COVID-19 gives clothing brands the chance to make good on sustainability promises

The coronavirus outbreak could prove a powerful catalyst for change in the clothing industry if brands and retailers can think creatively about repurposing their unsold stock, rather than cancelling orders and putting suppliers at risk of going bust, says data and analytics company GlobalData.

One of the challenges the pandemic has presented to fashion companies is that their stalled supply chains are full of the wrong products such as summer and back-to-school materials. In reality, they are most likely to need autumn and winter items by the time their stores re-open and consumers return to shop them.

Hannah Abdulla, Apparel Correspondent at GlobalData, says: “Brands and retailers are currently cancelling orders, meaning many suppliers are having to close factories, lay off workers or just not pay them. Instead, they should be looking at stockpiling goods from this summer and selling them in 2021. They should be thinking about how to present the stock differently and sell it next year.

“For too long there has been talk in the fashion industry of being more sustainable. The industry has now been forced into a position where it can start taking action on sustainability. It would be an environmental disaster if all that stock ends up being destroyed. Really, brands should start thinking about how they can sell this year’s stock next year and send a message to consumers that they are truly making good on sustainability promises.

“Moreover, this would earn the trust of their supplier factories and ensure good business relationships are maintained which makes it easier to get back to normal once the fire of the pandemic dies down.”

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