Make no mistake, fashion is big business. According to the British Council, the UK’s fashion industry is worth a staggering £26 billion annually, making it the country’s largest creative economy and providing over 800,000 jobs.
However, like so many of our national industries, fashion has not been immune to the Covid-19 pandemic. From the catwalk to the high street, an invisible enemy wreaked havoc on a thriving industry. Lockdowns forced retail outlets to close, disrupted supply chains, and even changed the way people dressed as home working became the norm.
The Future Of The Fashion Industry: The Challenges Facing Apparel Manufacturers
As the country (slowly) emerges from the shadow of Covid-19, what are the long-term implications for the fashion industry today and in the future?
Ditching Formal Attire For Casual Alternatives
As businesses were forced to close their doors during lockdown and workers were asked to stay at home, the nation’s purchasing habits changed. The decline of formalwear – already in play even before Covid-19– accelerated as Britain’s homeworkers opted for hoodies, jeans, and leggings above shirts, skirts, and suits. From the woollen mills of northern Italy to the formal wear retailers of the British high street, demand plummeted. It’s a trend that looks likely to continue, as businesses opt for a hybrid home-office model or as businesses ditch their formal workwear codes in favour of casual garments.
Spending Less And Increasing The Lifespan Of Our Wardrobes
During lockdowns, clothing purchases fell dramatically, with over one-half of consumers spending less on their wardrobes. With most people confined to their homes and day trips, social and sports activities, and holidays firmly off the agenda, new purchasing habits have emerged. Many consumers indicate they intend to purchase fewer clothes in future; instead, they’ll buy fewer, better-quality garments or second-hand items, or simply make-do-and-mend, so apparel manufacturers will need to plan for changing consumer habits to stay competitive.
Soaring Demand For Socially Responsible Brands
Environmental change is high on the agenda, particularly for Generation Z – the 16-24 year-olds for whom the issue of climate change is of greatest concern. Over two-thirds of consumers in this age group plan to change their purchasing habits to favour brands who demonstrate a strong commitment to environmentally-friendly policies. Workers’ rights, too, is a key concern, so apparel and footwear businesses will need to demonstrate that they partner with suppliers who offer humane working conditions and fair pay for employees.
Online Sales Overpowering Bricks-And-Mortar Shops
Faced with the temporary closure of high street shops in lockdown, consumers turned to the internet. Longer periods of leisure time meant consumers spent more hours browsing digital sales channels, so the consequential surge in online purchases at the expense of bricks-and-mortar stores was unsurprising. In 2021, over 8,700 chain stores have closed, with the fashion industry hardest hit, so apparel businesses face elimination unless they formulate realistic plans to expand their business into new channels. As the industry becomes increasingly digital, it’s vital that businesses exploit the power of B2B purchasing, as well as B2C.
Defining The New Normal With STYLEman365 ERP
Despite the far-reaching implications of the pandemic, the challenges facing the fashion industry are not insurmountable. The fashion industry today is unrecognisable compared to a decade ago, yet apparel and footwear businesses must move with the times to embrace new technologies across the whole product lifecycle.
At Option Systems, our innovative ERP and B2B fashion software, STYLEman365 ERP and B2B, is custom-built to meet the challenges your business faces. To find out more, simply request your free demonstration of our ground-breaking ERP system for the fashion industry.
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