A Global Perspective
Working for a global apparel company based in St. Louis, MO, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are felt locally in our city, nationally across the United States, and around the world. Being British, I remain connected with family and friends in the UK who share similar fears and concerns, which brings us closer together at this time. People from all different circumstances, geographies, socio-economic factors, ethnicities, and religions are all united in this viral battle.
A Grateful Perspective
The world is at home right now. Whether you are one who has lost their employment or one who is working from home for the first time, it is a period of significant adjustment. As in the story The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy discovered “there is no place like home” while going through a journey of hardship. Now, as the world is traversing through a difficult period, it is a source of comfort to know that regardless of the circumstances, there is no other place that I would rather be than at home.
This pandemic is incredibly taxing on those working within the healthcare system and in essential businesses putting the challenges the rest of us face in the apparel industry into perspective. In times like this, it is humbling to recognize the immeasurable courage of those risking their lives for the greater good. I see business innovation happening around me to lend a helping hand. Many apparel companies like us are pitching in during this hour to source needed medical supplies to meet the demand around the globe.
Though the long-term ramifications are unknown, we can be thankful not only for business innovation but also for technology and its ability to help us. I’m grateful that through technology, we can continue to work with our colleagues and customers, while even elevating the process and demonstrating that adversity breeds creativity.
A Leader’s Perspective
Active in a global industry, I am aware of the impact that COVID-19 is having and will have on the retail sector (an industry that was already struggling pre-COVID-19). The impact will be one that has a compounding effect from individual jobs to a nation’s economy.
I recently read an article by Kaarin Vemnar of Retail Dive that was initiated from the American Apparel & Footwear Association’s Annual Executive Summit conference. She interviewed five retail leaders about the impact the industry has seen from tariffs, sustainable practices, and the coronavirus. I was impressed by leaders who have adopted “no pressure,” supportive roles. I was also encouraged to see that others place importance on good communication, learning about the facts behind the coronavirus, and making a priority for inspiring colleagues and clients.
Here are some key highlights from the article:
Colin Browne, COO, Under Armour: “A lot of this has been happening with our Asia teams who are sitting at home…that adds an additional level of complexity … some of the factories do not have all their people back. There’s just so many moving pieces, so a lot of it is just trying to set it, from my point of view … I’ve spoken with all our strategic members over the past couple of months and continue to trade messages with them every day. I’m trying to be supportive and not put too much pressure on them because we also need to be considerate of the challenges that they are going through.”
Steve Lamar, President and CEO, AAFA: “One of the facts that’s clear from the CDC is that you don’t get coronavirus from inanimate objects like products, materials, or packaging that ships through cargo. We try to make sure people understand that because as production begins to move, you don’t want anybody being afraid that they’re going contract [the virus] from something that it can’t be contracted from.”
Morten Lehmann, Chief Sustainability Officer, Global Fashion Agenda: “I think one of the challenges is the gap in perception. We see this is coming, we see that we will have a world with resource constraint, but we are not acting…and now, all of a sudden, we are facing it right now, here…we’re thinking in the short term … hopefully, this will inspire people to say, ‘How do we navigate this process? How do we think and consider how we can do things differently?'”
Amina Razvi, Executive Director, Sustainable Apparel Coalition: “In times like this … we have a bigger issue to solve … it’s actually the best time to figure out how you future-proof your business.”
Gary Simmons, Director, Intradeco Apparel: “I think the key thing is communication. It’s truly saying, ‘Look, we don’t know yet.’ I read a couple of articles that said, the best thing to say is you don’t know yet. That doesn’t mean you won’t tell people what’s going to happen. But as soon as what’s going on is clear, then you’ll communicate.”
A Nimble Perspective
During the pandemic, a key takeaway is the importance of being agile. Shifting expectations, being creative in your approach, and adapting to new situations is fundamental in navigating a complicated landscape and will ultimately result in creative business innovation.
Looking Beyond the Current Crisis
This crisis will pass, and we will endure. I hope that we learn from this crisis and become stronger because of it. In the meantime, if I can offer any thoughts about how to restructure communications, take advantage of business innovation, or improve your maneuverability, please reach out. I can be contacted at [email protected], on my cell at (615) 495-7243, or in my office at (314) 771-9152 ext-130.
Good luck, stay safe, and in the words of Sir Winston Churchill, “Sure I am of this: you have only to endure to conquer.”
Scott McFadden, CCO and Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Stars Design Group is an apparel industry executive with over 25 years experience working in all sectors of the industry. Scott has developed and sold to many organizations at the highest levels from NASCAR Teams representing Dale Earnhardt, Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace, and many others. Scott successfully negotiated agreements with the heads of the UAW and eventually moved into the promotional products industry with programs such as the NASCAR Coca-Cola program, while also representing Tommy Bahama in an exclusive agreement for the corporate market. He was instrumental in developing licensing agreements with REALTREE and Bone Collector. In his role with Stars Design Group, he brings extensive customer relations expertise, sales management, and marketing vision as he works with the team to develop apparel for some of the most well-known brands in the industry.