Trends in Fashion Industry:
Almost every sector got affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but one of the industries that marked record-low economic profits was the fashion industry. It took a big hit in 2020. It was expected that the situation would improve by 2021, the new variant of COVID-19 has turned down all the hopes. As the epidemic continues in 2021, predictions are that the fashion industry will see yet another downfall.
The outbreak has brought a significant change in consumer behavior. Many customers were thrust into self-quarantine, and it continues to happen to this day. The consumers have already adapted to a new style of living as COVID-19 has become the new normal. People are focusing on the essential things rather than the luxuries of fashion items. McKinsey rightfully says that the wardrobes of people are full of clothes. It is just their desire to get new clothes, but health has become the need of the hour with the new pandemic.
People are more concerned about how these fashion companies treat their employees rather than solely focusing on their stylish look. While many fashion brands have gone digital, studies suggest that the new virus is transferable through people and through surfaces such as fabric, where the virus lasts for two days. It is a significant concern for clothing manufacturers and pattern cutters as their entire work depends on the fabric.
Problems with Digitalization of Fashion Brands:
While all the physical stores were closed down during the lockdown, only the brands that shifted towards digitalization have seen growth. Digitalization, however, has its problems. Although this means that the clothing manufacturers will remain in the business, since the demand of the fashion industry has declined, so has their profits. The following are some of the significant problems the fashion industry would have to consider:
Digital Marketing Manipulation:
There are always trust issues with every online thing as the customers are unsure whether the brand will provide what it promises. Like every industry, the problem with the fashion industry going towards digitalization is digital marketing manipulation. The consumers know very well that all these fashion brands have a reasonable budget to invest into models, cameras, editors, and the list goes on. As a result, the output is a very filtered version of what the product looks like in reality. Using models, high-equipment cameras, and editing the pictures turns the actual product into a manipulated version of how the brand wants the consumers to perceive it. In short, what appeals to an eye on screen does not necessarily look the same in reality.
Another major problem with the digitalization of fashion brands is customer satisfaction concerning the quality of the fashion item. It is nearly impossible to ensure the quality of the fashion items unless the consumers are not physically in contact with them. Moreover, a fashion item may look good in pictures, but it does not turn out well once you try that item. Fashion trends are something that hits differently to different people. It is not as if the same article will look good on every person. Therefore, the fashion companies will have to think out of the box to solve this concern.
For instance, the brands could provide a delivery service and give leverage to the customers to check the quality of their desired fashion goods upon arrival. If an issue occurs concerning the quality of the goods, they can return them. It will fulfill customer satisfaction as well as a brand’s responsibility to ensure what they promise. The real question will fashion brands go to this extent. If not, do they have creative ideas to not only maintain their customers’ loyalty but to attract new consumers as well?
Innovations for Survival:
Keeping all of these problems and the epidemic situation in mind, the question that emerges is what innovation does the fashion industry need to survive during these harsh times. The fashion brands would have to adopt new strategies and shift their marketing approach creatively during the pandemic to turn their losses into profits. Following are some of the ways to do this:
Physical Stores to Digital Stores:
Although there are many concerns with the digitalization of fashion brands, statistics show that the fashion companies that went digital in 2020 have seen a growth in their revenues compared to the ones that didn’t go digital. This growth rate will increase in 2021 as well. It does not mean that the companies’ revenue grew as compared to the year 2019 as the fashion industry will not be able to compete with that. At least not in the early stages, but digital is the future.
Social media has proved to be an excellent platform for the fashion industry. Some brands were already using social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram for marketing purposes, but a new platform that emerged at the start of the outbreak was TikTok. A few brands have already used TikTok’s video services to promote their brand and have seen a considerable amount of success. Short and creative videos have helped fashion brands gain a massive amount of audience.
Rebranding and Inclusion:
We have already talked about a change in consumer behaviors. People have started taking notice of how the brands have treated their employees during the hard times. Thus, it will not be wrong to say that the brands would make profits by adapting to diversity and inclusion. Moreover, generating profits by setting the right example is precisely what the world needs at the moment. Showing diversity and inclusion through fashion is not a big deal. The brands need to work towards their brand’s identity, message, and culture.
For instance, it is high time that the brands start hiring models with various diverse backgrounds. Whether it be models with disabilities, race, or color, brands can hire them and set new standards. Everyone is perfect. It is high time to set the correct standards, and with people wanting diversity in the market, it is the perfect thing to do so.
Influencers play a vital role in the marketing of fashion brands. Therefore, brands can seek help from influencers to launch their clothing initiatives. Instagram is the best platform for this. Some brands have invested wisely in influencer marketing to create brand awareness digitally.
The fashion industry has experienced a decline due to COVID-19, and it may decline in 2021 as well since the situation is still not in control. The only way to get a grip during this outbreak is for the fashion brands to go digital and act according to the changing consumer behaviors. Only time will tell whether and how the fashion industries are going to survive during these challenging times.