From tourism to education, the pandemic has affected all types of industries and fashion isn’t an exception. The outbreak escalated in the middle of the fall 2020 fashion month season, causing design houses and brands to shut their doors and postpone further runway shows. Important events such as the CFDA Awards and the Met Gala also got postponed recently after the COVID-19 outbreak. A man eats a bat and the whole world is at the verge of falling apart. Who could have thought, right? Let’s check out the major ways COVID-19 has impacted the fashion industry worldwide.
A drop in the conspicuous value of the fashion industry
The COVID-19 isn’t just taking hundreds of lives out there in Italy but also ripping off their $100 billion fashion industry. From the Instagram selfies in masks to the fashion magazines asking their employees to work from home, the fashion industry certainly changed a lot right after the outbreak of COVID-19. This crisis has made consumers look for the fashion that shows the traits of being hygienic, careful and easy-going.
High-end brands are suddenly not enough to attract fashion enthusiasts. People are willing to spend more on sustainable brands that reflect their own beliefs and values. Consumers are re-prioritising their fashion consumption techniques such that it is more responsible towards society and the environment. Buyers are now interested in the fashion assignments that deal with the question ‘who you are?’ rather than ‘what you wear?’
Disruptions in the fashion week
The COVID-19 caused several design houses such as Armani, Gucci, Dior, Chanel and Versace to cancel or postpone their international resort 2021 shows. The virus hit Italy in the middle of its Milan Fashion Week in late February. Thus, high-end designers had to rethink their show formats. This was also why Giorgio Armani conducted his Fall/Winter 2020/21 fashion show in an empty theatre in Italy.
Three significant shows got postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak such as the restaging of Chanel’s Metiers d’Art show, Burberry’s fall 2020 show and Ralph Lauren’s fall 2020 show. Disruptions in the fashion week caused significant declines in the stock market as well. The Dow Jones Industrial Average recorded 1,820.41 points from 21,365.21 on March 16, thereby pushing the fashion market into bear territory.
Cancellation of major fashion events
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention rolled down stringent guidelines on social distancing and preventing large group gatherings. Thus, a large number of events related to the fashion industry had to be cancelled to curb the COVID-19 from spreading further. Some of the most significant events that got cancelled are the Tribeca Film Festival, Beautycon, SXSW, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, the Boston Marathon, etc.
The men’s and haute couture fashion events in Paris were cancelled due to the pandemic. The Federation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode commented: “In light of the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic worldwide, strong decisions are required to ensure the safety and health of (fashion) houses, their employees and everyone working in our industry.” Versace postponed its US fashion show which was originally scheduled for May 16 due to a nationwide lockdown in Italy.
Disruption of supply chains
The postponing of fashion shows and events may have slowed down the industry considerably. But, the disruption of the supply chain is more of an immediate concern right now. Nearly 40% of what Americans wear come from China. Some apparel manufacturing factories are still closed in China due to the Chinese New Year break. Others are scared of inappropriate health procedures for their workers and are hence delaying the production of garments. This delay will have a ripple effect all over the production cycle of global fashion.
Xi Yang, an attorney at the international law firm Harris Bricken based in Seattle, said “If brands have not diversified their productions outside of China, then there isn’t much they can do to minimise the losses. Factories are closed now. They won’t resume production anytime soon. Even if they begin production again, it does not guarantee they will have enough manpower to complete orders placed, or they will make products that meet the buyer’s standard.”
A rise in online shopping
Governments have asked people to stay indoors as much as possible and to avoid large gatherings. The fear of COVID-19 infection has hit luxury shopping malls hard due to the lockdown in several countries. This could lead to a permanent change in the way people buy fashionable clothing, jewellery, bags, etc. More and more people may find it rather comfortable shopping online rather than visiting shopping malls physically.
Online shopping seems to be the most viable option as fashion and luxury stores across the world are closing down. Some of them are shutting down out of concerns for shoppers and employers while others are shutting down due to government order. This has led to a reduction in sales for most brands. Burberry, for instance, noticed its revenue go down by almost 40 to 50% after it closed down 40% of its global stores.
These are the five major impacts of coronavirus on the fashion industry all over the world. Though most of them are negative, you can make the most of online marketing strategies during these times to get things right for your business. This is the right time for you to digitise your brands and upgrade your systems and technology. Besides online marketing, the fashion industry can also take certain other measures to get back into the business again.
What can be done?
- Fashion enthusiasts are now more conscious of what they wear and whether it is safe for them and their loved ones. The fashion industry could try catering to consumer demands for supply chain standards, product traceability, product legitimacy and quality.
- Fashion brands can re-define their business models and come up with products that are more authentic and responsible. This is a great way to win over the trust of your potential customers amidst this crisis.
- The companies need to think deeper than just their loud logo strategies. They need to make the consumers believe that your products are safer than other brands in the same niche. From the production to the supply chain management system, make everything clear to your buyers to boost your business all over again.
Fashion is fickle. It changes with time and the COVID-19 disaster can cause a deviation in the fashion through the clothes people wear. This is when the fashion industry should identify the gaps and notice the deviation to figure out different ways to offer the right products to the right audience. The pandemic may bring major changes in your consumer’s mindset and affect their fashion buying decisions. So the fashion brands need to adapt accordingly and bounce back in the game again.