FASHION INDUSTRY AND THE WAY FORWARD IN 2021
The fashion industry has witnessed tectonic changes due to the ongoing pandemic situation since the beginning of 2020. The challenges also brought with it myriad opportunities, innovations and technological gateways. Though these may have been around for years, its significance was witnessed during this past year.
Many brands that adhered to conventional forms of business, have made a complete overhaul in their business models to accommodate strategies that helped them stay afloat. Hence, the pandemic brought with it a surge of significant changes to the dynamic fashion industry.
Some of the noticeable changes are as follows:
The digital medium has proven to be a catalyst during the time of the pandemic. Though the digital revolution has made a headway its impact was observed at a greater scale during these times across industries. The fashion industry is no stranger to the adoption of trends, technology, social media and the digital spectrum.
Due to the initial restrictions and hesitancy faced by customers to step outside to shop, the go-to medium for the much-needed retail therapy has been “online shopping”. Though online shopping has been around for some time, not all labels were onboard. This time around the realm of online stores has proved to be a boon to fashion retailers and companies who were not prepared to lose their in-store sales in the last year. That’s why in 2021 will witness a most of them will focus on expanding their e-commerce retail and digital presence.
This is also observed in the way trends are created and broadcasted nowadays. Livestreams and digital events are increasingly being implemented in the fashion industry. Many brands are already live-streaming their fashion shows eg. Balmain, Hermes, Burberry and Milan Fashion Week men’s AW21 were hosted digitally. Moreover, we have fashion retailers utilizing AR and VR to upgrade experiences such as: online dressing rooms and virtual catwalks.
These observations point towards the advent of a much-needed key skill in the industry in 2021: Advanced Digital Skills. From thinking of innovative technological ideas or knowing how to market across generations that aren’t adept to shop physically, technological skills will be what every company in the fashion industry will be looking for in the coming year.
Sustainability is slowly and steadily gaining traction. Earlier just observed among a smaller segment, the younger generations are realizing its impact on the planet and community as a whole. This shift is observed due to raised awareness which calls for responsibility not just from customers but also from the fashion retailers too. Companies have ventured into using vegan substitutes for animal products, utilizing renewable energy and water-saving alternatives to contribute towards control of climate change. Many brands have steadily embraced vouched to create negative footprint on the planet to generate a positive impact on the climate. Large scale manufacturing is being re-imagined, through the means of technology and sustainable alternatives.
Circular Fashion for people-centred approach
As the effects of the pandemic were felt globally, it was also a wakeup call for the consumer and the fashion industry. As businesses look to re-emerge stronger from the global catastrophe, there is a strong advocacy for a sustainable system through the integration of circularity in the recovery plans. However, circular economic models had sprung up even before the COVID-19 outbreak in the fashion industry, to counter its enormous environmental impact and to respond to economic opportunities.
By adopting Circular Fashion through people-centred approach, we can build a stronger industry by taking into consideration the well-being of everyone that form a part of the cycle. By ensuring the health and safety of workers and production communities, enables creative and dignified employment, and building models that can be adapted to the needs of a diverse consumer base.
Especially important during times like these, the ability to be flexible and adapt to what is happening around you is essential. Whether it is a change in buying behavior due to a global pandemic or a complete change of tasks in your job – adaptation is more necessary than ever. The year has proved that in order to be successful in the fashion industry nowadays, you need to have knowledge and abilities in different areas.
Also, the ability to make decisions quickly is needed in this day and age. In the case of an event or global emergency a brand, company, and employee needs to be able to make not only fast but also efficient and contemporary decisions.
Think local, Go Global
The concept of Think Local, Go Global lies in creating a self-sustenance and to look into one’s own neighbourhood to create local goods with locally available resources. With the current challenges and its mass impact on livelihoods, the focus is on introspecting into our past behaviours to bring about a positive change. However, going local does not limit business opportunities, but is the harbinger of a highway to go global.
How to achieve vocal for local goals?
- A balance of quality, innovation and pricing
- Preserve and promote local skills/products
- Generation of employment through localized manufacturing
- Begin reliable and autonomous sources of raw materials
- Think local, Go global
- Usage of resources in a rational and integrated way
The fashion industry has a lot to look forward to in 2021. From futuristic online shopping, virtual dressing rooms, fashion shows or presentations, the year witnessed a shift to a more sustainable and ethical approach to fashion. Hence, this provides a gateway for different opportunities to work on the building of necessary skills!
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