THE COVID-19 IMPACT ON THE FASHION INDUSTRY. DON'T LET COVID STOP YOU.

  • covid19
  • fashion industry
  • digital solutions
  • finance innovation
  • product creativity

The entire fashion supply chain was hit hard by the pandemic, which arrived in Italy in March 2020. The clothing and accessories sector was among the most exposed to the effects of the crisis, second only to the hospitality and tourism sectors. The DPCM (Government decisions / restrictions) drawn up led to the forced closure of all retail sales activities and a large part of the sector's production, with the sole exception of clothing companies aimed at satisfying the demand from the healthcare sector.

The lockdown period resulted in the blocking of all commercial activities of clothing and accessories stores operating in Italy 30, of which approximately 85 thousand related to the clothing sector and approximately 45 thousand to accessories. Only a small part of the sector, thanks to smart working 31 and the intensification of sales through digital platforms. Indeed, e-commerce was one of the main resilience factors in the sector during the lockdown, ensuring the existence of a minimum turnover for companies34 active in online sales.

At the same time, the migration to fully digital solutions is one of the determining factors in this period. The wide adoption of e-commerce sales platforms may lead to a change in the organizational structure of companies, in the future-proof skills of the sector and, consequently, in the professional profiles, making some types of workers weaker, Attract funding for innovations. The need for innovation in the sector, already present before the Covid-19 pandemic, has been intensified by the crisis.   

To attract investment and finance innovation, it is essential to ensure the conditions at the sector level that guarantee manageable risk, attractive profits, and a measurable impact. Actions can extend in two directions. First of all, to attract investments both for hard tech solutions (for example materials technologies and recycling schemes), and soft tech ( for example digital platforms), which represent an important turning point towards a sustainable model of the sector.

Product creativity, supported by specific financing lines to produce new collections. Innovation of production processes with the use of machinery based on digital technologies; Consolidation of commercial capacity, with greater consumer orientation. In this sense, companies can consolidate their presence on the final part of the value chain, positioning the brand more decisively. 

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Product and material innovation


Company assets need to be reviewed on a more regular basis, favoring the sustainability of the business model, core assets, and streamlining of operating processes. The use of digital asset management software allows you to optimize the management and use of all digital content Optimal inventory management. A leaner and more optimal inventory rotation often translates into a better margin for the organization. It is, therefore, necessary to rethink business models according to the specific phase of the value chain. A partnership made up of designers, manufacturers and chemical companies, producers of raw materials, fibers and auxiliary materials are of fundamental importance to promote the development of innovative materials. The change must mainly concern the digital conversion of production plants into smart factories, which use advanced technologies to achieve significant improvements in terms of economies of scale, productivity, quality, flexibility and services.   

Adoption of new technologies and digitalization of business processes


The adoption of new technologies makes it possible to increase the level of digitalization of business processes (from design to sale) and to leverage the use of virtual environments. At the same time, there is a reduction in costs made possible, for example, by digital prototyping. Finally, digitalization also plays a positive role in terms of production efficiency and transparency along the entire value chain. Automation plays a crucial role in tracing the product from the location and method of production onwards, also reducing the problems associated with the exploitation of labor. An example is a digital transition, which represents an opportunity for companies in the sector34.  A plan to restart respecting safety and sustainability criteria. This aspect would make communication with consumers more transparent that must be encouraged to purchase more sustainable products.