I tend to stick to the positives, but I think it is important for everyone to know a few things about how COVID-19 is affecting the apparel industry. I want to add that I am in no way the best person to learn this information from, so I have put together a list of the articles that have struck me most along with a few bullet points for those who don't have the time to read the full articles!
Must Read Articles (I've been continuing to add to this list LAST UPDATED APRIL 15TH): Is COVID-19 The Reset Button We Need Towards A Sustainable Future Of Design? Why Bangladesh Garment Sector Needs Global Support With stores closed, supply chains are put to the test Unions Fear Existential Threat to Garment Industry As Retailers Cancel Factory Orders, a Potential Windfall for Discounters Grows Will Covid-19 disrupt fashion’s sustainability commitments? Coronavirus offers "a blank page for a new beginning," says Li Edelkoort With Stores Closed, Supply Chains Are Put to the Test As Coronavirus Spreads, Supply Chain Workers Face Layoffs Perspectives For North America's Fashion Industry in a Time of Crisis Now Is the Time for Fashion to Practice the Sustainability it Preaches Pandemic Leaves No Rung of the Fashion Supply Chain Unharmed How Kuyichi fights for a serious system change in the fashion industry – especially now Some of the key points from the articles above that I want to bring to your attention about COVID-19's effects:
As you know, imposed lockdowns have forced retailers to close shop and now we've also seen distribution centers being forced to shut down, which means your online orders can't be fulfilled in a timely manner.
Global apparel brands and retailers are canceling ordered and/or refusing to pay for clothing that has already been produced by their suppliers. (H&M, Inditex, PVH Corp, Target, and Marks and Spencer announced that they will be paying all of their suppliers and is the first company to announce this, so hopefully, others will follow now)
Factory owners and global unions say that retailers are using small print in contracts to stop shipments and avoid paying for goods they ordered
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association said over 4 million Bangladeshi factory workers may lose their jobs as a result.
With China's factories back up and running again, they're finding customers are refusing shipment of the merchandise orders they previously placed because, without consumers shopping their stores, there is little need to replenish their inventory.
In a lot of cases, brands are refusing to honor contracts with suppliers whom they have worked with for many years. My tidbit - I believe brands should be re-negotiating their payment terms, rather than completely canceling on their suppliers, to stay true to their commitments and maintain good relationships!
"With Kuyichi he tries to deal with the situation as consciously and respectfully as possible. Every option and decision is discussed with his retailers. The brand always takes feasibility into account and payment arrangements are being made that work for both parties. Kuyichi is in daily contact with all their suppliers and together they look for doable and fair solutions for both parties."
Digital solutions are proving to be very important in an agile supply chain. 3D and virtual sampling have been on the rise, and discussion around MES (aka real-time production) is becoming more important which allows more control over multiple elements of the production process. It would allow brands to see what is currently in production and what can be stopped - which would be very helpful in today's situation with full orders being canceled left right and center.
The discussion of producing season-less styles has been of more importance
The supply chain disruptions may also prompt brands to reevaluate their dependence on distant and global suppliers. If brands restructure their supply chains as a result, this could be another opportunity for transformation.
So where is your place in all of this? The concept of buying less, buying local and buying better has never been more important. Adopting this mindset will help set ourselves up for success for the road ahead.
We are in unchartered territory and a lot of brands will not be able to survive. So, I strongly encourage you to support the small businesses you love right now because they are the ones that are going to need it most!
For some positive news on how the denim industry is adapting and helping in this time of need, COVID-19:
Sorry for the heavy topic, but it's important to keep up to date and try to stay positive. I will see you over on Instagram until next time friends but in the meantime, STAY DILIGENT!