A NEW NORMAL
When the Milan Fashion Week held its show in front of an empty audience end of February, many were still hopeful that things will get better sooner than they get worse. But in the span of a few weeks, the entire fashion world, previously thought of as stubborn and resistant to change, has been shaken to its very core.
Since then, we have seen a domino effect of cancellations, from sporting events up to trade shows, as major cities around the world braced themselves against the virus. Industry players across the spectrum either dropped their shows or have considered presenting their collections in a different format, putting the entire industry on its knees.
With the end still nowhere in sight, we should expect to see some fundamental shifts in the industry. How will the industry change after corona? Are we facing a new normal for fashion?
We can say with certainty that brands would not be able to function in their pre-pandemic capacities, months or even years after the pandemic. This is already evident today.
With basic industries such as agriculture experiencing workforce deficit and consumers losing a considerable part of their purchasing power, demand for fashion retail will most likely dip after the pandemic.
But aside from the diminished purchasing power, fundamental changes in consumer behavior and philosophy are also bound to happen. As they reflect on their priorities, we can't expect consumers to return to their old shopping patterns as if nothing happened.
Luxury brands will take the brunt of this change in consumer behavior. Even today, publicly-traded luxury brands such as Burberry, Revolve, Hermès, and others are already experiencing a drop in their stock market prices. Even as China (where one-third of the demand for luxury items come from) slouches towards recovery, post-Corona consumers will likely direct their purchasing power towards other commodities.
Put simply, consumers will have to let go of luxuries that quickly depreciate in value as long as things remain unstable.
It is also likely that all of these will increase the demand for sustainable fashion products and stimulate a shift towards a sustainable lifestyle in general. Because sustainability is oriented towards longevity and is not too dependent on the global supply chain, consumers will see it not only as a lifestyle choice but as a practical option. This also means that brands will be compelled to match these expectations with ethical production and practices.
As they reflect on their priorities, we can't expect consumers to return to their old shopping patterns as if nothing happened.