly on the platform and conduct a one-on-one dialogue across all Europe. The fashion industry needs to stay together and stay strong in face of the crisis by staying connected and building valuable digital relationships. #togetherweareeurope #wevalueeconomy #unlockthelockdown
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