The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted lives- personally and professionally all over the globe. The fashion industry is no exception to this. The entire world has come to a standstill and with fast fashion brands changing cycles on a weekly basis, stocks are being plummeted, stores closing, runway and fashion shows being cancelled.
So what comes next for the fashion industry? Should fashion brands skip an entire season? And if yes what could it possibly mean?
With almost the entire world being locked- down, it somewhat obviates the need for fashion to skip a season. A few industry experts were approached to get a deeper insight on this. Fares Ghattas, Global CEO of The Luxury Network International, says, “I believe fashion brands should skip a season but the problem is not all brands can afford that as this might cause the end of their business due to their fixed costs and the investments of the production of the collection as many have the prototypes ready for the upcoming season.”
Skipping a season is just the beginning, while bigger and more established brands can afford it, smaller and newer brands would end up struggling to keep up with expenses, overheads and not to mention an entire collection ready to hit the stores.
“Eventually, a pizza is more relevant today than a dress,” says Abhay Gupta, Founder & CEO of Luxury Connect and the author of ‘The Incredible Indian Luxury Bazaar.’ Talking about the implications, he further adds, “If fashion skips an entire season, a whole lot of stock correction will take place for retailers, brands and wholesalers. For customers, as individual people, they will use up a lot of otherwise overflowing wardrobes. They will perhaps end up saving some money. However, for brands who have already placed orders and stocks are ready with suppliers, if they cancel the orders, it will spell doom for the manufacturers. Many good brands have already committed to not do so and will stand by with their suppliers.”
The more important question now is what can brands do to adapt to this?
Fares says, “To not lose their business they should restructure, change their buying habits, minimize their costs and review their financials so their investments are not wasted in order to be ready once this pandemic is over. The fashion industry currently is shifting towards online sales and they realize that online could give them an opportunity to start selling again.”
Digitalisation has been a ray of hope for a lot of brands, but brands need to understand that they cannot wait for a pandemic to go online. Omnipresence is extremely crucial for brands now, regardless of a pandemic. Online is as important as is brick and mortar.
“During this time brands can prepare themselves about how to reuse the materials and textiles already acquired and make careful investment decisions,” Dr. Sheetal Jain, luxury industry expert, researcher and consultant and an internationally published author.
History is witness that the impact of any pandemic, let alone coronavirus has led to a change in lifestyle in a much broader sense and revolutionised the face of fashion in a more specific scenario. Up until now luxury and fashion was meant to be all about the lustre and bling but coming out of this pandemic would be a more conscious consumer and an even more conscious brand. Luxury would be more about expressing individuality rather than just owning things.
“This isn’t about just skipping a season anymore, post 2020 we will be seeing an entirely new and a different era,” says the founder and CEO of The Global Luxury Group, Karan Bhangay. “With survival being a top priority on people’s minds, brands will focus more on being more sustainable, more conscious of their cycles and climate change would be a top priority for all,” he further adds.
Even though brands are centuries old, the idea of luxury is constantly evolving, and so should the brand. Brands need to possess the right creative angle post this pandemic. “Slowly as this malaise passes, I see luxury take on a more subdued form. It may don a new avtaar of giving, sharing and isolating than belts shoes and luxury vacations in prime destinations,” says Nisha JamVwal, who is a celebrity columnist, luxury consultant, author, social activist and more.
Amidst all this, one this is for sure, and that is the underlying common concern for the planet. As was rightly said by Abhay Gupta, “Let’s preach for quality over quantity, slow fashion over fast fashion, natural over synthetic, environmentally friendly over environmentally polluting. We don’t need so many clothes & shoes!”