COVID-19 and its Collateral Damage on the Fashion Industry



The Business of Fashion with McKinsey & company has published a recent report on the effects of COVID-19 on the fashion industry economy. The report outlines the present and projected conditions of fashion due to the impact of the pandemic. 


According to the report, sales in global fashion will decline from 15-30% from 2019 to 2020. For the overall industry economy to recover to the level it was in 2019,  it is projected to take up to two years minimum to recover in Q3 of 2022.  For the forecasted recoveries to take place, online sales must do as well if not better than they have since the pandemic hit. Online sales since COVID-19 hit have increased 29% which is equivalent to six years of growth in just 8 months. The digital world is becoming the main source of economy for the industry presently and must grow to help sustain the future. 

Certain demographic segments of the fashion industry have been affected by the pandemic in different ways. The report looks at major economic powers affected such as China, the USA and Europe.  China has suffered  the least detriment with a 7-20% sales decrease, and sales projected to bounce back around Q4 of 2020 or latest Q1 of 2021. The US has had a  17-32% decline and is forecasted to recover very slowly by Q1 of 2023. The region with the highest impact is Europe, which has seen a 22-35% sales decrease, although projected to have an earlier recovery than the US in Q2 of 2020, while travel and tourism returns. 



There are many new emerging trends that brands will have to take notice of moving forward. For instance, online shopping is going to be even more prevalent, with 71% of fashion industry executives expecting online business to grow by 20% plus in 2020. Approximately half of European consumers have stopped shopping in physical stores since 2019, which could add to this intense online growth. The desire for ethically produced clothing has also become increasingly popular. Two fifths of fashion industry executives have decided to move forward with season-less fashion to rewire the fashion calendar and gear it more toward sustainability. About 66% of fashion consumers said they would stop supporting brands that do not treat employees fairly. 


Although the pandemic brings negative effects to the fashion industry, it is important to recognize the positive collateral as well. The fact that many of the projections for the industry to recover are two or three years ahead allows the fast paced consumer society to slow down and reflect on habits which have previously been unsustainable. The consumer starts to look like a person who is becoming more self aware of ethical living. Time will only tell how this continues. 


   +  Words: Isabella Cammarata, Luxiders Magazine Jr. Editor


Connect with her on LinkedIn