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  • Foto van schrijverRozanne Henzen

AMS blog:The coronavirus presents the fashion industry with a chance to rethink and reset its values

The cover of Vogue Italy’s April issue is white in response to the coronavirus: their next April issue should be green.

White is used as a symbol of respect, hope, and light after darkness. But above all, as the magazine states, “white is not surrender, but a blank sheet waiting to be written.” This period should be used to think outside the box and find better solutions for an indispensable industry that provides so many of us with joy, style, and love for clothes. And hopefully, by next year the cover will be green.

Coronavirus’s impact on the fashion industry

The fashion industry is a global industry that heavily relies on intercontinental supply chains, continuous consumer spending, and regular collection changes. As countries go into lockdown, financial markets are disrupted and consumers are forced to stay at home, the interconnected fashion industry sees an average market capitalization drop of almost 40 percent since the beginning of 2020. The impact will reach far wider than we can personally see or hear, due to the interconnectedness of the industry and its value chain, prompting production problems, lack of raw materials, and job loss. For people working in low-wage countries such as India, Cambodia, or Bangladesh this will be the hardest, as unemployment will lead to hunger and disease.

"It is no surprise that the 40 percent drop in market capitalization will outlast the pandemic, resulting in financial hardship across the global value chain."

In addition, the industry’s wasteful nature will be fueled: heavily discounting the spring and summer 2020 clothes to clear inventory, overfilled warehouses with unsold stock, additional inventory-reduction schemes such as the incineration of unsold clothes and a consumer focus on budget and fast fashion stores. This is in contrast to consumer interest in recent years where, according to the Global Fashion Agenda, transparency, sustainability (there has been a fivefold increase in sustainable fashion products in the past two years) and traceability played an important role.

An Integrated Value Approach to respond to the current challenges

These current challenges highlight the importance of sustainability and resilience: the ability to survive shocks and live through change-related disruptions such as a pandemic, water scarcity, or other climate change related disruptions, is essential. In order for the fashion industry to become more resilient, our advice is to focus on the five innovation pathways of the Integrated Value Framework. In this framework we use a systems perspective, meaning that we look at the value chain as a whole in which all systems and every stakeholder are connected.

"Think of the fashion industry as a game of Jenga: if you remove or replace one block and disrupt the whole, it will influence all the other blocks."

The objective is to lead from today’s crisis to a new normal in which the fashion industry is more secure, shared, sustainable, smart, and satisfying.

Secure Solutions that make us more protected, strong, and adaptive. For instance, garments equipped with a temperature mechanism to sustain a healthy body temperature working in heated environments...

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