Fashion is one of those large industries that has been affected by two recent global convulsions – the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement. Most importantly, the effect has been two-folded – economic and value-based. Indeed, these two ‘phenomena’ have had their impact on reducing fashion consumption to a large extent and exposed the controversial side of the fashion industry, from both the environmental and societal values-based perspectives. However, has this made the giant of fashion crumble, and what is more, is the fashion industry currently in crisis? Let me investigate the topic relying on a few vast ‘less’ effects of a global pandemic.
Less emphasis on getting dressed
Fashion by itself is nothing if there is no ‘clue’ that holds it together – people who create, make, and wear it. It does not matter if it is haute-couture high-end fashion or mass-produced fast fashion, without hands and brains that make it real and bodies that give it purpose, the idea of a piece of apparel alone is meaningless. And most recent events have proven this undoubtedly. Once the COVID-19 virus had started accelerating with a higher and higher number of new cases, the need for clothes minimized to a new limit, never seen before, emphasizing the importance of external events to the industry – this even got a separate Wikipedia page!
Fashion by itself is nothing if there is no ‘clue’ that holds it together – people who create, make, and wear it.
When the lockdown became a real-life thing, the most comfortable clothing piece in one’s wardrobe became old sweatpants with a tiny hole in the pocket. These sweatpants became a uniform and one of the symbols of this historical moment. And even if these words have now just been said in a joking/ metaphorical manner, they do kind of make sense. First, people were – and in some places still are – not allowed to go anywhere, starting with one’s neighborhood block and extending to closed country borders. On the one hand, there is no reason for getting new clothes when you are sitting at home. Not going to work, having date-free nights with friends or celebrations – even funerals became VIP only, and weddings were postponed. Vacations abroad became impossible, but if possible – only for the bravest ones. But, a good thing, in this case, was that people stopped buying clothes because they do not need them.
When the lockdown became a real-life thing, the most comfortable clothing piece in one’s wardrobe became old sweatpants with a tiny hole in the pocket.
Less money to get dressed or dress the others
Moreover, people who would very likely stop shopping for clothes tested positive with the novel coronavirus.
The other reasoning behind the dropped sales is a much more undesired one. People got fired, fashion brands and retailers closed during the lockdown or even bankrupted. This whole package of issues has opened big wounds of unemployment and debts. In this scenario, the significance of clothes naturally drops to the lowest possible level, because even if you are naked, someone will give you something to cover up with, figuratively speaking. Moreover, people who would very likely stop shopping for clothes tested positive with the novel coronavirus. Today numbers hit over 17 million cases, adding up a couple hundreds of thousands of new cases almost every single day, and experts are saying the peak time is still not reached. Reportedly, only in May online sales in the USA dropped by 30-40 percent and the H&M group’s sales dropped by 57 percent during the period from March to May. Even if it seems that the number of cases is not that overwhelmingly huge to have a significant impact on various fashion brands and the industry as a whole, in the face of a crisis, every little input starts to matter much more to keep the economy circle running.
Less physical shops
The reason number whichever to decreasing fashion sales are about the fact that not being present and making direct bonds disables the nature of fashion itself.
Reason number whichever to decreasing fashion sales are about the fact that not being present and making direct bonds disables the nature of fashion itself. Fashion shows, which usually involve thousands of people, got canceled one after another, while according to BBC report, 80 percent of apparel retail was usually done in physical shops, and due to the COVID-19 related circumstances, this option was disabled. Of course, online shopping is not a new thing for most of us, and it does help businesses to exist; yet many shops either do not practice it or are at a very early stage of developing and adapting their own online retail culture. Furthermore, many people do not have such a habit of buying clothes almost blindly. Getting new clothes about touching the fabric, trying them on, and seeing yourself wearing them in the mirror. It is much harder to get invested only by looking at a flat glass screen and picturing it in your head. Maybe it will soon be much more accessible with virtual reality, but it will take some time to change people’s perception of it.
Less(ons) (to be) learned
On the average pace, the fashion industry has 30 – 40% of overproduction going to waste, not to think about full warehouses with stacked fashion pieces that are ‘getting expired’.
These points discussed above partially prove how much the fashion industry is dependent on our habit of buying new clothes. And such unforeseeable shocks as the global pandemic make the fashion industry very vulnerable. What lessons should be taken into account to make it for the fashion industry easier to adapt and overcome the ongoing and future crises that are luring to surprise the giant?
The reinvention of fashion began by moving the most important yearly events from spectators crowded podiums to online translated presentations. The amount of production must also be reconsidered and adapted to produce only on demand. According to Forbes, on the average pace fashion industry has 30 – 40% of overproduction going to waste, not to think about full warehouses with stacked fashion pieces that are ‘getting expired’. This article even implicates to change the mindset on the concept of seasonal fashion since designers more and more agree that ‘introducing a fixed number of collections each year according to a set schedule – makes less and less sense.’ Even photoshoots for fashion magazines or brand campaigns moved to FaceTime or Zoom platforms, including supermodel Bella Hadid shooting for Vogue Italia, or more and more fashion illustrators’ work replacing photos which usually take lots of resources, time and staff to be taken.
The giant of fashion does not seem to extinct – it still is a significant part of our society – however, it may reappear in different forms and faces, what is for the better.
It is a severe time in most points of view, but it is also an excellent time to make an effort for a hard restart, which was postponed for too long. The new trend of simplification and minimalism in a new form is emerging and, hopefully, this trend will not take only a few months, but stay here for good. The giant of fashion does not seem to extinct – it still is a significant part of our society – however, it may reappear in different forms and faces, what is for the better.