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3 Ways The Fashion Industry Will Change Forever

 

Table Of Contents

1.0 Surviving the Crisis as an industry

2.0 Poor inventory management, bad record on climate, workers rights/conditions, rife industry for change

3.0 Accelerated trends away from brick and mortar retail and increased E-Commerce Sales

4.0  Less Fast Fashion, Less inventory in general

5.0 The Time for Sustainable Fashion is NOW

6.0 Conclusion

7.0 Sources

 

 

 

1.0 Surviving the Crisis as an industry

 

For the fashion industry, right now......it's about survival. 

 

In March 2020, global clothing sales crashed by 34%. As we are writing this now, April numbers are still not in, but it's safe to say that trends are so far, remaining constant. 

Or worse.  For most of us, this is a time of unprecedented uncertainty in our lives, and in addition to saving as much as we can now, we are unlikely to make expensive luxurious purchases.  Fashion, especially designer clothes, fit in that category. 

 

Even if we could afford it, what's the point?  It's hard to dress up when there's no where to go. And no one to see. Pair that with an economic contraction and unemployment rate not seen since the Great Depression and it's even harder to buy new clothes.  

 

2.0 Poor inventory management, bad record on climate, workers rights/conditions, rife industry for change

 

The truth is, before the pandemic, things were already bad for the fashion industry.  Around the world, E-commerce was and is continuing to undermine traditional brick and mortar stores.  An excess of inventory was causing many companies, such as H&M, Nike and Burberry, to BURN their excess clothing rather than sell it at mark down prices.  Burberry for example, burned over $37 million in excess and unsold product in 2017. 

 

Isn't that the ultimate slap in the face to the millions of garment worker's in developing countries working for paltry wages in poor working conditions?

 

And similarly, it is those same garment worker's who have been laid off by the hundreds of thousands since the crisis began.  In Bangladesh, at least 1 million workers in the garment industry have been furloughed or laid off, and that number could spike to over 2 million when the pandemic ends.  

 

Ironically enough, as many of us have more time than ever to catch up on sleep, it is WOKE CULTURE that recognizes that the fashion industry needs to change at a fundamental level.    

 

It's been brewing for quite some time now.  So many within the industry, including famous designers, sponsors, and celebrities are so progressive, so liberal, and champions of fair wages, workers rights, women's rights, and minority rights. 

 

The fashion industry, historically speaking, has done just about everything to undermine those set of values. 

 

Those laid off workers in Bangladesh? Mostly women. Globally, 80% of all garment worker's are women.  Many who labor in sewing and garment factories around the world are of people of color. 

 

And with profit margins on luxury brands between 40-60% (and so high, apparently, that burning brand new clothes is more profitable than selling at a discount), it is apparently that nearly ALL are overworked and underpaid. 

 

The dirty secrets of the industry are now an OPEN secret, and to close your eyes today is to be willfully ignorant.

 

The levee's were already starting to break before the crisis.  

 

But now, the streets are already look like Venice.  The question is, when the dust settles, will the fashion industry return to the old times?

 

We. Hope. Not. 

 

It's time for a change of clothes. And it's time for a sustainable fashion revolution. Are you with us?

 

Here are 3 ways the fashion industry will change....forever.

 

 

3.0 Accelerated trends away from brick and mortar retail and increased E-Commerce Sales

 

This part isn't about values and ethics, it's just about the evolving consumer tastes that includes just about every industry moving online.  

 

Of course, the underling premise has been similar across all industries - saving on overhead including staff and rent as well as better logistics and inventory management.

 

As any buyer knows, there are really only two things to evaluate: price and quality.  Traditionally, fashion has been the one industry that it's been so hard to evaluate the quality WITHOUT seeing the merchandise in person because it is so variable.  Similarly, we want to see how it will look on us! 

 

Even today, 80% of all transactions in fashion occur in brick and mortar retail sales, and E-commerce is still growing and emerging trend for this reason. 

 

However, times are finally changing for the fashion industry as this crisis has forced people to shop for EVERYTHING ONLINE.  The consumer trends and norms that started with products with virtually no product quality variability  (remember Amazon books?) have now permeated and will continue to involve virtually every industry.  Fashion will be no exception.  

 

Apps, such as custom tailoring apps (M-Tailor is a great example), are helping consumers create a virtual dressing room that fits with 90-95% accuracy.  There are also better size fitting tools. Additionally, E-commerce retailers have gotten smarter and are offering a simplified return policy that is as or even more flexible and accommodating as traditional retailers.  

 

 4.0  Less Fast Fashion, Less inventory in general

 

Fast fashion is one of the biggest polluters on the planet, responsible for 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions. 

 

It is undoubtably one of the dirtiest industries in the world, polluting our air with toxic emissions, our water through toxic chemicals and dyes, and our land through millions of tons of unsold items or barely worn items that go to landfill each year. 

 

According to the Balance: Small Business Textile and Garment Recycling Facts and Figures,

 

"More than 15 million tons of used textile waste is generated each year in the United States, and the amount has doubled over the last 20 years.

Similarly, "The average person buys 60 percent more items of clothing every year and keeps them for about half as long as 15 years ago, generating a huge amount of waste."

 

This crisis has created losses of billions of dollars due to unsold inventory in the fashion industry around the world.  The good news is, the old inventory management model may no longer apply as it did in the past.

 

Why?

 

The reality is, fast fashion has gotten so prolific that the fashion industry already had an inventory problem. The industry has had a long history, spanning decades, of overbuying inventory and under delivering results.  The end result was often a fat margin that ended up razor thin at the end of the quarter or year.

 


"The problem is the way apparel is sourced and the priorities of operations teams dictating those purchases, which leads to overbuying, argued John Thorbeck, chairman of Chainge Capital, which specializes in lead-time optimization, at the Sourcing Journal Summit earlier this year. The result is markdowns.

 

"What other industry starts with a 65-70% initial margin and ends up at one or two? That’s the cost of uncertainty. How has this industry dealt with this for fifty years or longer? It’s finding what that cushion is in sourcing and cheaper and cheaper countries," Thorbeck said.

 

Like other industries in the past with a history of poor management and continually minor returns, the fashion industry is rife for disruption. 

 

As more sales come through E-commerce, there will be more data and better logistics, inventory management, and decision making that will reduce the need for excess inventory. At the minimum, we will see less inventory in the near future, and those trends are likely to stay permanent.  

 

5.0 The Time for Sustainable Fashion is NOW

 

As mentioned previously, the proponents of fashion in general today are increasingly conscious and progressive.  They are turned off by both the environmental waste and equally turned off by the treatment and pay of workers. 

 

Sustainable and Eco-conscious fashion takes both of these elements in account.  Similar to inventory management, these issues are NOT new, and it's surprising that they haven't risen to the mainstream.

 

Now, could be the perfect opportunity.   All companies can be more sustainable simply through better inventory management, which will produce less waste. Similarly, since ALL consumer's lives have been disrupted, it's also an excellent opportunity to change consumer behavior in a positive way. 

 

Recycled polyester, rather than traditional polyester, can be made directly from PET plastic water bottles (like two of our featured brands, Yogavated and Yoga Democracy), as well as other renewable fibers like organic cotton, organic bamboo, hemp, and wool.  There are also many synthetic sustainable fibers also available.  The costs have already come down significantly for these fibers and they will continue to go down as demand increases.  

 

All of the brands at L'Aquila Active aren't just about the environment, of course.  In addition to being sustainable, all brands place a strong emphasis on fair workplace practices and fair wages.  Many brands are produced domestically in the U.S. and are also internationally certified by organization such as The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). 

 

GOTS is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibers, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain.

 

 6.0 Conclusion:

 

Right now, the fashion industry is going through, like many of us, a "dark night of the soul."  Through decades of mismanagement, this industry has become ever more wasteful, both in poor inventory management as well as unsustainable production and business practices. 

 

The end result has been one of the world's dirtiest industries, ironically championed and endorsed by famous individuals whom almost all claim to care deeply about the very things the fashion industry has decimated - particularly our environment. 

However, on the other side of this, there is a faint glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.   There is an opportunity to get rid of fast fashion, once and for all and minimize endless waste caused by overproduction and inventory mismanagement. 

 

There is the best opportunity in decades to completely transform an industry that was already dying, into something that is sustainable for our planet and socially responsible for its workers, domestically and internationally.

 

Ultimately, however, it is always up to the consumer.  When the dust finally settles....will you settle?

 

Or will you demand change?

 

 

7.0 Sources

 

https://www.supplychaindive.com/news/poor-inventory-management-weighs-down-the-apparel-industry/569258/

https://www.global-standard.org/the-standard/general-description.html

 

https://www.just-style.com/news/distressed-us-apparel-retailers-face-surge-in-defaults_id138688.aspx

https://www.thebalancesmb.com/textile-recycling-facts-and-figures-2878122

https://cleanclothes.org/issues/gender

https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/22/business/bangladesh-garment-factories/index.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/amp/entertainment-arts-52394504

https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2020/apr/22/lockdown-fashion-wakeup-call-coronavirus-lockdown

https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/intelligence/the-state-of-fashion-2020-coronavirus-update-bof-mckinsey-report-release-download

https://www.elevatelimited.com/insights/achieving-zero-waste-in-the-fashion-system/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jonbird1/2018/09/09/fashions-dirty-little-secret-and-how-its-coming-clean/#9599e981771f

https://www.voguebusiness.com/sustainability/fashion-waste-problem-fabrics-deadstock-pashko-burberry-reformation

https://www.mytotalretail.com/post/managing-inventory-in-the-age-of-coronavirus/

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/D5EgNGnWAAAVDKA.png

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-qx0FzmYebtYmk4uPD21GAntTtAUb3SuMjU2_OH7rU5S0-bAo0mtCq_moIIsU248fQei1ubSO4LXHQ_2WFAF4aUG2mx5H5QR4PPIzWyiLqBX0C6JDcm32_CX0jbQjQK7zM9kZeUl

https://res.cloudinary.com/ndc-images/image/upload/f_auto,fl_force_strip.preserve_transparency.progressive.sanitize,q_auto:best/media/wysiwyg/ndc/blog/slowfashion/quote-from-vivienne-westwood-supporting-slow-fashion.jpg

https://www.shiftlondon.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/F

 

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