For every industry, the year 2020 was one of the most difficult in history. The fashion sector was also severely impacted, with decreased sales, altered client behavior, and disrupted supply chains all around the world. This article examines the numerous changes wrought by the pandemic, which may or may not persist in the future.
This year has been exactly as turbulent as the previous one, with more lockdowns and political instability. Customers are shedding their well-worn sweatpants, donning a face mask, and emerging from their isolation cocoons to tackle the second half of 2021, with more adults fully vaccinated and the world reopening.
What trends do merchants need to provide in the future as customer needs change? With over a year of research on the effects of coronavirus, we will show you the impact of covid-19 on fashion trends and what to look out for in the upcoming days.
Impact of COVID-19 on the Fashion Industry
In the year 2020, the globe faced a major catastrophe in the shape of the COVID-19 epidemic, with industries experiencing their worst year on record. Almost every industry is still in a state of flux, with revenue and profit margins under threat. Demand for clothes has been slashed as a result of skewed economic activities.
- According to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers Exporters Association (BGMEA), orders have been canceled or halted totaling $3.18 billion, or 982 million pieces.
- According to the BBC, up to half of Bangladesh’s 4 million garment workers, largely women, may lose their employment by 2020. And the employees at garment manufacturers aren’t the only ones affected by the crisis.
- It is also having a significant impact on some of the most precarious workers further down the supply chain, such as homeworkers who are unable to receive support from brands or the government because they are not in legally recognized employment; migrant workers who have lost their jobs but are separated from their families hundreds of miles away; and cotton farmers who are unable to harvest their fields.
This epidemic just emphasizes the need for fundamental, industry-wide reform. Many of the human rights concerns we’ll be discussing in this course have become worse since the worldwide epidemic began.
Impacts of COVID-19 in the Fashion economy
- Disruption of the supply chain: China is a major supplier of fashion items. When China is disrupted, the global value chain is disrupted as well. The COVID-19 epidemic put China under lockdown, followed by the rest of the globe. Retailers were canceling orders because there was no demand in the market. To avert the epidemic, every country has placed export and import restrictions. Inventory that could not be delivered to merchants was kept in warehouses for a short length of time. Due to lockdowns, this inventory was not sold, and it was unclear whether demand would be present the next season.
- Work-from-home clothing: As people worked, lived, and played from their homes, the pandemic boosted sales of comfortable leisurewear. “Work-from-home” is a clothing category that has only existed during this epidemic and will continue to exist for a long time.
- Market shift: Consumers turned to e-commerce as a result of the limitations, forcing shops to adapt their operations as well. Others were extending their reach through community-building virtual experiences to those who already had e-commerce traction. Nike’s e-commerce sales surged as a result of its fitness app’s workout-from-home content. In the first quarter, the number of users increased by 80%, resulting in a 30% rise in digital sales. While buyers picked up online orders from fashion retailers, fashion firms with complementing digital and physical channels benefited.
- Changes in physical stores: When compared to other resellers, businesses that issued messages and exhibited safety precautions such as masked salesmen, hand sanitizer, and signage indicating frequent cleanings saw greater foot traffic. Consumers wanted to connect with and purchase in shops that made their health and safety policies obvious. As a result, Apple sent a letter to all of its customers explaining how they plan to handle the reopening, and Gucci sent out gloves and masks to all customers.
- Customer relationship: Apparel brands have a stronger bond with their customers. Those shops who delayed the general dangers and worries, rather than focused solely on pushing sales, were able to build and maintain relationships with customers. Even if consumers were cautious with their purchasing, communication was crucial in keeping them loyal to their favorite companies. Every manufacturer was creating masks in part to stay afloat in the market.
- Impact on the economy: Malls and businesses were shuttered because of the COVID-19 epidemic. At the outset of the epidemic, smart retailers moved their attention to digital retail, but this hurt department stores and new small businesses that were ill-equipped to adapt to e-commerce. This was the beginning of layoffs, store closings, and bankruptcy. Some examples: Zara shuttered 1,200 stores, while Gucci declared that instead of five fashion presentations in 2020, it will only hold two. By the fourth quarter of 2021, the global economy might be back to where it was in 2019. In a more uncertain situation, recovery may take longer, and enterprises may be subjected to supply and demand instability for years. At the earliest, a full recovery will not occur until the third quarter of 2022.
Fashion Trend Shift during COVID-19
- Face masks: Face masks had become everyone’s go-to item after every country enacted laws requiring individuals to wear them whenever they went out in public. Not only local businesses but also luxury and high fashion labels offered a wide range of mask possibilities. Face masks made from up-cycled fabric scraps and waste materials were also popular.
- Loungewear: People are caring less about FOMO (fear of missing out) and more about JOMO (joy of missing out) because of the “Netflix & Chill” idea (the joy of missing out). People have rediscovered the delight of remaining indoors during the shutdown. This period gave birth to a new garment category: loungewear, which can be worn both outdoors and inside, making it a better choice for the environment by creating less waste. It was one of the most in-demand commodities in 2020, and the trend is anticipated to continue.
- Activewear: As gyms shuttered, home workouts and virtual fitness classes grew in popularity, boosting apparel sales during COVID-19. Athleta, Alo Yoga, and Lululemon are just a few of the fantastic fitness clothing companies available. During the shutdown, kimonos, kaftans, and other easy-to-wear clothing took the place of extravagant dresses and eveningwear. Meanwhile, formalwear designer Reiss developed a new “luxury leisure” collection in response to the popularity of its leisurewear-focused items.
- Sneakers: Although sporting activities were canceled and gyms and pools were closed, there was a surge in demand for sportswear. Home workout sessions were established by fitness apps and clubs, while retailers, brands, and designers sent out messages encouraging people to exercise at home. As a result, sneakers remain the most popular accessory, particularly in the United Kingdom. Brands have merged loungewear with athletics, such as joggers, which are the most popular type. Consumers continue to choose performance features like grip soles, moisture-wicking materials, and quick-dry textiles.
- Dopamine dressing: Dopamine dressing has emerged as a way for customers to enhance their spirits through design to counteract the negative impacts of 2020. Endorphin-inducing hues (yellow, orange, green, pink, red, and blue), kitsch themes, summer camp jewelry, and psychedelic 70s patterns are being introduced into retailers’ cheery assortments, reflecting Gen Z’s nostalgia and experimentation.
Furthermore, when individuals are forced to stay at home and retail outlets throughout the world remain closed, the impact of covid-19 in fashion trends resulted in apparel demand being decreased. People are rethinking and reprioritizing their spending habits as a result of it. This might cause fashion trends to stall down for a period, causing firms to focus on providing fewer, higher-quality items to stay profitable. Alternatively, everything may return to normal, with a focus on speed and high-volume manufacturing. However, we believe both consumers and brands will have to adjust to a new normal. While only time will tell what that new normal will look like, taking steps to address the concerns we will learn about along the course will be more vital than ever.