It’s safe to say that in just two short months, there has been a seismic shift in the way people view fashion. While for a few getting dressed every morning has been a ritual reminder of who they are, for many others, “regular” clothes have been packed away in favour of comfortable classics and athleisure looks that will see them through from morning to night.
The knock-on effect of this? People are spending less and less money on new clothes, and fashion retailers are beginning to pay the price. Already we’ve seen retailers such as Debenhams go into administration. At the same time, Oasis and Warehouse are the latest brands to say they will be closing their websites, stores and concessions indefinitely with a loss of 1800 jobs.
What’s more, it has been reported that potentially billions of pounds worth of clothing set to be released for Spring Summer 2020 may have to be sold off at a fraction of the price it should have been. And retailers such as Primark – who don’t trade online – have been forced to cancel their upcoming stock.
It is a bleak outlook for an industry which last year contributed £32billion to the British economy, with sales predicted to drop overall by 30% in 2020. But all hope is not to be lost. Like with many other industries, Covid-19 is offering the fashion industry a chance to adapt and grow. Here’s how the future could play out.
Out With Seasons: In With Timeless Tailoring
At present fashion is, in the broader sense, broken down into two seasons; autumn/winter and spring/summer, with high-street retailers, often taking their trend influence from the twice-a-year fashion month period and the designer shows held in New York, Milan, London and Paris. However, with the recent announcement from Saint Laurent that they are removing themselves from the fashion week schedule for the rest of 2020, many are questioning how this is will impact fashion as a whole.
We’re likely going to see a shift away from trend-led fashion to a heavier focus around timeless tailoring. What’s more, how often brands release new items is also likely to change. At present many online retailers release new seasonal items as often as every day. Still, if we continue to cycle through further periods of lockdown, these releases may become obsolete and replaced with few, more considered, ‘drops.’ Especially when consumers don’t want to spend money on high fashion items which may never see the light of day.
Finding The Right Fit
With less disposable income to spend on fast fashion, consumers are likely to become more discerning about where they shop, with durability and fit at the top of their wish lists. Previously the high-street has come under fire for its lack of universal sizing, with some retailed such as Topshop and Whistles being accused of vanity sizing; putting smaller sizes on larger sized clothes. With it now being suggested that retailers may have to close their changing-rooms when they reopen finding the right fit the first time is going to be more important than ever.
Therefore brands might want to take a leaf out of ASOS’ book. At the beginning of 2020, the online retailer was praised for trailing their ‘See My Fit,’ feature in collaboration with the augmented reality company Zeekit. Costumers could select their desired item and then see how it fit on 16 different models, ranging in clothes sizes as well as height. The move was a hit with consumers with many requesting that it be rolled out across their whole collection for both men and women.
Keep It Capsule
Previously capsule wardrobes were things fashion editors talked about, and normal consumers aspired to, but they will see a rise in popular post Covid-19 as consumers strive to shop better. This ties back into the idea of seasonality, whereas before trend-led pieces would make up a large percentage of people’s wardrobes, shopping will now be more considered experience.
This has a benefit to both retailers and consumers. On the one hand, retailers will be keen to avoid hurrying back into a situation where they are left with surplus seasonal stock which they are unable to shift. From the other side, consumers will be looking to buy items which don’t date easily.
Cool To Be Comfortable
Not all areas of fashion have been struggling amid the Covid-19 crisis, in fact, sales of comfortable clothing have shot up thanks to the fact that everyone is spending so much time indoors – even Vogue editor Anna Wintour shared a photograph of herself on Instagram wearing a pair of jogging bottoms.
LikeToKnowIt.com say they have seen a 2000% increase in searches for sweatpants and fast-fashion retailer Boohoo, who have seen their shares rise in the last month, have revealed that they’ve seen a huge sales spike for hoodies and jogging bottoms. But even when the lockdown is lifted this trend is likely to stick around. Heavily influenced by the athleisure trend comfortable clothing which can be worn both in – and outside of – the house will continue to play a key role in people’s wardrobes as we look towards a future where working-from-home is more likely for many.
The Offer Must Be Clear
One of the issues which have occurred brands like Debenhams and Oasis is that as fashion has changed rapidly over the last decade, their offering remained largely static, as did how they were speaking to their consumers. Plus, they failed to target new demographics such as millennials and Gen Z, both of whom are known to spend a large percentage of their disposable income on fashion.
Post Covid-19 knowing who you’re targeting and speaking to them in a language they understand is going to be more important than ever. Take, for example, Nasty Gal. The fast-fashion brand has gained a huge following of 4.6million on Instagram by cultivating their offering to appeal to young Gen Z women who long to look like their favourite stars. Plus, when interacting with their followers, they don’t just post fashion shoots – memes and jokes are interspersed into their feed to show they really know their customer and how they communicate with one another.
Olivia Foster is a freelance writer and content producer specialising in fashion, entertainment and women’s lifestyle. She has written for Grazia, Marie Claire, and Stylist.