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Losing the Thread: What's next for the fashion industry amidst the global health crisis?


19.03.2020 - COVID-19 and it's effect on fashion at large

Losing the Thread: What's next for the fashion industry amidst the global health crisis?

We didn't know if we were going to do this. With everyone giving their two cents about everything that's going on currently, we didn't want to be the next ones ringing the bell for even more Corona-Content. We are, however, equally affected by this health crisis as everyone else in the scene, so we did our due diligence to give you a round up of what has been happening, is happening and what might happen in the future. Welcome to our first (and hopefully only) crisis-talk.

A week ago, Howy Mandel turned up to the set of "America's Got Talent" in a full hazmat suit. Now while we surely aren't there yet, and probably never will be, it turned the spotlight onto a quite underreported intersection of the effects of the global spread of the Coronavirus: The way it affects the global textile and fashion industry. China and Italy are the two countries affected the worst by the outbreak and unfortunately also the two most important countries in global fashion and textile.

Shortly after the conclusion of the last Milan Fashion Week, the whole country went into a tailspin. The numbers of newly infected people was rising in a frightening way, leading up to a near collapse of their healthcare infrastructure and successively, the lockdown of a whole country. China felt the effects of the outbreak much earlier and in an even harder way. Factories stopped working, stores closed, the strongest buying country in global fashion went to a halt and the domino effect was in full swing. Struggles to cope with supply chain issues and weak demand led to smaller labels being forced to cancel parts of their collections and large fashion houses were hit hard by the lack of orders from Asia.

What has been happening to Italy’s fashion industry is most likely a preview of the coronavirus’ impact on the global fashion economy as such. Nearly every single fashion brand is dependent on China as both a manufacturing giant and a billion-plus-consumer market with a huge growth potential. China counts the biggest buyers in luxury and fashion of the last 10 years with more than 70% of the annual growth in luxury consumption. Now, the industry will have to re-think it's best practices when it comes to manufacturing as well as sales. The effects of that? Nobody know's just yet.

Right now, cut-and-sew factories worldwide are trying trying their hardest to get orders out, with mixed results. As soon as the fall and winter collections roll around, however, there will a renewed need for textiles and other parts that go into apparel and accessories. You can't ship a collection if you're missing the zippers, after all. The supply chain is disrupted in so many of its parts currently, there is no educated guess to be made as to when it will be up and running again. Will fashion brands begin to successively pull out of the Chinese production market? Will new markets arise? How will the supply chain adjust to the shifting landscape post-Corona?

For us retailers, it is already a maddening challenge. With few securities, if any, our profession will have to navigate unknown waters for the foreseeable future and we will have to learn and change the way we approach offering and selling goods to our customers. Above all stands, as always, honesty. It's not like hoodwinking your customers would've been a good practice at any point in the past, but now more than ever, retailers need to make sure they can deliver a realistic outlook to their customers.

Retailers will have to reinvent their ways of communication to keep their appearance fresh in times when newness cannot be achieved by just offering new products, since there might not be many. Most people are at home now, bringing a spike to online activity, so people will be looking for engagement in more ways than before. Time to think outside the box.
All that being said, we at HNTA will be doing our best to keep offering you the latest news and developments around the fashion world and we are working tirelessly to offer you new collections by the week. Stay tuned, stay safe, stay home, wash your hands. Much love, HNTA.