A future look at the fashion industry

The industry is considered “particularly vulnerable” and ripe for change

In early April, McKinsey & Company sounded the alarm for the fashion industry. In a special coronavirus update to the 2020 installment of its annual report, The State of Fashion, the status went from high alert to red.

From the report, a joint effort of McKinsey and The Business of Fashion: “If stores remain closed for two months, McKinsey analysis approximates that 80 percent of publicly listed fashion companies in Europe and North America will be in financial distress.”

The industry is “particularly vulnerable” due to its discretionary nature. The report highlights five key areas that could be affected by the outbreak: survival instincts in the global economy; a discount mindset among consumers; digital escalation due to physical distancing; a “Darwinian” shakeout in the fashion system; and an imperative for innovative tools and strategies across the value chain to future-proof their business models.

And yet, fashion has a way of coming back around. Creative minds often find a way to adapt. Vogue Business reports a spike in upcycling, resale and increased consumption of DIY clothing supplies. Some brands are making the most of it. Alexander McQueen, Dior and Ganni have begun using Instagram tutorials or challenges to spark consumers’ creativity. And to tap into younger consumers’ desire for unique, ethical apparel, brands including A-Cold-Wall and Dickies are offering fabric or hardware that allows consumers to make their own branded clothing at home.

Depop, a fashion marketplace app with 15 million registered users in 126 countries, includes a large proportion of customized, upcycled or reconstructed items as part of its mission to make fashion more inclusive and diverse, and less wasteful. According to Depop’s own website: “This is what transforming fashion looks like.”

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