We are one month into 2021 already and in another lockdown in the UK. How will Covid affect the fashion industry this year? One thing is for sure, fashion is constantly evolving and it would appear that no virus is going to curtail that. That said, the pandemic has had a huge and devastating impact on all industries, absolutely including fashion.
So, what does the rest of the year hold for the fashion industry?
We have already seen the virtual fashion show in Berlin this year, and similar to last year London Fashion Week will also be a virtual affair, with all shows available to view online. There is some good in this, of course – the show must go on ethos – but with virtual, some tangible and physical elements are lost.
The virtual shows have been interesting to say the least and they are better than no shows at all.
McKinsey and the Business of Fashion have published their outlook on the fashion industry: The State of fashion 2021 and this gives us many insights into where we are now and where we might be heading. The report predicts a decrease in economic profit in the fashion industry of 93%…
… But it’s not all bad news. There has been a positive shift to digital fashion – better presentation of products online has been needed for some time and the increase in shopping online has led to this.
Better Online Shopping Experience
If there have been any winners in the fashion industry so far, it has been those that have had a solid online presence, offering up to date fashion, with choice, good pricing, easy user interface and fast delivery.
When we do return to a new kind of normal and high street stores are open for business, it has been predicted that there will be less lines available with a view to maximise that RRP – which hints at better quality and more statement pieces.
Less Is More
And more good news – the pre-pandemic processes and levels of mass production that were required to fuel Gen-Z’s love of ‘fast fashion’ have dropped off. The volume of cheap, poor quality items sold in high street stores declined 11% between January to April.
Does this mean a more sustainable approach in 2021? Better quality clothing that are manufactured to last would be welcome. This would require a savvier approach to shopping, with quality over quantity being applied – surely a good thing?
In the same way, recycling of clothing has become more popular. For instance, The US based website ThredUP which sells secondhand clothing online is projecting growth to five times in size over the next five years.
A Personal Stylist’s View
So, what about everyday fashion for all of us? We spoke to a leading personal stylist in the UK, Chantelle Znideric:
‘Since the pandemic hit, for many of us, it has been an interesting one to navigate. However, still being able to do a job I love has kept me positively motivated. Adjusting to working virtually with clients by providing online personal styling and shopping solutions has been an opportunity I am incredibly grateful for.
The situation has forced us all to shop more online, some more than others and at different times, depending on what tier we find ourselves in. I know for retail and I can only imagine for the fashion industry overall, it hasn’t known whether it is coming or going. Fashions have changed from ‘Sleek to Slouch’ in a matter of months with more brands introducing loungewear to their collections. Who would have thought?
For me and my clients, there has been less of an emphasis on the latest trends but introducing higher quality pieces that last for longer, coupled with adopting slow fashion rules and advocating sustainable fashion. Stylish loungewear and chic yet comfortable working from home outfits have featured heavily! Due to circumstances, our lifestyles have taken quite a u-turn which means we don’t need as much clothing to keep up with our social interaction. We simply need to invest in the right pieces and buy only what suits. Dressing for our unique personal style, body shape and natural colouring is more important than ever. Hopefully, those quick and impulsive fast fashion purchases will be a thing of the past.
Over the past 12 months, I have seen lots of augmented reality fashion and shopping apps appear, which are a great idea. However, I would like to see more enhanced shopping experiences for customers when they choose to shop online, along with an intelligent personalisation solution, which guides them to buy the right clothing items and helps them to create new outfits for their individuality. It’s all to play for so, watch this space!’