This year will be less about survival and more about making the necessary changes to thrive....
Last year was the worst on record for fashion, but that could be the push that industry needs to embrace change. The future of fashion is online, contactless and sustainable, and now is the perfect time to prepare.
With brick and mortar stores closed and travel restricted for large parts of the year, brands had to react quickly to sudden changes to regulation, shopping habits, anfd consumer demands in 2020.
According to McKinsey’s The State of Fashion 2021 report, online sales jumped by 15% in 2020, with offline sales falling by the same margin. For those with an established online presence, this has helped to offset some of the damage caused by Covid-19. Luxury fashion group Kering, for instance, saw its share of online revenues double while stores were shuttered.
Others, however, have been less fortunate. As stores reopened, those in the made-to-measure space continued to struggle. Even as restrictions were eased during the summer, revenues on London’s famed Savile Row were estimated to be down 85% due to lingering fears and disappointing footfall.
As brands fought to survive, there was also the challenge of keeping up with rapidly changing consumer demands. According to OnBuy, 75% consumers claimed they are more uncomfortable visiting fashion stores than any other type of retailer, ensuring safety was and remains paramount.
Other industry trends have been accelerated too. The pandemic has stressed the need to improve our health and, subsequently, our environment. Consumers care about the environmental crisis now more than ever – more than half of young consumers plan to buy higher-quality garments that last longer to reduce their impact, which could spell trouble for fast fashion.
There’s no denying that 2020 was bleak, but the pandemic doesn’t have to be a disaster for fashion. It could be the push that fashion needs to prepare itself for the future.
McKinsey estimates that fashion industry profits should return to 2019 levels by the end of 2023 — but first, businesses must learn and adapt.
Digitalization has been a buzzword for decades, but in 2021 it’s truly a matter of now or never. Online sales rocketed last year and are expected to remain high in key geographies such as the US, Europe, and China.
Consumer behavior is likely to have been permanently altered too. Whether due to health concerns or that we’ve simply grown used to staying at home, robust online shopping experiences will be important to survival and growth in fashion in 2021.
As more of the Gen Z demographic reaches consumer age, online sales will continue to grow. According to Accenture, 40% of Gen Z make more than 50% of their apparel purchases online.