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. Or totally quit with sale, like we did!