As the effects of COVID-19 ripple throughout every industry imaginable, it can be hard to keep up with the compounding effects and the way clothing trends are shifting. The way we do things is changing, and the way we dress is no exception. People are staying in more, dressing for comfort, and some are living pajamas for days. Others are dressing business casual from only the waist up (showcasing the “mullet” of COVID fashion) for an effortless transition from work to personal in this heyday of Zoom.
With clothing industry giants like J.Crew and Neiman Marcus filing Chapter 11, it’s time for those of us in the clothing industry to take notice of what IS working. A couple of our previous blogs have touched on why this pandemic has accelerated the end or restructure of many of our industry’s dinosaurs, and why we’re NOT surprised. Still, it’s time we examine areas in our industry that are thriving despite it all.
Athleisure, Pajamas on the Rise During Stay At Home
COVID based recommendations encouraging people to stay home, combined with skyrocketing unemployment rates, and a tremendous increase in the number of people working remotely from home, provides the “perfect storm” to boost the sale of “comfortable” clothes. Many anticipate a large percentage of people will continue to work remotely from their homes, even post-pandemic. A CNBC survey, for example, found that 24% of people said they’d like to work either entirely from home or work from home more than they used to.
With that in mind, it’s no wonder that clothing trend headlines like “Pajama sales spike 143%, pants sales drop 13% as coronavirus crisis drags on“ are popping up in the news. And it’s true – according to Adobe Analytics, online sales of pajamas surged 143% in April this year. Pants and bra sales, on the other hand, fell 13% and 12% respectively within that same time. Another item hit hard by the pandemic? High heels and men’s dress shoes. Sales of both men’s and women’s dress shoes plunged 70% in March and April, according to market research firm NPD Group.
Lululemon is catering to what the people want right now with their heavy focus on “work at home” wear. Increased sales in casual, active, and loungewear have created new benchmarks for the company with investment shares hitting an all-time high (from a low in March to a 92% increase come two months later).
The clothing industry experts that had predicted the “perfect storm” noted above anticipated the boost in athleisure wear. They were right.
The people have spoken, and clearly, comfort is their priority. And if you think about it logically, it makes sense.
New Opportunities: Demand For PPE On The Rise
Perhaps you have heard about various companies shifting their focus and utilizing their production facilities to meet the growing demand for hand sanitizer. Everyone from mega-oil company ExxonMobil to a slew of liquor distilleries (including Anheuser-Busch) and even major makeup brands like Estée Lauder and L’Oréal are adapting quickly to meet consumer demands for hand sanitizer. They have positioned themselves right into the mix of other top suppliers and manufacturers of hand sanitizer.
In the same vein, members of the clothing industry are shifting their focus to meet the growing demand for personal protective equipment (PPE). Major clothing industry brands are pivoting to the production of PPE with protective and hospital gowns and face masks. Some, like Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Ralph Lauren, have seized the opportunity to develop facial masks to increase social impact and awareness while marketing a fashionable alternative to the straight-forward face mask. They are selling stylish face wear for the demographic that knows if we need to wear face coverings, we don’t have to sacrifice our style to do so.
Even at Stars Design Group, we recognized the market need for masks early on. From joining a task force to design a new consumer mask that provides a tortuous path for the virus, to the immediate launch of an innovative Prata AG+ Silver Ion Neoprene mask that protects the wearer from various harmful bacteria with aerosilver antimicrobial technology, we too are invested in providing better options for protection.
If we can provide design or technology guidance to help you launch PPE products for mass market, our design team can help.
One Door Closes, Another Opens: Online Shopping
Far and wide, retailers have been struggling to keep their doors open. Smart and agile companies are pivoting their marketing efforts to focus on winning sales online. According to Adobe, e-commerce sales in the U.S. increased by almost 50% in April.
Knowing that our industry is struggling is a concern. The industry rapidly transitioned from overproduction in manufacturing to plummeting sales at brick and mortar. Retailers now afraid of being left with large amounts of stock, and massive orders for inventory are getting canceled. Factories that purchased goods and paid workers to complete the orders fully are now left floating the losses of these cancellations, causing high layoffs with garment makers and factory shutdowns.
While canceling orders for a massive amount of product at the beginning of the pandemic made sense for retailers at the time, factory abandonment will decrease manufacturing options in the future and weaken trust in future orders. This climate opens the door for nimble companies pivoting to meet the current needs of consumers and stay current with clothing trends. I remain optimistic – for when one door closes, another always opens.
I predict demand will ramp back up – and when it does, it is likely that demand will exceed supply. The industry is already seeing evidence of this. While in-store purchases are understandably down, online sales in many cases exceed those of previous years. Adopting a strong online retail strategy will be pivotal for future success in retail.
If you need help developing an online retail strategy, Stars Design Group is here to help and support you so you can accelerate. Reach out to us, and let’s talk.
Lean On Those You Trust
Just as you would during any time of significant change, this is a time to lean on those you can trust. Stars Design Group is committed to serving apparel companies during this uncertain time. Are you feeling increasingly concerned? Overwhelmed? Struggling to keep up with the latest clothing trends? Navigating the evolving landscape of the clothing industry is challenging, even for seasoned experts. The Stars Design Group team is here to help. Contact us today.
Emily Lane is a serial entrepreneur with 25 years of experience, Emily’s expertise in business development, brand strategy, and marketing, propels businesses to viability, profitability, and market leadership. At Stars Design Group, she is delighted to pair her passion for fashion and design, with her specialty of helping businesses next level, pivot, and thrive.
About Stars Design Group: Founded by industry experts, Stars Design Group global fashion design and production house that helps clients bring their apparel to market. We consult, design, and facilitate production and delivery.
Understanding that the apparel industry is about evolution and not revolution, we continue to refine the way the industry does business. Embracing the latest 3D design and development software, we help to refine the design and approval process in a digital landscape, paving the way for rapid decisions and execution of programs while reducing mistakes, improving fit, minimizing returns, and increasing profit margins.
With a network of 67 factories in 14 countries worldwide, our relationships are generations deep. Being diverse in our manufacturing locations, we are nimble in an ever-evolving landscape and provide ethically manufactured apparel and accessories.