As market shares fall in the face of Covid-19 and companies close to accommodate growing safety concerns over the virus, most businesses face the challenge or maintaining brand relevancy and staying afloat financially.
While this harsh reality continues to spiral downward in the background, brands are careful not to make this their headline during the throes of this world wide pandemic. Instead fashion brands in particular are showing their vital role in contributing to the prevention of this virus spreading. In fact it’s not only fashion brands that have to pause their latest marketing activity, its all lifestyle brands which includes travel, events, food, alcoholic beverages and technology.
One of the first “call to aid” messages most fashion houses and brands have done is to stop all manufacturing of garments in exchange for face masks. Face masks in the western world, unlike Asia, is not commonly worn on a daily basis. Face mask have only been worn hospitals and work places where hygiene is a priority.
Many hospitals are now in need of a variety of fabrics to produce drapes, sheets, bedding and scrubs as the infection rate spreads daily. Fashion houses are now instead producing these items, while most of its non-essential staff are now at home during nationwide lockdowns.
Other lifestyle industries such as car manufacturers are also using their plants to make more ventilators using their technology. All can play an vital role here.
All importing and exporting has stopped. No deliveries, no online shopping across international borders and most non-essential production has come to a halt. Before, we’d read the headlines of fashion brands going under or on the brink of bankruptcy. No brand has dared to put their failing positions on display during this time.
Fashion, like art, is a reflection of life. The two cannot exist without each other. While we might not gaze upon our clothes in a curated exhibition, the art form is alive with our daily lives with our bodies and state of mind as the platform.
Sustainable fashion has been here a long time and growing day by day. Ethical fashion and brand relevancy has also crept up as staples to being a brand leader to maintain current markets and gain new ones that clearly evolve by the month.
What you say right now in the wake of the Corona virus will impact your brand’s future…greatly.
Showing an active role and concern in playing your part in preventing the spread of Corvid and helping humanity trumps your need to meet profit margins.
The Customer Matters
Now more than ever the tables have turned and what customers think and feel in the time of vulnerability is key to possibly ‘coming back’ after a downfall caused by a catastrophic global event such as Corvid-19. Since the rise of fast fashion almost 20 years ago and its questionable production and quality standards that have affected global economies and the environment negatively, situations like these call for a real re-evaluation.
It’s clear that local manufacturing plays a very important role in the livelihood and sustainability of an economy especially when ‘life lines’ to save costs have been cut off. All countries have become independent, forcing us to look inside. This has been very evident with ‘social distancing’ which is not only aimed to reduce the spread of the virus between people, but also how we function as individuals. Right now there is plenty of room for innovation in how we use technology and what we need to contribute to change.
Closed off and closer
It’s true that while borders are closed, our favourite places have closed down temporarily that we are forced to become closer with what we have in front of us. All brands will have to re-define what value is all the way from retail chains to luxury brands. Fashion has become far too reliant on quick turnaround times and low manufacturing costs from the Far East, while as consumers we have become reliant on quick fixes and quick spending on items that we end up discarding with no thought in less than a year.
Once the Corvid-19 pandemic clears, how will we gear up to take fashion and shopping to the next phase? This will rely completely on businesses and us to help turn the economy around again. A part of me really hopes that when it comes to fashion, all countries will have a fair opportunity to contribute and compete globally.
So much messages on social media have been urging us to continue to support local businesses to help them stay afloat. Supporting local has always been an essential component of a strong economy, however the South African government has not done much to help local businesses survive even before the viral outbreak.
So many manufacturing plants have been shut down in South Africa while public transport remains a mess and many people with relevant skills to help build our local industries are unemployed. Right now, as the virus spreads daily we are already facing a shortage of gloves, masks, bedding and more that could have been sorted had we continued to grow the garment and other important industries here. South Africa’s tourism, food and beverage industries have always had strong positions and will most likely come back strong after this Corvid-19 crisis.
However, we can just rely on a few industries to carry us through. How we support and grow our local businesses needs to be properly integrated to ensure we are not too reliant on imports that limit our ability to sustain ourselves whether we are in a global crisis or not.