Coronavirus and the Force of a Fashion Revolution
Before borders were closed and communities around the world told to isolate and quarantine the fashion industry was under intense scrutiny over its contribution to numerous environmental and humanitarian concerns.
With the fashion industry long overdue for a shakedown the Coronavirus pandemic has shaken the foundations of many fashion leaders. This forced pandemic shakedown has accelerated the attention and action that needs to be taken to improve upon environmental and humanitarian concerns.
The industry post-pandemic will not look the same for all players in the value chain as it did going into the Covid19 crisis. Whilst most of the world is still in lockdown individuals through to big business are being faced with making do amid concerns about their livelihoods and the economy.
As a fashion industry and creative consultant practitioner and business owner in this space, I have worked with all players along the fashion value chain and see indications towards post-pandemic trends that will be born out of this time.
Consumer Lead Counter Couture Culture
The everyday consumer who has been affected by the loss of work and finances and therefore discretionary income to spend on clothing during this time will be considering what they already have to make do. As seen the 60s and 70s against the backdrop of the Vietnam war and long-standing stuffy political and societal standards, consumers will seek to express themselves within their means. Cue the rise of the handmade and repurpose movement once again from the consumer at home to big brands as well.
Expect to see well-known fashion designers creatively repurposing inventory that they have struggled to offload as a stop-gap to potential insolvency to buoy their cashflow. Both on the home and business front customisation culture I believe will be on the rise. I expect this to pave the way for a further increase in the interest of street fashion and progressive self-expression in personal style, as consumers will be keen to share their unique and one of kind threads that they have repurposed or ordered in a make-do and get by climate.
Intimate Consumer Experiences
From bricks and mortar and online sales brands will need to pivot and deliver on a more connected and personalised experience for consumers. Fashion brands that struggle to regain pre-Covid19 traction will need to provide unique customer service experiences to win financially tight consumers back who will be more discerning as to where they will be valuable staff for brands to retain.
Post-pandemic we should expect brands to strengthen their online shopping and community experiences with sales assistance who are savvy online social communicators live streaming and bringing a live experience to a digital transaction.
Brands Getting Deep and Meaningful
In the post-pandemic landscape expect to see brands doubling down on community culture.
Simply brand loyalty is everything in a shaky post-pandemic climate customer retention and the promise of long-term profitability and market share is king.
Diversified Supply Chains
It can't be avoided with global health, humanitarian, import and export restrictions in place. Small to big brands will be forced to diversify their supply chains beyond the global frontrunners in production pre-Covid19. Whilst on a humanitarian level it raises concerns for third world nations reliant on massive production and manufacturing contracts, there will be if not anything else a boost to local sourcing and manufacturing that will boost local production and manufacturing in communities all around the world.
As stated in the Business of Fashion "The State of Fashion 2020 Coronvirus Update".
"While the extent of the damage remains unclear, 2020 is already shaping up to the "worst year in the history of luxury".
The above was quoted by Luca Solca, an investment research analyst at Bernstein. It is of no surprise that Gucci will now only be showing twice a year with the financial hit designer brands have taken in this pandemic climate.
Whilst Alessandro Michele has been quoted as saying, "I want to put things in the collections when I want to", which is certainly an intention of returning to art and expression away from the constant consumer demand, it would be foolhardy to think financial concerns aren't weighing heavy on stakeholders as well.
From the luxury designer frontrunners who are adapting to the new fashion eco-system, I expect we will see brands redefining what luxury looks like. I'd like to suggest there will be a greater focus on brands returning to their historical core elements, qualities, silhouettes that have stood the test of time. There will be a greater focus on brands historical aesthetics to pull at the core emotions and memories of consumers in a bid to hold on to consumer loyalty. There is no denying that the world of luxury has always been entrenched in the stories and histories of royalty and the elite.
On the home front for the everyday consumer struggling financially, there will a change in their ideals of luxury and what it means to them. One only has to search Instagram for the rise of the eco-stylist who are redefining what luxury looks like on the thrift.
There are so many other facets of the fashion eco-system that are chronically affected by the crisis, there are far too many to cover here and now. However overall I am excited for the future of fashion and how it will change and innovate to be more conscious and concerned of its impact to our planet, its people and how we connect to self and community through what we wear to express ourselves.