Will Covid-19 Transform the Fashion Industry Forever?
Updated: Nov 1
How has the fashion industry fared during coronavirus and lockdown? Find out in this latest chicandcultural post.
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Lockdown hit the fashion industry hard.
And throughout this period, consumer demand for clothing was low.
Essential items like food and toiletries took priority over clothing and understandably so. There is little point in buying new clothes if you're just going to be sitting inside your home (unless it is loungewear of course). Alas, instead of prepping our summer wardrobes for the holidays we ended up stuck indoors.
Adding further fuel to the fire, retail shops were closed throughout quarantine. The only way to buy was online. 80% of clothing sales rely on physical shops being open. From that, you can imagine just how lockdown has impacted the economic growth of fashion businesses.
Brands worldwide have found it difficult to adapt. Not only did retail come to a grinding halt, but so did manufacturing and operations.
Some brands fell right into the deep-end. Victoria's Secret, Oasis, Warehouse, and Laura Ashley all went into administration. Even though most UK fashion retailers reopened on June 15th, it’s unclear how long it’ll take for many of them to recover from the crisis.
However, this period of rest might be just what the fashion world needs. It gives them time to reflect.
After all, there is one glaring issue that the industry needs to deal with. Sustainability. Lockdown was the perfect time for industry experts to rethink their entire strategy and take steps towards reducing fashion’s carbon footprint. An overhaul of the entire fashion industry is long overdue.
When Gucci Get on With It.
Gucci has been one of the brands demonstrating a desire to change.
Back in May, Alessandro Michele revealed that the brand was going seasonless with their collections. This means they are no longer taking part in five different shows a year, narrowing this number down to two. (One in Autumn and one in Spring).
His decision was influenced by a desire for the brand to be less wasteful and the announcement was revealed on the official Gucci Instagram.
Between May 22nd and May 23rd, he shared his personal thoughts during lockdown with the world. He questioned his own role and responsibility within the industry:
“We understand we went way too far. Our reckless actions have burned the house we live in… So much outrageous greed made us lose the harmony and the care, the connection and the belonging.”
Gucci isn’t the only luxury fashion house that desires change.
A whole host of luxury designers including Dries van Noten, Joseph Altuzarra, and Tory Burch used the downtime to have an open dialogue with each other. They discussed how fashion brands can tackle the issue of sustainability and created a proposal based upon their conclusions.
You can read the proposal for yourself at forumletter.org.
In a nutshell, their main idea is to scale-down production. They want to use less fabric, less inventory, and create less waste.
To achieve this goal, they suggest that fashion brands put their energy into the main seasonal collections - spring/summer and autumn/winter. They can then focus on creating functional and stylish clothing that’ll fulfill consumer needs.
An interesting part of the proposal was the suggestion to have more digital showrooms which doesn't sound like a bad idea at all. This would be a great way to reduce fashion's carbon footprint. Brands can film from their studios whilst fashionistas can watch comfortably from home. It's a win win situation.
Surely digital shows would be the next logical step for the future of fashion. Right?
Luckily for us, this became a reality this year.
Between June 12th and June 14th, London Fashion Week held its first ever digital and gender neutral fashion week.
Unlike previous years, the shows were open to both industry professionals and the public. Fashion lovers could watch a variety of content from their favourite brands including podcasts, interviews, digital showrooms, and more. The perfect way to make fashion more accessible for everyone.
Most importantly, this event is proof that the fashion industry can adapt if it wants to.
If experts do want to see a more sustainable future for fashion, then making the most out of these technological advancements is a must.
Although, the real question is whether these brands will revert back to normal once the coronavirus has cleared. It is only a matter of time...
Right now, it's still unclear if any fashion shows will go ahead in September.
Caroline Rush is the chief executive of the British Fashion Council in charge of the yearly shows. This is what she had to say about the digital event.
We must make sure that more of the prominent brands - with all their power and influence - will hold themselves accountable and begin to put sustainability first.
Consumers also have more power than they believe. We can help by supporting companies that want to create change rather than hinder it. Be sure to research who you give your money to in the future. Lockdown gave us the time to think, but now we must act.
Click here for a great resource from the Guardian. It lists 10 eco-friendly fashion brands you can support today.
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