COVID-19 Coronavirus’ Effect on Fashion Industry & Startups

Coronavirus' Effect on Fashion Industry

COVID-19 Coronavirus’ Effect on Fashion Industry & Startups

Hello Fearless Fashionpreneurs. We’re back after a brief break, but to a very different world. Our hearts go out to everyone affected by COVID-19. We are praying for the sick, those that have lost a family member or loved one, for our healthcare professionals, essential workers, business owners and everyone adjusting to stay-at-home guidelines in effect. Let’s answer the question everyone is wondering. How big is the Coronavirus’ effect on the Fashion Industry?

This will be the first of a three-part series as we look at how Covid-19 is impacting the fashion industry.

The Coronavirus’ Effect on the Fashion Industry

It’s predicted that the negative impact will be 16% to 45% across all business sectors, including apparel. The textile industry is one of the first to take a huge hit with the three top countries at the epicenter of the pandemic. Italy was the first country to completely shut down, with India following this week. China is slowly coming back after nearly three months, but to what?

Covid-19 has nearly caused U.S. retail to entirely vanish. So the answer is yes, the coronavirus has had a big effect the fashion industry. The Gap and Kohl’s are the latest to furlough workers, while Macy’s just announced that they will furlough the majority of their 125,000 workforce. Meanwhile H&M is laying off tens of thousands and the Coronavirus shut down could likely be the death knell for the struggling JC Penney.

Domestic factories are either closed or functioning with skeleton workforces of about 25%, including Gildan Activewear Inc. which is temporarily halting production at all manufacturing plants. The effect of low-cost retailers like Primark cancelling all orders, is taking a toll world-wide as well.1.5 billion dollars’ worth of orders were cancelled to Bangladesh alone. Central America, Vietnam, Tunisia and other countries are also facing mass closures. (H&M has said they will pay and take delivery of goods already manufactured by it’s suppliers as well as those in production. Love you Sweden!)

Distribution centers have begun closing as well including L Brands who are starting to close all of their Bath & Body Works, Victoria’s Secret and Pink stores. In an interesting twist, a third-party company will handle Bath & Body Works orders as there is a high demand for their soaps and hand sanitizers. It’s good to hear that there are still some stores thriving in the midst of this.

COVID-19 Effect on Fashion Startups

Trade shows, markets and events have been cancelled or postponed, though many are considering virtual and digital shows. American denim industry leaders Kingpins, are leading the way with the popular Kingpins24 Amsterdam show going live on their website via livestream and on-demand – offering free content no less – on April 22nd. And UK Sourcing Expo Make it British are launching a virtual version in two months. As we’re seeing the textile industry go this route experts predict these digital shows will gain traction as global governments continue to ban social gatherings. I think the Met Gala should follow their lead and do an Instagram live. I’m sure invitees have closets dripping with fabulous gowns they can recycle. Theme is sustainability!

And it’s not just big brands that are suffering, small brands are having to think fast on their feet as the situation changes day by day. As you can see, the Coronavirus effect on the fashion industry is no joke.. I had a client’s photoshoot location cancelled the night before the shoot due to the mandatory quarantine put in place in her area.  Then we conducted our first Zoom fitting with the model fitting by herself due to social distancing rules. We even sent her an unopened box of safety pins as an extra precaution against transmittal. Thank goodness for technology and ingenuity!

Another brand I know had launched a successful Kickstarter campaign at the end of the 2019. This was due to start shipping bags to consumers now. They were manufactured in China and got stuck in customs due to the Coronavirus. So she had to do some quick thinking and find a manufacturer in L.A. to produce her bags. In the end she got them, but her finances definitely took a hit.

How the Fashion Industry is Affecting Covid-19

The fashion industry is halfway between a stall and a complete turnaround as independent labels like Christian Siriano and Cynthia Rowley, along with massive corporations like Gap, Coty, and Bvlgari, are converting their plants to making masks, hospital gowns, and hand sanitizer. Elle has a great round up of companies that are stepping up to fight Covid-19. Some of my favorites:

Net-a-porter is using some of its vehicles to deliver food and supplies to various charities in London. Kate Spade announced that they will be donating 2 million dollars to New York City’s small business continuity fund. Uniqlo is providing healthcare workers with their signature Heattech and Airism clothing. Reformation will begin manufacturing masks not just for healthcare professionals but also grocery store associates and food delivery workers. To see more of the Coronavirus’ effects on the Fashion Industry and see what others are doing, head over and see brands like Ralph Lauren who are going above and beyond.

We know a lot of you are also making masks and for that, thank you! Wondering what you personally can do? Next week we’ll give you some ideas that we hope will inspire, won’t break the bank, and let you give back in your community.  In the meantime, head to our over Fearless Fashionpreneur Facebook Page for weekly fashion biz advice. Stay safe and stay healthy!


Fashion Consultant Christine Daal

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