The impact of the COVID-19 crisis
The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus shut down the entire fashion industry. Retailers had to close their stores, suppliers of raw materials had to stop their production and factories had to (partly) close their doors. If that’s not bad enough, we’re facing a deadly production and selling squeeze. Suppliers can’t keep up, and brands are already putting their spring/summer collections on sale, even before the natural season kicks off. And autumn/winter collections are launched during the hottest month of the year. If we don’t take action, the industry will continue its unnatural and unnecessary deadlines. This has many consequences. Consumers are left puzzled, being pushed to buy their winter jackets in sale in autumn. Retailers and brands are obliged to join the sale madness way too soon, collectively losing a lot of essential profit. It also puts immense pressure on the supply chain. Now entire production chains are shut down due to the COVID-19 virus. Suppliers even have to speed up their production and retailers have to sell their collections even faster.
This uncertainty causes a lot of panic everywhere, and we get that. But reacting that way pushes suppliers, retailers, consumers and ourselves over the edge. We must push the brakes and stay calm to keep our market as healthy as possible. But how? Let’s discuss some things brands (and retailers) can immediately start doing.
Don’t cancel orders, spread deliveries and pressure
Avoid cancellations of orders if possible. Spread your deliveries and help each other forward instead. Every choice we make has consequences. Cancelling orders puts enormous pressure on the garment workers and suppliers behind the chain.
Stay close with your suppliers
Stay in open communication with your suppliers or brands on the effect of the crisis; production/planning wise, the impact on the workers and financially. The only way we can get through this is together. Stop focusing on profit. Start thinking about surviving is the main target for us as brands.
Don’t be afraid to follow the natural season
Move deadlines for current orders into a manageable time path and move the season forward. Don’t launch your autumn/winter collection before September. No need for that at all, especially these days. Give suppliers, retailers and yourself time to breathe.
Try to avoid an early sale season
Also, try to avoid an early sale season as much as possible. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, there’s no time left to sell products for full prices if we continue our regular routine. Postponing sale season will allow brands and retailers to sell their collections at the normal prices to stay healthy as a company. Or totally quit with the sale, as we did!
How to get involved
If we want true system change, we need to collectively take a stand against the fast-paced industry that’s no good for anyone. We have to push the brakes and keep our responsibility of the supply chain in mind at all times. So we’re kindly asking all brands, suppliers, retailers, agents, fairs and other organisations: give a damn, stay calm and reset the system with us.
“We know that the situation caused by COVID-19 is affecting everybody. It is hitting the people and the business. We want to be closer than ever to all the denim industry people. Leaders and normal workers all around the world. We know that we have to do our part even better and stronger than before. We must respect the planet. With our collection, choosing trends and developing our taste to match fashion needs, we are going forward in our mission. So our message is simple. Be more sustainable, and this will benefit everybody. Sustainability is an opportunity. It’s not a limit.”
- Onur Duru, Bossa -
“Because the problem now affects the health of Western people, hard measures are finally taken. If something happens far abroad, not much is done usually. This crisis exposes all problems worldwide, and this is the right time to look in the mirror collectively. Everyone has to ask themselves: do I take good care of both myself and others? Do I make choices that are conscious enough to not cause any negative consequences to others, both short term and long term? Every organisation has to take full responsibility for People, Planet and Profit.”
- Daan Broekman, de Rode Winkel -
"It is clear that this crisis is hitting the garment industry exceptionally hard. Employers and employees on both sides of the production chain have to deal with grave consequences. We want to put the spotlight on the thousands of garment workers who face multiple challenges, with an increased risk of infection, loss of income, and lack of social security. And we call on brands to put these workers central stage when taking decisions. Above all, we want to call on brands, in this time of crisis, to invest in dialogue with their suppliers. Create joint insights on the joint challenges faced and try to find common solutions out of solidarity, but also in order to safeguard the long-term vitality of your production."
- CNV -
“I am writing this post as a call to action to big retailers and brands to save lives! Retailers and Brands are recklessly cancelling orders, in many cases already partially produced, to save your bottom lines as far as possible. You have no concern about what this does to poor suppliers and their workers who have no buffers or government relief programs. I urge you to take a step back and think about what it means when you cancel orders and income for people who, in many cases, earn less than 150 USD / month. I am ashamed of the industry I am in. Now more than ever, it’s time for you to live up to the self-proclamation of being an ethical and socially conscious company."
- Cristina Oliveira, Erius -
“Everyone is talking about the upcoming early high summer deliveries. Now it’s going to be naturally happening. Because all the fabric suppliers are closed, we can now send the high summer styles not in June but in July, August or September. So the system change is going to be naturally happening (…) Let’s keep open communication. Brands might need help. We might need help. Let’s find a way to continue the business together.“
- Uraz Batur, SARP jeans -
“This crisis exposes workers' vulnerability in this fragmented, global value chain. And it also shows how interdependent we are: when business picks up again, many of the factories that brands rely on may well be out of business. So, there is a human as well as a business imperative for the industry to embrace a New Normal, in which fair prices and living wages are the norms.”
- Fair Wear Foundation -
Commitment to our workers
Kuyichi hereby publicly assures that we are constantly assessing the negative impact the Covid-19 pandemic can have on our direct suppliers and all their workers. If suppliers are unable or unwilling to pay the legally mandated or regular wages and benefits, whichever is higher. In that case Kuyichi will take the needed actions to protect the social security of the workers. We will contribute where needed to ensure that, when combined with other support provided to workers by employers, local governments, and international institutions, workers have income equal to or greater than the amount they received prior to the crisis. In doing so we act upon our responsibility to prevent and mitigate adverse human rights impacts in our supply chains and to provide for or cooperate in the remediation of harm. Through the Covid-19 pandemic, Kuyichi will only strengthen its relationships with its suppliers and will continue working on improving working conditions and social security in collaboration with these suppliers.