The pandemic has had a deep impact on fashion and the art of dressing up. As much of the world shelters at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, pyjamas are undoubtedly becoming the new fashion trendsetter of the time, masks have become prominent to most wardrobes, and gloves seem next on the list.
The coronavirus has brought the world to a standstill as we've only seen in apocalyptic movies before, but it is impossible to disregard the profound effects it is having on industries such as fashion either. Though there has been an undeniable fall in purchasing power and a change in buying habits, perhaps the most visible change the pandemic has triggered in fashion has been in the form of trends and new movements.
It is all about “home fashion"
Now that we are almost solely spending time at home and have embraced the home office life, it is comforting to say sitting at your desk in a restricting suit, or belly-cutting jeans has been forsaken for all things comfy. Clearly cognizant of this preference, fashion and retail brands have been launching collection, all endowed to our new way of life. Also, owing to the rise of videoconferencing and Zoom calls, we have seen a mullet-like approach in our regular outfits. Rather than “business in the front, party in the back,” we are witnessing the business on the top and casuals on the bottom. Such a new trend has been coined “top dressing” where you wear something smart and formal from the waist-up while anything goes underneath.
Masks, the new 'it' accessory
Nowadays, there is something without which nobody can leave their homes, it isn’t the wallet or the key. We all have a new priority-the Mask. Not only it is necessary for preventing the further spread of the virus, but they also cover half of our faces, so people would probably prefer something more aesthetic. The masks were already prevalent in Japan and Korea; however, recently, it has unavoidably and swiftly gained acceptance in the rest of the world. These days, the pictures of daily life, either on the front pages of the newspapers or on social media, demonstrate people trying to hide and protect themselves from their microscopic organism enemy. Immediately after the urge for the masks arose, fashion rushed to meet the need, as fashion always does. There appeared masks with various patterns and forms, for the ones who want to protect themselves but also to make it fashion.
Back to Ecommerce
In a country where ecommerce penetration is still quite less, implementing omnichannel for fashion retailers was a mountain to climb. Ecommerce relies a lot on data, and while a true omnichannel setup would have taken considerably longer time to show benefits, the Covid-19 might have just reduced the timelines considerably.
Significant shifts in consumers’ preferences
Social distancing has underlined the importance of digital channels more than ever, and the lockdown has lifted digital as an urgent priority across the entire value chain. With shops closed around the world, consumers are moving to online. There is a common perception among masses that offline retail can become breeding grounds for transmission of the virus. According to several reports, the virus can survive on most materials for a few hours to a few days. Hence any online package reaching you at ambient temperatures is less likely to have the virus which makes ecommerce safer. Therefore, a strong online presence is a key to brands' survival now and their success in the future. Apart from that, the pandemic is also adding values around sustainability into sharp focus, emphasising discussions around materialism, over-consumption, and immoral business practices. An extensive drop in consumer spending on apparel will result in massive inventory build-ups.
Increase in conversion rate
Due to the permission grant for ecommerce of non-essential items in Lockdown 4.0, fashion ecommerce spiked up almost immediately. If we do not look at marketplaces and focus on brand ecommerce, the pre-COVID conversion rate on an average would have been 1.5 to 2%. Now, the conversion rates have shot up to 3% on an average, which means for the same marketing spends; brands are getting larger revenue and conversions.
If these numbers are to be looked at, we do foresee a surge in ecommerce for fashion retail in the next few months. A very pertinent problem with ecommerce is the availability of options for shoppers and hence the need for offers and discounts. While many brands earlier proclaimed not going down the route as a reason for not venturing into ecommerce, almost everybody is now aligned to the fact that the discount is well compensated by scale, reduced operational costs and reduced manpower costs involved with ecommerce. Ecommerce has for long been considered to be another outlet by most fashion brands, but now ecommerce is being moved to an equal business vertical.
An excellent indicator of the fact that for fashion retailers, omnichannel or a greater focus on ecommerce might be the way forward, is that even during the lockdown, there were multiple instances when ecommerce for non-essential items were considered ahead of opening up for shops. It is true that e commerce poses its own set of challenges but with the right approach, proper implementation of the business logic and smart logistics, ecommerce might provide the right fuel for most brands to survive and flourish. Also, if we look according to the re-shaping of fashionwear, then the Great Depression and World War II transformed people's wardrobes; COVID-19 unavoidably will become a new trendsetter, but it is up to designers to lead this change.