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Fashion firms’ new strategy to sell more has nothing to do with the clothes they make

The 2020 pandemic has not only changed the world forever, but has also accelerated the consumer trends that experts had been announcing for years. Clothes are no longer sold. 

The year 2020 has changed the world at all levels , and the textile industry was not going to be left out . The health crisis has affected fashion firms like so many others. On the one hand, fashion firms have seen their income decrease while accumulating stock of unsold collections. On the other hand, customers –especially the new generations– have experienced a change in their consumer mentality at all levels (conscious buying, proximity, sustainable, second-hand). All of this has caused nearly three-quarters of listed companies to have posted unprecedented losses .

Undoubtedly, the pandemic has accelerated trends that were in place before the crisis , as shopping went digital and consumers increasingly advocated for equity and social justice . Therefore, in 2021, it is time to consider what the future challenges are and how to tackle them . What is clear is that, although there is no simple and standardized playbook for next year due to uncertainty, fashion firms have gotten on the move.

Having reconfigured their fashion show strategy , annual collections and sales plans , they cannot lose sight of their customers if they do not want to see their warehouses full of product to sell again. What exactly do the consumers of the future want? The answer was already venturing Justin O’Shea–Ex-buyer of the luxury website My Theresa and creative director of the firm SSS World Corp.– in an interview with GQ: “In the world of luxury we don’t deal with low-cost garments that are easy to replace, we handle products that are worth thousands turkeys, […] when you buy an item it is an investment. That is why it is important to look for pieces that you feel good about, items that allow you to create a legacy and an identity. Nowadays, when a client purchases a product, he feels that he is part of something, a concept, a lifestyle, an aesthetic … and that is precisely what gives him the reward of spending that money, because it obtains something more than an object ”. If we take into account that this purchase forecast was a pre-pandemic trend, it is understandable that currently, as it accelerates, the clientele that invests in fashion do so in firms where they feel visibly represented and aligned in values.

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The theory is not new, but now takes on a greater role. Proof of this is that the marketing expert Ashraf Ramzy already put it on the table at the beginning of 2010 in one of his celebrated articles: “ People don’t buy products, but the stories that these products represent ; just as they do not buy brands, but rather the myths and archetypes that those brands symbolize ”, which corroborates one of the main lines of current action of brands: go back to your classics to emerge afloat .

With 2020 data on the table and the Business of Fashion and McKinsey & Company report on the challenges facing the fashion industry in 2021, the importance of putting the discourse and values ​​of each brand at the height of their creations Becomes important.

On the one hand, after demonstrating that more products and collections do not necessarily mean better financial results , Covid-19 has underlined the need for a change in mindset around profitability . Businesses must reduce complexity and find ways to sell at full price to reduce inventory levels. To do this, they must increase flexibility during the season to generate desire, both in new products and in restockings of the most demanded, and also adopt a demand-centered approach to define their supply strategy . And that demand is going through a moment of change and in which consumers expect companies to offer more dignity, security and justice throughout the global industry.

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