How the fashion industry zigged when the world zagged
The fashion industry. A once booming multi-billion-dollar empire has been shaken to its core and is now facing the inevitable consequences of COVID-19. Clientele loss, distribution delays, and a serious plummet in sales have sent the creative community into a tailspin. We, as consumers, feel a strange connection as we observe that indeed, we are all going through this together on a global level.
Yet, in light of all the world’s chaos, the fashion industry is pivoting and using this moment as inspiration instead of losing hope.
Sustainability in light of financial strains has become a focal point and how the community as a whole can work to reduce waste and rework distribution. American Vogue’s Editor in Chief, Anna Wintour, shared with Naomi Campbell on her YouTube program No Filter with Naomi, “I feel very strongly that when we come out at the other end, people’s values are really going to have shifted… The industry needs to slow down and for people to enjoy it much more without always looking for the next new thing,” she adds.
This has led to conversations between the fashion industry and digital platforms to increase creativity in how retailers and designers create and market their products. A revamp of how the fashion world operated in the days before COVID.
Before the days of COVID-19, 80% of transactions were done in-store, but now online retail has become the source of income for designers and distributors. Advertising budgets have been reduced, and influencers have morphed into the new runway model. Platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook have become the new brick and mortar, with influencers posting tips, tricks, and styling guides highlighting certain pieces and accessories on a daily basis.
Think about that. A large influencer (or macro-influencer), for example, has between 100,000 to 1 million followers – that equals major visibility and presence. According to Mediakix, “80% of marketers find influencer marketing effective.” This is a large reason why the fashion industry has shifted focus from stores and invested in super celebrities and large influencers to push products.
Another trend is the use of technology for sales and product placement. Marketers are curating sensational video ads illustrating the movement and versatility of the pieces in lieu of the traditional runway shows, which have for the most part been effectively cancelled.
Chanel has been a leading influence in this venture, as the fashion house has produced cinematic ads showcasing its collections via super models and actors. In essence, a story is being created around couture, leaving the consumer free to daydream about the alluring and whimsical video.
In conjunction, fashion shows have morphed to a virtual platform, effectively boosting views for the designer and his or her collection. Marketers and creators alike made it a mission to captivate audiences with bolder and over the top production.
With this virtual shift, more people are now able to view and experience haute couture on a massive level instead of the traditional exclusivity we are all accustomed to. A fantastic designer to reference for showmanship and design is Dries van Noten, with his beautifully curated shows.
As we watch the latest fashion trends from afar, we see that designers have also used this opportunity to express themselves and how they see the pandemic through color and shape. Simplicity and elegance have been a main staple on the runway – as designers absorb the new, natural movement and embrace colors that are less trendy.
Longevity of the pieces has also been prominent amongst the fashion community so consumers can mix and match with ease now that we are all socially distanced and have no where to go. Whether through story or lovely cascading layers of fabric, these visionaries hide little nods to the days of old – meshing classic cuts with expressive variations.
Even though the fashion industry has taken a massive hit since February 2020, creatives have found a way to reenergize the space and move forward instead of backward. Each of us serves as the new muse, as our everyday life serves as inspiration during COVID-19. One thing is clear, you cannot keep visionaries down, especially when they zig as the world zags.