Let’s hit the brakes
and fix the fashion industry for good
Fashion already went too fast for the earth to keep up and the current crisis, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, is pushing us all over the edge. Entire supply chains are shut down and collections aren’t sold. The pressure on brands, suppliers and retailers is heavier than ever, yet nothing seems to change. Future deadlines stay the same and if we don’t do anything, the rat race to the bottom will create a deadly squeeze for everyone. We can’t keep up anymore. Things have to change in our industry to create a fair system for everyone. We’ll tell you why.
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 in 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 jacket in sale in autumn. Retailers and brands are obliged to join the sale madness way too soon, collectively losing a lot of essential profit over it. It also puts immense pressure on the supply chain. Now entire production chains are shut down due to the COVID-19 virus, suppliers have to even speed up their production and retailers have to sell their collection even faster.
This uncertainty causes a lot of panic everywhere and we get that. But reacting that way pushes suppliers, retailers, consumer and ourselves over the edge. We need to push the brakes and stay calm to keep our market as healthy as possible. But how?
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 an enormous amount of 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 effect 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 normally if we continue our normal routine. Postponing sale season will give brands and retailers the opportunity to sell their collection at normal price in order to stay healthy as a company.
The power is in the chain – we’re in this together
But that’s not all. If we really want to create a stable and fair system in which we can survive together, the industry has to realise that the power is in the chain. The supply chain works both ways and every part of the chain is dependent of another. The more we work together, the stronger the chain will become. For brands this means that they have to take responsibility by digging deeper into their own supply chain and learn about the risks and priorities. So when a crisis like this comes up, they will know how to act in the way that is best for everyone. Every single garment is created through a lot of energy and hard work by many people who are dependent of our choices. Not only suppliers, but also brands have to take responsibility for topics like lead times and ethical working conditions at their suppliers. Every decision we make as a brand has an effect deeper down the chain. We have to keep making them consciously, no matter what the situation is.
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. 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 have to push the brakes and keep our responsibility of the supply chain in mind at all times.
We can fix the industry.
We’re in this together.
Let’s not forget that.
We’re in this together
“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 are having 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 whom have no buffers or government relief programs. I urge you to take a step back and think what it means when you cancel orders and income for people whom 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 how vulnerable workers are 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 norm.” - Fair Wear Foundation
How Kuyichi copes with the COVID-19 situation
Everyone is affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. We are, too. We do notice some benefits of the change in the way we started doing business back in 2016. Our brand is based on a strong focus on seasonless collections and never out of stock styles. We are lucky enough to not have to worry about the upcoming sale season, since we stopped putting our products in sale. We are a healthy company. But still, everyone around us is struggling and so are we.
We are in close contact with both our retailers and our suppliers to take joint decisions to get through it together. With our suppliers we are looking at spreading productions and payments to keep the money flow feasible for everyone. With our retailers we’re busy looking how we meet in the middle, postponing deliveries and spreading out payments over time.We have to support each other in any way - now and in the future - to get through this and change this industry for the better. The current crisis exposes our vulnerabilities, it's time for everyone to see that we're all co-dependent and take responsibility not only for ourselves, but also for others.