These days, in the midst of a great debate on the future of the sector, there are many questions asked by the managers of large companies. They must adapt to the situation we live in, both in the short and long term, and rethink their strategy for the future.
Fashion will always be a way of expressing self identity. But there are some signs – in favor of sustainability and to the detriment of fast fashion – that may change the landscape of this industry and our consumption habits in the near future.
Stores after confinement
With the start of the de-escalation, some of the largest companies are already reopening their stores and face the challenge of ensuring the health of their employees and customers.
The first decisions to be made will be related to the preparation of stores for reopening to the public: hygiene measures in fitting rooms, packaging, cleaning of clothes, payment methods, etc. Also, although a good part of the spring / summer collection is already lost, they will need to give way to the huge stocks through promotions and discounts.
Effort to recover the rhythm of the supply chain, promoting the joint work of suppliers and commercial partners, is also a priority. This was expressed by Mustafá Gultepe, president of the Turkish Textile Industry Association, which employs 2 million people, who asks to flexibly negotiate orders and payments.
Medium and long-term strategies
At a strategic level, it is interesting to know where the deepest reflections of the sector are focused and what aspects are considered by the industry as opportunities for change and improvement. We will be able to observe their movements in the coming months.
First, the current situation affects the very existence or size of the companies. Some will have to inexorably close. Others must adjust their expenses and investments to streamline the sourcing processes –provision and purchase of materials, etc.– and the design and reduction of stocks. The trend is to increase local production.
Furthermore, the restructuring of the retail network will inevitably lead to 100% digital transformation. The increase in electronic commerce –with the improvement of logistics processes through robotization and artificial intelligence– and the change in the role of the physical store will be other changes that we will see soon.
There is a glimpse of the imminent closure of quite a few small stores in favor of larger ones: the flagship stores. These provide the customer with a 360% experience through omnichannel, that is, interaction through different channels, both physically and online.
As we pointed out at the beginning, one of the most questioned topics continues to be the socio-environmental impact of fast fashion through its production processes.
Although the strategy of the main fashion giants will have to be closely followed, many of its managers point out the main objectives of the need to continue working for the traceability of the supply chain, the effort to reduce waste to reach zero waste) and the transformation of design, production and recycling processes towards circularity.
The new consumer
Faced with a scenario like the one described, more and more consumers are wondering if another fashion is possible and if a new way of relating to clothing is possible in the future.
Among the alternatives that not a few brands have begun to offer their clients are quality production that increases the durability of the garments –according to Toni Ruiz, Mango CEO-, various possibilities for co-creation, customization, and clothing rental , etc.
Marketing departments should also transform their strategies so as not to focus so much on “I am going to sell you” as well as “I am going to listen and understand you”. People will demand less pressure and more attention.
This need to improve listening to employees and customers will test fashion companies, which will better understand how they are perceived by their public and will question their ability to adapt to these requirements.
On the other hand, some retailers (retailers), such as Pepe Jeans, are convinced that the world of comfort in which countries live will change in favor of more responsible and selective consumption that reduces overproduction and focuses on people, increasing services.
Others, on the other hand, think that it is probable that we will buy back in a massive way, something that will be especially favored by the price war that will surely unleash at the end of the confinement.
In short, the industry is experiencing an opportunity for creative change to offer new values and services to its customers, relaunching the essence and purpose of each brand in connection with the stated strategic objectives.
For their part, consumers have the opportunity to reflect on their consumption habits and lifestyle and to study the proposals offered by brands.
But what no one can question anymore is that the sector needs a deep reset, in line with the new sensitivity towards people and the planet included in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Fashion will continue to exist as a means of expression and relationship with our environment, but the crisis of these months will lead to exploring new paths by everyone.
Fuente: The Conversation