How coronavirus is pushing sustainability to the side
Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 back in January 2020, sustainability was becoming a major talking point among fashion retailers, but now Coronavirus has taken over every aspect of our lives. Consumers were becoming hungry for information from their favourite brands in relation to how garments were being created in the fast paced environment. But has COVID-19 caused consumers to forget about sustainability?
The fashion world prior to the outbreak was ready for a change, with big brands focusing on how they can incorporate more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices into their production and supply chain processes. This has come as a result of pressure from consumers, together with their changing habits. Awareness of the negative elements of the fashion industry has increased, due to greater coverage both online and through TV programs, which influences buying decisions.
H&M is an example of a large high street clothing retailer who has looked to target the sustainable consumer with their “conscious products”, with a green label placed on items to highlight that they have been produced in an ethical manner. H&M have stated that these products must be made from at least 50% sustainable materials, creating an image for other brands to follow suit if they wish to keep attracting customers. Although progress has been halted for the time being, we can hope that the fashion industry will continue to move in the right direction in the long term.
The start of lockdown
Personally, lock-down has had a significant impact on my life, including university, relationships, my job, and my future all on hold. One thing that was not on my priority list was what I will be wearing. Throughout our time in lock-down however, many people have taken to the Internet to kill some time and undertake online shopping, including clothes. The fashion industry overall is facing a huge decline in sales with consumers unable to visit stores causing multiple issues in itself with supply chains. Whilst sales of lounge-wear and exercise gear has increased, we have not seen the usual boom in summer clothing. This has left many brand such as Next, Topshop and River Island in a tricky situation, leading to offer discounts on hundreds of products.
There will always be the lure of scrolling through websites after website to find the look you desire especially while being at home bored but brands do add to the hardship of stopping this cycle. They create the false sense of want as opposed to need, which is suspected to be challenged as time progresses during lock-down. Its difficult to predict whether sustainability will continue to be a key concern for consumers and companies as daily life continues to be interrupted.
In the midst of it
They say fashion never dies, but it certainly has taken a break for many. The one-hour a day catwalk wore off pretty quickly, with a comfortable t-shirt and leggings being the outfit of choice for most of us. It’s easy to see how people care less now then they did before about fashion. Many more important topics have come to light during this pandemic, and it has made us look at things from a different perspective.
With the rapid declined of sales many companies are worrying about their future, including Primark. The large retailer is not profoundly known for being sustainable by any means but now it’s also facing mass losses with no single sale since lock-down commenced. This is due to its lack of online presence that has allowed it to slip away from the nation. This may not have mass effects for you or me but to the countries and people making their products life just got a lot harder.
Whilst some of us may miss having trips to our favourite shops to buy some new clothes, it is during this time that we must consider the impact that Covid 19 is having further down the supply chain. Those who previously lived on our unhealthy consumption habits like Primarks workforce are struggling, with millions of pounds worth of orders cancelled. This is just one ripple the pandemic has caused, Perhaps when life eventually returns to normal it may help us to make more conscious choices.
Time to think
Whilst we have had much to think about during lockdown, it has also been an opportunity for us to take some time to reflect and consider what really matters to us. As the economy hopefully recovers over the next few years, it could be the perfect opportunity for change in many industries, especially the fashion industry.
Sustainably may become an issue for a later date as some have suggested but it’s the time we have now that will evoke real change. The mind-set of consumers has to change to allow a fairer more conscientious pattern instead of the fast inattentive one we have currently. Could you dig through your wardrobe and find something new in something old? Maybe tie die that boring top or cut up them old jeans, you have the time. It has been a period that has made us realise that perhaps we don’t need new clothes as often as we think and maybe the next big trend could be sustainability as we look to build for a better future.