COVID-19 has had a crippling consequence on societies and individuals across the globe. It has simultaneously exposed the social, economic and political inequality that runs deep within institutions such as the healthcare and education system, and altered the course of everyday life. Industries such as Tourism, Leisure and Retail have also felt the wrath of this invisible killer. But how exactly has the Fashion industry fared during these turbulent times?
It is without doubt the retail sector has suffered a huge deal. With the world in lockdown for the past 3 months, high street stores were forced to close business and grind to a halt on production and shipping. But now that restrictions are slowly easing, and more retailers are opening back up again, the industry will attempt to dust itself off and come back fighting. But it is clear the brutal effects of COVID-19 have and will continue to haunt them for some time as they are predicted to shrink by 23% in 2020.
The financial blow retailers such as Monsoon Accessorise and Oasis have suffered from store closures, staff redundancies and bankruptcy have prompted many retailers to team up with other businesses in attempts to avoid this unfortunate fate. Now businesses are trying to figure out alternative ways to bounce back since factories across the globe are unable to run as before.
But while fast fashion retailers continue to face the harsh realities of the ‘COVID retail slump’ online secondhand faces a different reality - instead experiencing the ‘COVID retail boom’. Unlike fast fashion retailers, COVID-19 has positively impacted online secondhand as it's projected to grow by 27% in 2020, reaching a market value of £50+ billion within 5 years according to online thrift store ThredUp.
This is due to the economic and social constraints that have been imposed upon consumers whom have had no choice but to adapt to the changes. The shift in shopping and consumption habits mirrors the shift in societal norms as people may be more reluctant to spend their time and money waiting in endless queues. Instead, shoppers are now shopping ‘smarter’ by resorting to online marketplaces with cheaper prices, leaving mass market retailers with no choice but to produce fewer collections and ‘fast fashion’ items.
It is clear the global health crisis has weakened the fast fashion industry, but experts believe this outcome was inevitable even before the pandemic stroke. There had already been an increasing rise in demand for e-commerce and resale, which COVID-19 has now exposed. Consumers of all ages are increasingly becoming ‘eco- savvy’ and are rightly implementing sustainable practices into their daily lives, which has had a ripple effect on their shopping habits. Because more are drawing towards eco-friendly and affordable retailers, Environmentalists will be pleased to know the resale sector is projected to surpass the success of 'fast retail' that is currently paralysed by the pandemic.
Despite its negative effect, COVID-19 has been a catalyst for individuals to address the social, economic and environmental problems head on and evaluate their lifestyle, choices and values. Through this, we can aim to collectively work towards a sustainable and equal society.
Link to ThredUp report: https://www.thredup.com/resale/