The Uncertainty of the Global Fashion Calendar plus Everchanging Consumer Demands. What Will Happen Next?

To put it frankly, the fashion industry is all a bit up in the air right now.

The current pandemic has caused a wave of chaos in the industry, from global brands becoming increasingly vulnerable to consumer needs driving brands to innovate faster and harder.

Businesses have been forced to adapt their collections as well as decipher how those collections are exhibited. Certain fashion houses are abandoning tradition by reducing the number of collections per year, some are focusing their concentration on ‘seasonless’ fashion, whilst others are sticking to their arguably old-fashioned ways.

Michael Kors announced that they will be following in the footsteps of Gucci and Saint Laurent by reducing their collections to two seasons a year, rather than four. The brand is planning on delivering clothes incrementally, rather than entire collections dropping at once.

These changes have been made after the halt in retail spending caused by coronavirus left brands with billions of dollars of unsold stock. This inventory will have to be substantially marked down, much to the delight of consumers, however, this could be critical to the survival of struggling brands. By rewriting the rules of the fashion calendar, inventory deliveries will be better aligned with current seasons which will delay the need for excessive discounting.

On the other hand, some brands are feeling creative and adapting their events to the post-lockdown realm. British brand, Burberry, has been one of the first fashion houses to confirm their Spring/Summer 2021 runway will go ahead this September, however outdoors. Fortunately for all of us still stuck at home, the show will also be available to experience digitally. With travel still unadvisable, brands must efficiently reconsider investments in staging their grand runway shows.

A concept which is on the table for many major fashion houses post-lockdown is the development of ‘seasonless’ collections. A surge in new wealth creation in the Global South has caused customer bases to be the most diverse it has ever been. Although Europe remains the leading region for luxury sales, overseas visitors from the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin American collectively account for 50% of these purchases yet the fashion seasons are likely to be out of sync with the climate of their own countries.

Pre-lockdown, luxury shoppers were more globally mobile than ever before, with opportunities to dip in and out of climates as they travel for work or pleasure. Plus, with the social calendar becoming more lenient, travellers could find themselves sunbathing on a tropical beach in the middle of December. Despite the current issues causing brands to consider ‘seasonless’ collections, it seems that this was already an existing problem. A ‘seasonless’ calendar will reduce the urgent need to discount and will reflect the reality of today’s globe-trotting consumers.

The need for change is seen at both ends of the market, as designers are understanding the need for transparency, innovation and sustainable changes, whilst the behaviour of consumers is changing day by day.

The fashion industry had to make a drastic deviation back in March, as the desire for partywear vanished whilst the longing for loungewear and gym attire went through the roof.

The issue here for clothing brands was that they were not ready for the influx in leisure or gym wear. Due to the complexity and organisation of the fashion calendar, the clothes we were buying in March were designed for us a year earlier. This suggests that a more versatile and flexible fashion calendar, as currently being proposed, may alter the potential success or failure of a brand when immediate unexpected releases are demanded. We asked you all how you would feel about ‘seasonless’ collections and the general results were extremely positive. It seems consumers have an understanding of transitional clothing and often wear what they like regardless of the weather outside.

We have recently found comfort in loungewear, however, is it questioned whether the trend is here to stay, or contrastingly, whether we will dress up more than ever before. Will we bounce back to our pre-lockdown style? Or will leggings replace our skinny jeans? We are aware of how our lives may now differ as we adjust ourselves to the ‘new normal’, but will this shake up what we pull out of our wardrobe every day?

It is still unknown as to when our Highstreets will be bustling again, or when we will feel comfortable enough to freely browse a store. In a sense, fashion houses are as equally in the dark as their customers.

What were your thoughts?

We asked you all how quickly you would feel comfortable returning to brick and mortar stores. 74% of you said you won’t be running straight back the Highstreet on July 4th, however, 78% of YFW followers stated that after lockdown they would prefer in-store shopping over online, suggesting it may take time for our bustling cobbled streets to return to normal.

In terms of consumer shopping behaviour, 70% of the YFW community said that in the coming months their style will highly resonate with their pre-lockdown sense of fashion. It appears that consumers are saying goodbye to their lockdown staples, casual leggings and oversized tees, and hello to their favourite sophisticated jeans and heels.

With brands potentially designing to their own rhythm and increasing their global connections, plus the likelihood of consumers returning to their previous shopping habits, it is still uncertain where the industry will find itself this time next year.

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