The fashion and apparel industry is a lucrative one. However, it is also one of the most impacted industries amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Will the industry continue to thrive in 2021? With the availability of the vaccine, many countries are hoping to achieve herd immunity by the end of 2021. But before that could happen, how would the fashion and apparel industry cope or continue to adapt to the new norm? Read on to find out!
The Rapid Growth of E-Commerce
In this “new normal” era, online shopping has become a new trend among consumers. Many physical stores were forced to close for many months, especially with the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO).
It was sad to see many physical shops temporarily closed because they didn’t seem able to absorb the losses and bounce back. But with e-commerce becoming the norm, many businesses started to shift toward e-commerce to sustain their business.
Increase in Sales of Comfortable Clothing
The pandemic has changed the way that many people live. Many of us shifted to remote work (also known as working from home), children shifted to online learning, and many public places were closed. People are spending more time at home nowadays.
According to Alibaba studies, there has been a significant increase in athleisure and loungewear sales. In March of last year, a 143% sales increase in pyjama sales was coupled with a 13% decrease in bra sales. People started to prioritise comfort right off the bat.
My personal experience with MCO 1.0 tells me that choosing comfortable clothes for working from home is better than fancy clothes. Because many businesses are still practising the work-from-home norm, it is possible that this trend will be around for a while longer.
Ethical and Sustainable Buying Behaviour
In recent years, many public figures have brought attention to social issues related to the fashion industry, especially when it comes to fast fashion.
People tend to buy more clothes than they need, especially fast fashion clothes, resulting in an increase of billions of tons of trash every year. According to RoadRunner, the volume of clothing that has been thrown away by Americans has doubled each year in the last 20 years, from seven million to 14 million tons.
To reduce waste, some people are leaning towards brands that either make high-quality, long-lasting products or use recycled materials to create their clothing. For example, H&M collected 20,649 tons of textiles for reuse and recycle in 2018.
In fact, many shoppers are now aware of the environmental issues caused by fast fashion, and prefer clothing that are of higher quality, long lasting and made of recyclable materials.
Fast Fashion? It will soon be replaced!
As mentioned earlier, the ethical implications in regard to sustainability is to promote slow fashion over fast fashion. Today, slow fashion has become a popular trend, and many brands with authority in the fashion industry are stepping up for change.
To initiate a change, major players in the fashion industry are taking effort to break away from seasonal releases of new styles and promote seasonless fashion instead. This is because seasonal releases of fashion encourage fast fashion. This is done by urging customers and fashion designers to create clothing that can remain in style for more than a couple of months. The outcome? Brands will start creating higher-quality clothing that can last multiple seasons.
It is an exciting upcoming trend, and more businesses in the industry are expected to follow the initiative soon.
The growth of “ReCommerce”
“ReCommerce” has become more popular over the past year. It refers to buying used clothes from a thrift store, consignment shop or directly from a seller on the internet.
What is Recommerce?
Recommerce (also known as Reverse Commerce) is the selling on the previously owned, new or used products (second hand) through physical or online distribution channels to buyers who repair (if necessary), reuse or recycle, and resell them.
Consumer-to-consumer marketplaces such as Mudah, Amazon, Facebook, etc. have certainly facilitated the “ReCommerce” trend. The trend has encouraged a shift towards eco-friendly buying and waste reduction. Moreover, upcycling and repurposing vintage pieces are also on the rise.
Upcycling means revamping clothing to match the style the person likes. It can involve dying, cutting, and sewing the clothes to make it appear new. Another major appeal of ReCommerce for consumers is that they can get gently used clothing for a fraction of the retail price.
Payment plans become available
Many retailers are now offering consumers the option to make after-purchase payments. For example, a customer can buy an RM300 item and pay only RM50 at the time of purchase. He can then make installment payment for the balance over the next three months.
The “Buy Now, Pay Later” (BNPL) approach allows consumers to spend money that they do not necessarily have. This started among lower-end fashion brands, and it is now extending to the designer and luxury clothing space.
The Bottom Line
The fashion and apparel industry has seen interesting developments and changes over the past few years. The driving forces that drive the industry are, no doubt, the emergence of new technology, a shift towards ethical consumption and the global pandemic are driving the industry.
Understanding the trend is of the utmost importance when it comes to creating business plans, setting goals and achieving them.
How to Kick Start?
If you’re looking to grow your wholesale clothing business or break into foreign markets, Alibaba.com is the perfect place to make that happen. Our platform has over 14 million active buyers, so you should have no trouble finding people who are ready to order your garments.