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The predictions about how coronavirus impacts the fashion industry have been contradictory in so many ways.
While we will remember 2019 for many things, from the rise of TikTok to the final season of Game of Thrones, from Australia bushfire to Brexit, 2020 has surprised us beyond imaginations. And not in a good way.
In the fashion industry, last year has been marked by one major change:
“Sustainability as a trend died. Sustainability as a commitment stayed.”
Finally, we’ve seen the world’s largest clothing manufacturers actively transforming their supply chains and making other policies to become eco-friendly.
All of this, thanks to the pressure of ethically-minded consumers.
However, recent affairs, and by that, I mean Coronavirus pandemic, have put us in an oblivion state about the future.
For that, in this article, we have a closer look at how coronavirus will impact the fashion industry in 2020 and the years to come.
2020 Has Been Nothing Like 2019
With the global pandemic of COVID-19 keeping a firm grip on the global clothing production, the concern about sustainability initiatives is real.
Some industry experts claim that with online clothing sales falling by 50 per cent, brands will take a significant hit.
Many others, on the other hand, say the industry will emerge more robust than ever.
They believe the industry needs to focus on helping the communities to navigate the pandemic.
Let’s take a look at the events around the industry and try to predict whether 2020 will be a good year for sustainable fashion.
The Status of the Sustainable Fashion Industry
There’s been a lot of developments in the industry over the past months.
Here are some of the most important ones.
Naturally, all events were either cancelled or postponed until further notice.
The organisers of the largest sustainability event, the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, have recently confirmed that the event has been rescheduled for October.
Similarly, Sustainable Fashion Week (SFW), the first such event in the UK, was also postponed until the fall.
“We don’t care about the next season trends,” the organisers wrote in a statement.
“Our focus… will be on up-skilling, inspiring, and informing the community.“
Many brands in the industry stepped up by offering support, donating money, and changing manufacturing processes to produce face masks.
Collina Strada, for example, has recently announced making masks for healthcare professionals in hard-hit New York.
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#LIVEYOURLOOK RIGHT NOW WITH COLLINA STRADA + MILK MAKEUP Photography: Chad Moore Model: Sasha Melnychuk using Milk Makeup (Chads roommate) Story: Emily Gaynor “Live Your Look” is not just about how you create your look; it’s what you do in it that matters. At Milk Makeup, they’re launching a series to show how #LiveYourLook looks right now in our new reality. We’re partnering with @milkmakeup to make 1,000 masks for The Center, an LGBTQ+ community and programming space in downtown NYC. They’ve been closely collaborating with The Center for over 3 years, and the beautiful vital space has unfortunately had to temporarily close due to COVID-19. These masks will go to the people The Center serves. Creativity often thrives in periods of adversity, fueling new, dynamic ways of thinking. Because masks have suddenly become part of everyday life, self-expression will inevitably look different than it did before. Hillary’s friends: models Sara Hiromi and Sasha Melnychuk and photographer Chad Moore shot this story in their quarantine orbit. Together at the apartment Sasha and Chad share, the three of them took some time to seek beauty and make art out of their current circumstances, while social distancing of course. Masks still leave room for making a statement, closed spaces challenge new ways of creating, and friendship networks are more crucial than ever. See how Hillary, Sara, Sasha, and Chad are using their time to build up and give back. Wear masks, stay safe, and let’s move forward as a community together. Show us how you #LiveYourLook right now. Try with our new filter in stories now!
The brand also encourages people to donate materials to contribute to the fight against the virus.
Burberry, which is another excellent example, began manufacturing masks, hospital gowns, and even funding vaccine research.
Changing Business Models
Even though the demand for sustainable fashion products has been steadily growing, many brands have to make adjustments to their business models.
The shifting to sustainable production depends, of course, by the need to defend the capital.
Equally, it depends on the relationships with suppliers, employees, and the management of existing orders.
Nevertheless, we should see many fundamental changes in how brands procure, manufacture and sell fashion.
For example, selling online is likely to become a priority.
Also, many brands might re-evaluate their dependence on distant suppliers and focus more on local supply chains.
Promo wise, producing more content on blogs to connect with more customers online will become increasingly important.
Step by step, brands will embark on ethical and sustainable stories and research that resonate with conscious consumers of fashion.
The Roadmap to Rebuild the Industry
However, not all sustainable brands will be able to implement their projects this year.
There’s a clear need for extensive planning on how to become sustainable, despite the past business strings placed on them.
These concerns were heard, and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) has just released their report:
“Weaving a Better Future: Rebuilding a More Sustainable Fashion Industry After COVID-19.”
In the report, SAC explains how sustainability projects in fashion are at risk.
SAC recommends detailed plans to rejuvenate the industry after the pandemic is brought to a halt.
Here are the goals that should drive the effort of sustainable fashion brands, according to SAC:
- defend human and financial capital
- manage orders
- preserve supply chain relationships
- maintain critical social and environmental initiatives.
- re-assess marketing communications to rebuild customer trust
- revisit previous decisions made under pressure
- manage excess inventory.
- facilitate trust with transparent decision making
- rebuild sustainability practices to re-gain the pre-pandemic impact
- invest in new business models.
Thanks to this comprehensive roadmap, sustainable fashion brands now have a clear vision of how to navigate the pandemic.
Although sustainability has dropped off the agenda for some time, SAC recommends to maintain projects and bring them back as soon as possible.
Everybody understands that even the most prominent fashion companies have to fight for survival.
But does that mean that the post-pandemic era will be worse for sustainable fashion brands?
What Should Sustainable Fashion Brands Expect?
The pandemic will, undoubtedly, cause many problems for the fashion industry.
However, there are many reasons to think that the post-COVID-19 era will be great for sustainable brands.
First and foremost, many people will be interested in buying from them.
Sustainability will become an even greater factor for customers becoming more driven by ethics and environmental consciousness.
Moreover, they’re willing to pay more sustainable products.
Second, more people will explore new brands, as they will spend more time browsing the net while staying at home.
For sustainable fashion brands of all sizes, it’s a great opportunity to connect with them.
Will 2020 Be the Year of Prosperity for Sustainable Fashion?
In recent weeks, we’ve seen a lot of debate about the future of the sustainable fashion industry.
The sales are falling, and brands are considering pay cuts and making other sacrifices to keep themselves afloat.
But there’s something good happening, too.
People all over the world are re-evaluating their impact on the planet and learning to live with less.
Idris Elba is one of the first celebrities to come forward and claim that “the pandemic is nature’s response to our damage.”
Statements like this show once again that people are becoming increasingly interested in sustainable living.
So, even though 2020 might not be as prosperous as 2019, the industry should be fine and ready for massive growth after the crisis is over.
Hopefully, this moment will come soon.
In the meantime, let’s stay human, helpful to each other, and learn how to live with less.
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A decade of fashion; here’s to the next one.
The past decade has been turbulent – and defining – for fashion: child labour, climate crisis, gender inequality, animal cruelty, and reckless plastic pollution, just to name a few.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the beginning of this decade does not look too good either.
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