There is no denying it that the world as we knew it, has changed. According to the International Monetary Fund, the world economy in 2020 is likely to be in the same league as the Great Depression (source). It comes as no surprise that the fashion design industry also took a hit.
For centuries, people have tweaked their fashion sense when faced with transformational events. Wigs became popular during the spread of syphilis in the 16th century to hide hair loss. Long dresses with high waists were in vogue during the Tuberculosis outbreak. Post Covid-19, masks have become a wardrobe staple, and gloves seem to be next on the list. While we know that we are looking for another shift in the fashion industry post Covid-19, only time will tell what those changes will be.
Here are the major highlights of the transforming the fashion design industry post Covid-19.
Omnichannel strategy for survival
The fashion design industry has been predominantly dependent on brick and mortar stores for a major chunk of its sales. Bespoke garments, personal attention to shoppers, opulence, and glamour have been the driving force for many designers. However, in the era of social distancing, fashion designers have survived by shifting towards online fashion.
In April 2020, a study conducted by McKinsey discovered that while customer’s intent to purchase has decreased, there was a difference in online vs offline channels. Europe and North America, where the titans of the fashion industry reside, showed a 70-80% decline in offline while 30-40% decline in online purchase intent. In China, the country with the largest population, 74% of consumers said they avoided shopping malls, a major outlet for sales.(source)
In a bold move, Alessandro Michelle, the creative director of Gucci, is campaigning for a reduction in fashion weeks. Taking a leaf from his book, fashion designers and the associated supply chain are adapting to virtual shopping. While we may return to the traditional form of shopping someday, for now, optimising online purchase is the trendsetter for the fashion design industry.
Bespoke to everyday
The fashion industry, like many others in the wake of the pandemic, came to a standstill in 2020. Bespoke clothes and couture fashion have been all but abandoned, for who would wear them while being confined to their homes? The result is many factories being shut down indefinitely with workers receiving less than a month’s salary as severance (source). Brands have been unable to pay for the orders, staggering the source of income for entire the supply chain.
On the other hand, everyday clothes and artisanal fashion have gained awareness. Sustainable fashion brands have managed to generate appreciation for the work and effort their craft requires. There is also a shift to a preference for everyday wear. Fashion designers are adapting their work to meet the growing demand for masks, gloves, and comfortable apparel. While some designers have written of the year 2020 and preparing for 2021, others have switched from creating designer clothes to making clothes for health care workers to survive.
Shaping the minds of future fashion designers online
Many fashion design institutes have joined the tide of online teaching. With travel restrictions, students can’t journey to university campuses to pursue their education and degrees. In these unprecedented times, colleges and institutes have taken innovative measures to make sure that students continue with their education in a smooth manner.
At Pearl Academy, we have rolled out various initiatives to ensure an uninterrupted learning experience for our students. We’ve offered online learning tools and are following strict safety protocols. We’re also offering a pre-semester learning module to help students ease into new forms of learning.
While no one can tell what the future holds, it is clear that only through rethinking and complete overhauling will the fashion design industry survive the pandemic.