Covid-19 has not only changed the way we shop, why we shop and what we shop but the entire fashion landscape. The impact of the pandemic will be felt for many years to come, both in a positive and negative context. We’re adjusting to life in a ‘new normal’, which will naturally affect the way we view the fashion industry and behave as consumers. But for those of us that work in the fashion industry, these changes will affect us in many ways.
THE IMPACT OF THE ‘RECESSION ECONOMY MINDSET
During the initial course of the outbreak, fashion spending took a slight backseat to household and living priorities. But with the introduction of furlough and the risk of unemployment for many, disposable income is a lot more precious and for some, non-existent. Enter the rise of ‘Recession Economy Mindset’. Consumers understand the impact the threat of unemployment has on their disposable income, therefore are more mindful of their spending habits. Companies need to be reactive to this customer mentality, as essentially in a world of ‘social distancing’, people have fewer places to show off their new fashion purchases and more reasons to only shop for necessities. The demand for luxury high-end goods could potentially take a nose-dive as people don’t want to splurge on those big designer pieces every season.
Within the marketing sector, professionals need to consider new ways of attracting customers to their products and pivoting their messaging to new audiences. Although it seems like a daunting prospect, marketing opportunities are a great avenue to showcase fresh proposals and innovative concepts, plus it’s a side to the industry that is ever-evolving and developing. Post Covid-19 will bring about new customer profiles, marketing ideas and exciting PR changes that will be fascinating and groundbreaking
Designers will have to take into consideration a new consumer mindset also when thinking about prices, fabrics and even aesthetics. Customers are going to be after practical pieces that will stand the test of time, especially in a penny-pinched environment. Graduate designers are in a great position to enter the industry with a whole host of new ideas that can incorporate the element of sustainability.
SUSTAINABILITY IS THE PRIORITY
This desire for a more sustainable lifestyle has been the catalyst in the emergence of rental apps. Platforms such as Hurr and By Rotation offer users the ability to rent and lend pieces in their wardrobes, continuing the chain of sustainable and conscious fashion. Over in Ireland, there are two platforms called Nuw and Shardrobes who allow users to share items to build up an infinite wardrobe. These sorts of services will no doubt rise as fashionistas look towards timeless sustainable styles. Embracing fashion without hurting the planet.
As the rise of eco-friendly start-up services continue, so too will the demand for professionals with a background in fashion-tech. From coding, UX design and app building, expertise in these areas will be invaluable in the new era of sustainable shopping.
E-COMMERCE IS KING
The long-term effects the Coronvirus will have on bricks-and-mortar stores are yet to be seen. 26% of consumers expect to shop less in physical stores and 65% of women have said they won’t feel comfortable using changing rooms. With people afraid to shop in stores and on high streets, companies will need to react accordingly and accelerate their digital growth in order to maintain their retail presence. Some brands have seen a triple-digit increase in their online sales with sites like Net-A-Porter and ASOS leading the way in terms of a successful e-commerce framework.
With everyone shopping digitally and companies more accessible at the touch of an app, it would be silly for brands to ignore investing more into their e-commerce models. Fashion professionals working in buying should look towards jobs at online brands and companies with a strong online presence. Bricks and mortar will never die out completely, yet demonstrating that you have the skill set to buy for both online and offline is a great way to future-proof your career.
Additionally, the impact of e-commerce doesn’t end with shopping online. Fashion houses are thinking up new and inventive ways to showcase their collections due to fashion weeks being called off for the foreseeable. The rise of digital fashion shows is something we’ll continue seeing, with the option to stream to all consumers, removing the elitism that surrounds fashion week. There have been calls for years for fashion houses to improve the way shows are run. Covid-19 has forced companies to review their processes, so it’s a great time for graduates to join the ranks. With a wealth of new knowledge and fresh innovative ideas, post-grads are gold dust to businesses in terms of bringing forth new concepts to showcase fashion collections; as well as being a new generation of designers with a conscious mind on the needs of today’s fashion consumer.
With e-commerce being so successful, social media is set to expand beyond its current possibilities. Careers in social, content and copywriting will grow tenfold as our digital world continues to increase. Content creating is a clever occupation to explore both during and post-pandemic since all our attention is on an online world, there is a larger demand for social posts, blogs and innovative ways to display trends. Developing a strong online account can be just the hobby that sets you apart from other applicants in the industry.
FAST FASHION GROWTH
Despite the fact that there is an uplift in sustainability desires and people are spending more time ‘shopping’ their own wardrobes, there is a consumer group that still favour fast-fashion brands. The demand for ‘instant updates’ means businesses like Boohoo.com and PrettyLittleThing.com can continue answering those needs. In these uncertain times, consumers are looking for little lifts with trend-led pieces at cheaper costs to still be in touch with a degree of normality. Despite there not being many places to ‘show’ off these looks, influencers are still at the forefront of many people’s inspiration. We have a lot more time on our hands to peruse Instagram. Trends led by fashion shows and designers may reduce the variety of pieces we see in collections, but fast-fashion retailers will always be able to supply any type of clothing at a cheaper rate, especially with customer’s reduction in disposable income.
THE END OF SEASONALITY?
Trends have always been led by the Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter seasons, which prompts companies to start trading their products earlier than the weather changes. For example, bikinis land in February and knitwear hits down in July/August. There will be massive amounts of SS20 stock sitting in warehouses during Covid-19’s lockdown period since shops haven’t been able to sell at their usual rate. Which leads to the question of whether fashion should be run on a more supply-and-demand template that correlates with the current seasons we’re in. Brands should start to implement a cross-season collection that will protect them against rapid shifts in demand. Buyers need to consider collections with more longevity in mind, which goes hand-in-hand with a more sustainable approach to clothes. Grads heading into the industry need to be thinking about how the way we wear clothing has changed rapidly during the pandemic. We’ve learned what makes us feel comfortable, long-lasting yet stylish and we’re looking for collections to reflect that.
Seasonality also contributes to over-consumption, going hand in hand with sustainable demands from consumers. The fashion industry and buyers especially need to tackle this problem by assessing ways to reduce stock loss. Taking into consideration a new consumer mindset of sustainability, it would be a good move for buyers to out-source extra stock to third party companies.
Nobody in the world, let alone the fashion industry could have predicted a global pandemic that has taken over every aspect of everyday life. The ‘normal’ will bring about uncertain but exciting changes to the industry, especially for us fashion professionals. Now, more than ever, is a great time to reassess how we do our jobs in a way that meets the new standards of the world.
Words by Rebecca Boffey