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This story originally appeared in The Conversation
By Elisa Regadera González, Professor of Fashion Communication, Trends and Sustainability, International University of Catalonia
After weeks of detention, the Fashion Revolution Week was celebrated in many countries in April. This movement emerged after the Rana Plaza building collapsed in Bangladesh in 2013 (1,134 people died and more than 2,500 were injured) to promote major social and environmental changes in the fashion industry.
These days, amid a big debate about the future of the sector, the managers of large companies are asking a lot of questions. They have to adapt to the situation we live in in the short and long term and rethink their strategy for the future.
Fashion will always be an expression of your own identity. However, there are some signs – in favor of sustainability and to the detriment of fast fashion– that the prospects for this industry and our consumption habits could change in the near future.
Business after childbirth
With the start of de-escalation, some of the largest companies are reopening their businesses and facing the challenge of ensuring the health of their employees and customers.
The first decisions to be made relate to preparing shops for reopening for the public: hygiene measures in changing rooms, packaging, cleaning clothes, payment methods, etc. Even if a large part of the spring / summer collection has already been lost, you must do so Huge soft shares through promotions and sales.
The effort to restore the rhythm of the supply chain and to promote the joint work of suppliers and trading partners is also a priority. This was expressed by Mustafá Gultepe, President of the Turkish Association of the Textile Industry, which employs 2 million people and asks to be able to negotiate orders and payments flexibly.
Medium and long term strategies
At a strategic level, it is interesting to know where the deepest reflections of the sector are concentrated and which aspects the industry sees as opportunities for change and improvement. We will be able to see their movements in the coming months.
First, the current situation affects the existence or size of companies. Some have to close inexorably. Others should adjust their spending and investments to streamline the processes of procurement – Provision and purchase of materials etc. – and design and reduction of shares. The trend is towards increasing local production.
In addition, the restructuring of the retail network will inevitably lead to a 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 physical business will be further changes that we will see soon.
The impending closure of some small stores in favor of larger ones is on the horizon: Flagship stores or flagship stores. These offer the customer a 360% experience through omnichannel, ie interaction via different channels, both physically and on-line.
The flagship stores are the most representative stores of a brand / Image: Thinkretail / Flickr, CC BY-NC
As we emphasized at the beginning and explained by Bick and his co-authors, one of the most questioned problems remains the socio-ecological impact of the fast fashion through its production processes.
Although the strategy of the major fashion giants needs to be followed closely, many of their managers point out the main objectives of the need to continue working on the traceability of the supply chain and efforts to reduce waste Zero waste) and the transformation of design, production and recycling processes towards circularity.
The new consumer
Given a scenario like the one described, more and more consumers are wondering whether a different fashion is possible and whether a new type of relationship with clothing will be possible in the future.
The alternatives that quite a few brands offer their customers include quality production that increases the durability of the garments – according to Toni Ruiz, CEO of Mango – various options for the joint creation, adaptation and rental of clothing, etc.
The departments of marketing They also need to change their strategies so they don’t focus so much on “I’ll sell you” as on “I’ll listen and understand you”. People will demand less pressure and more attention, as Jaume Miquel, President and CEO of the Tendam Group, said in an interview recently.
This need to improve employee and customer listening will test fashion companies that understand better how they are perceived by the public and challenge their ability to adapt to these needs.
On the other hand, some Retailers (Retailers) like Pepe Jeans are convinced that the world of comfort in which we live in the northern countries will change in favor of more responsible and more selective consumption that reduces overproduction and focuses on people and increases services.
Others, like Desigual, instead think that it is likely that we will buy back massively, which is particularly favored by the price war, which will certainly unleash at the end of the detention.
In short, the industry has the ability to change creatively to offer its customers new values and services and to revitalize the essence and purpose of each brand in relation to the strategic goals set.
For their part, consumers have the opportunity to think about their consumption habits and lifestyle and to study the brands’ suggestions.
But what no one can question is that the sector needs one reset to default profoundly in line with the new sensitivity to people and the planet contained 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 everyone to break new ground.
This article is republished by The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.