• Tayeeb Khan

Impact of COVID 19 on Fashion & Apparel Industry | Will It Change The Way People Dress

Updated: Jul 19, 2020

I have been avoiding writing about this for the past two months with the hope that this Pandemic would pass and everything would come back to normal. But, looking at everything going around, the hope now seems like a far-fetched dream.

Optimists might say to look at the brighter side. I am one of those and I would definitely tell you to look at the silver lining, even though it's kind of thin in this case. I don’t mean to scare you or anything. As an aspiring student who wants to become a Fashion designer, you need to know what’s going on around and how it affecting the very industry that you will be a part of very soon.

Impact of COVID-19 on Fashion & Apparel Industry

Only during the research for this article that I understood the gravity of the situation; Not only in the Fashion Industry but other Industries as well. There is no vertical or business sector in the world that has not been affected by the Corona Pandemic. That being said, the impact is not similar across all sectors. While some of the industries are experiencing a minimal impact, other industries like Travel & Tourism, Airlines as well as Fashion have been hit hard.

In the coming days, the sectors that come under the category of non-essential spending are the ones to be hit extremely hard. Unfortunately, the Fashion Industry comes in that category.

Anyhow, let’s move onto the nitty-gritty of how COVID 19 Pandemic is having an effect on the Fashion Industry across the World and especially in India. While we are at, let's try to have a look at that silver lining as well.

Fashion Shows:

In February, Giorgio Armani live-streamed his Fall/Winter 2020-2021 collections at Milan Fashion Week instead of Inviting the guests. This was the direct cause of the pervasive spread of Coronavirus in Italy.

Giorgio Armani Fall/Winter 2020-2021 Women's Fashion Show

Image Source: armani.com

India Fashion Week Autumn-Winter 2020 which was scheduled to be held in New Delhi from March 11 to March 15 has been postponed. Valmont Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week was postponed from April to June has now again been postponed to September.

The crisis is something never witnessed before. For the first time, I saw Apple’s WDC (World Developer’s Conference) happen on an online video stream instead of a huge event, and it was a great success.

There are several others who have already decided to go Digital with their Fashion Weeks and Shows. According to the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, Parish Fashion Week will be held on an online video stream instead of a big event followed by Milan Fashion Week. London Fashion Week will also be following the suite. According to the Fashion & Design Council of India, India Fashion Week is all set to go Digital this year.

Looking at the events, it actually makes sense to go digital and stream the shows online instead of bearing losses.

Fashion Economy:

Fashion Economy Impact of COVID 19 Corona Virus Pandemic on Fashion Industry

We already know that the world economy including the Indian Economy is on a downward spiral since the pandemic began. When the World comes to a standstill, Economy is the first thing that starts showing the effects.

Fashion Industry which has been seeing a steady year on year growth is also seeing a downward trend in 2020. While India has witnessed a loss of approximately 2.6 Billion Dollars due to cancelled orders from Brands & lock-down of Manufacturing units & loads of other reasons, UK Retail sales has seen a 20.6% drop which is approximately around 13.06 Billion Dollars.

Fashion Industry representatives involving Fashion Designers and leading Brand Manufacturers, brought out that Indian companies export orders for Christmas from European Nations have been cancelled for this year. They also revealed that Christmas orders are received one year in advance and export orders for 2021 have also been cancelled.

More than 1000 Factories have closed down in India which has affected the livelihood of over 1.96 Million people. Every Brand, individual seller or anyone who is connected to the Fashion Industry looks forward to Wedding seasons in India. All the interconnected chains involved like the fashion designer, craftspeople who do the zardozi and dabka embroidery, the daily wage workers, etc. Due to lock-down & measures being taken to avoid the spread of Corona Virus has dampened the spirit of this season. Most of the weddings have either been postponed or have happened with smaller ceremonies. Top Fashion Designers in India like Manish Malhotra, Sabyasachi & Tarun Tahiliani have closed their operations.

The global clothing and clothing accessories stores market is expected to decline from $1,256.9 billion in 2019 to $1,244.5 billion in 2020 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of -1%.

According to some of the experts, it would take at least a year to recover from the impact. But, according to another report from the market is expected to recover & grow at a rate of 5% from 2021 & reach 1440 Billion Dollars in 2023.

For those of you who don’t like economics, Accounts & numbers, here is what this section means. The fashion industry is in a loss due to Pandemic and it would take at least a year to recover from all of this. But the growth after the recovery is expected to be humongous.

The Shift Towards Online:

We have already seen this happening but at a slower pace. But the COVID 19 pandemic has accelerated the process of shifting. As mentioned earlier, Fashion Shows are taking the online streaming route.

That is not it, even buyers are now looking at online options instead of going to stores and buying clothes which is kind of obvious given the situation. This is going to benefit the E-Commerce companies and people who will adapt to this shift in its earlier stage i.e. looking at online options to sell their collections.

Change in Buyers Behavior:

When a crisis like this comes; it changes everything; especially the trends & behaviors. We can already see that happening. The main reason for this might be the work from home culture which is starting to extend its roots in companies across the world. No one wants to dress up when they are at home, which means people would not have to buy an outfit to wear them to the office.

That being said, people still want to be comfortable at home. There has been a growing trend for lounge-wear/casual wear. People might change the way they dress, but they still have to buy outfits to dress. Another fashion accessory whose sales have sprung up is Eye Wear sale, as eyes are prominently visible, due to the mask. The Latest report mentions that fashion accessories like Lipsticks sales have nosedived and production has stopped. Reason being, not stepping out, and even when venturing out, the mask is the culprit for dwindling lipstick sales.

One of the research mentions that over 53% of people have said that their Fashion spending has reduced drastically since they are not going out.

We have been reading news about companies laying off employees. This might be another reason for the change in buying behavior. Most of the people are going through a difficult financial phase & Fashion clothing is not something one would go for during such a phase. Also, people are expecting a recession to hit sooner or later.


To sum it up, the Fashion Industry is being affected by various direct & indirect factors. Though research suggests that this COVID 19 pandemic might change how people dress. But they can never stop dressing. Even though Fashion Industry might take some time to recover, the outlook still looks great and as per reports the growth expectations also look promising.

Have you noticed any impacts that I have not mentioned here, do mention those in the comments section so that we can learn about it. What is your outlook on the whole pandemic affecting the Fashion Industry? I would love to know your point of view, so make sure you comment on your outlook as well.


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