Yesterday, on the American Fashion Podcast, I joined a panel of fashion industry experts to talk about the repercussions of COVID-19.
Everyone shared their perspective from their own little corner of the fashion industry, from luxury to brick-and-mortar retail to supply chain.
Some of the panelists were optimistic while others were not.
But out of everything that was said, this was my biggest takeaway:
It has never been a better time to be a small, independent fashion brand.
And here’s why:
The big, bloated fast fashion brands of the world are STRUGGLING. They have inventory sitting in stores, they have inventory sitting in warehouses and what they’re selling online is immediately being cut to 70 percent off.
They have so much product to move, so many orders that have already been placed with manufacturers and suppliers — AND they are accountable to shareholders.
So, what does that mean for us?
This is sustainable fashion’s moment to shine.
We’re already doing small batches, localizing our supply chains, manufacturing on-demand and not producing thousands more garments than we can sell.
And if you asked anyone on that panel yesterday, all of them would say that this model is the future of fashion.
It is also a moment of reckoning for the monstrously wasteful and environmentally-ravaging fast fashion industry.
If there’s any sort of silver lining, it’s that the 3 trillion dollar fashion industry is being forced to hit the reset button.
What it also tells me is that there has never been a better time to start your own brand.
Because the “rat race” to success has slowed.
This is an incredibly freeing thing because it means that you can take your time to diligently and thoughtfully put time into your research and development.
Second, suppliers and manufacturers have had millions of dollars in canceled orders overnight. They are going to be less busy and more willing to work with you because they, too, will be building their businesses back up.
Third, there are new market needs now that open up endless opportunities for innovation. There are a whole slew of products that will exist at the end of this crisis that didn’t exist before.
And finally, it takes 6-24 months to launch a new fashion brand. From sourcing to product development to building an audience, you need time and now you have time.
The economy and the “new normal” will get to a better place, we will get through this and when we do you’ll be there, too, ready to launch your brand to the world.
It’s also worth noting that every expert on the panel (all of them who were far wiser and more experienced than me) said we should expect a huge holiday season in retail.
If your small brand can make it to December, or if your new brand can hold out to launch in December, then it will be worth it.
It’s easy to think of this time as if it will never end but not only do I know we’ll get through this, I know the industry will be better off for it in the end.
Here’s to the future of fashion,
UPDATE ON THE MASK PROJECT: In one week, we received requests from 900 hospitals and interest from 300 factory partners. Thank you so much to everyone who helped spread the word!
We are still actively matching hospitals and manufacturers while seeking out options for funding. If you can donate to the project, the proceeds will go towards paying the factories to keep their sewers employed. Thanks a million to everyone who has already contributed!