2020 was the year of unprecedented changes for everyone across the globe. It brought a lot of fundamental changes to the fashion industry. Most of these shifts were the direct outcome of the catastrophic Covid-19 pandemic that still has the entire world under its clasp. Preventive measures to curb the spread of virus-like travel restrictions, social distancing, isolation, event cancellation, and closure of businesses further crushed the fashion industry and influenced the fashion trends 2020. It won’t be an overstatement to say that every sector in the fashion industry experienced unprecedented challenges. Of all the consumer goods industries, the fashion and luxury industries were adversely affected.
With the global sale decreasing by 30%-40%, most retail stores shut down, and many fashion brands filed for bankruptcy. The temporary closure of markets and looming uncertainty led to numerous factory workers being furloughed.
But before understanding how the fashion industry went through a transformation in 2020, it’s essential to keep in mind that various stakeholders are involved in the fashion business. Sudden change in any one sector propels a chain reaction simultaneously affecting the remaining sectors.
The impact of covid-19 on the fashion industry
Suppliers of raw materials faced challenges in procuring enough resources from China in February 2020 when it went under lockdown. Countries dependent on raw materials from China were the ones that registered a significant dip in the production rate. Luckily, some small businesses in countries including India were able to resume operation with the help of Covid-19 support funds.
Many retailers and established fashion brands had no choice but to cancel orders and halt the production process in response to the pandemic. This harmed garment factory workers who were either furloughed or fired. This, in return, affected the economy of nations that earned revenue on garment export.
The shelter-in-place orders and lockdown further forced retailers to close their shops and markets. The 2020 Spring-Summer fashion season saw limited designers taking over the ramp. While most retailers and fashion brands declared bankruptcy, many others tapped on the potential of online marketing. Others played it smart by leveraging data-driven marketing and made the most out of the catastrophe. One of the most prominent fashion trends in 2020 was comfortable and casual wear. With work-from-home becoming the new normal, the demand for comfortable yet professional casual wear has increased. Many brands are now focusing on creating designs that complement the work-from-home environment.
As Robert Bilder, a psychologist, puts it, creativity is at the edge of chaos. And there is no industry better than fashion that connects well with this notion. Some of the most iconic fashion brands were born out of struggle. Amidst all the chaos and commotion caused by the pandemic, new styles are emerging, and business practices are developing to shape the fashion industry’s future.
Is sustainable fashion the way forward?
One trend that has seen a significant rise in recent years is sustainable fashion. Research has shown that the demand for sustainable fashion is only going to go bigger. The consumers of today are aware of the fact that the fashion industry is one of the dirtiest. They understand how fast fashion is damaging the environment and depleting resources. Slow fashion seems to be the only way forward as it allows the natural resources and environment to replenish. Today’s fashion buyers are turning away from brands and designers who solely focus on minting profit and give no thought to wastefulness and environmental cruelty.
The demand for transparency and social accountability from fashion brands and designers was so high in 2019 that the State of Fashion Report lauded it as the year of awakening for the fashion industry. While the year 2019 saw the rise in the popularity of second-hand clothing, 2020 paved the way for a decade of actionable changes.
Many young, forward-thinking fashion designers are embracing sustainable business practices and advocating for sustainability in the industry. Their focus is on creating designs that are economically feasible while being ethical.
Conscious consumption of fashion goods
Conscious consumerism is another crucial element that is driving positive change in the fashion industry. But what is conscious consumerism, and how is it impacting the business of fashion? Simply put, it is a practice of committing to making purchase decisions that positively impact the environment. Consumers’ buying habits are driven by the agenda of staying away from unethical brands and companies. In the context of fashion, more consumers are choosing to only buy out of necessity rather than impulse. They are also investing their time investigating the company and how it impacts the environment at every touchpoint.
According to a survey by Accenture in 2020, over 60% of buyers are shifting towards environment-friendly, ethical, and sustainable purchases. Another survey revealed that sustainable material use is one of the driving forces that dictate purchase behavior.
Consumers also want fashion brands and designers to be more responsible towards the environment and society. Besides this, consumers expect big players in the industry to make an ethical commitment towards helping workers and laborers survive through the crisis and beyond.
More than ever, it has become imperative for fashion brands to build trust with their brands. Brands that have established trust in the market are the ones people choose to buy from during the crisis.
Casual is the new black.
The buying behavior saw interesting trends in the year 2020. The spending pattern on fashion has also changed since the pandemic first hit the world, with more than 60% of buyers spending less on fashion and luxury products. Experts predict that the trend will continue for some time. The majority of consumers have cut back on luxury items and accessories. Interestingly, the demand for casual and comfortable clothing and accessories has seen an uptick.
Fashion buyers have shown an inclination towards casual wear for a long now. However, in 2020 casualization swept through the global fashion scenario with a determination that was never seen before. As Work-From-Home became the new normal throughout the world, casual wear has become a wardrobe staple. In the past few years only, the casual wear trend has taken over one-third of the world’s consumers. Latest fashion trends 2020 were also inspired by casuals and comfy styles. After the lockdown, the demand for comfortable yet presentable wear has gone up. Consumers are gravitating towards styles that are comfortable and can be transitioned into office wear without much effort.
The way forward
Looking at the consumer behavior and buying patterns caused due to the pandemic, it is clear that this crisis has been instrumental in resetting the fashion and luxury industry. At the same time, it has also exposed some weak links in the supply chain that industry players should strengthen for better chances of survival.
For more content related to Fashion & Beauty stay tuned to our blog