The Pandemic’s Effect on Fashion Industry Is Bigger Than a Switch to Sweatpants

Fashion changed when people stopped going out, and not just because we were all wearing comfy clothes. A professor from the Fashion Institute of Technology provides an analysis of what that means for the fashion business and fashion-focused events.

Author: Convene Editors       

Runway fashion

The rise in virtual runway shows during the pandemic has changed the dynamic between fashion designers and their constituents, Vincent Quan writes. (Chalo Garcia at Unsplash)

Convene asked individuals from inside and outside the business events industry to talk about behaviors and other changes brought on by the pandemic that are lasting, and in particular, to share which ones they think are likely to transform events. We offer their insights and opinions on this page and in the rest of our July-August CMP Series, What Will Stick?

Vincent Quan

Vincent Quan

First, three board trends:

  • The acceptance of digital forms of communication, interaction, and shopping was accelerated by several years due to the pandemic. It was demonstrated that work could be completed remotely versus in the office with marginal, if any, effects on worker output.
  • Consumers of all generations realized shopping could be done via e-commerce for practically any products, fashion, and otherwise, yet the sensory experience of touch, feel, and taste still resides in a physical environment. Consumers have pivoted quickly to digital but there is still a need for physical shopping.
  • Companies have learned that the global supply chain has its disadvantages rooted in a dependence on crucial raw materials and parts located throughout the world. Take, for instance, the disruptions caused by the shortage of automobile chips, which have completely shut down numerous manufacturing assembly lines during the year.

How do you think that those changes in the acceleration of digital events and ecommerce during the pandemic will change events in the fashion industry and how attendees will want to participate?

The acceleration of virtual runway shows during the pandemic — which would normally take place physically in the major fashion cities of London, Milan, New York, and Paris — have changed the dynamic between designers and their constituents. A fine balance between conducting physical versus virtual runway shows must be achieved through ongoing “experimentation” of both venues [online and in-person] to determine which platform achieves the desired outcomes. Namely, buzz and excitement of the fashion brand must be maximized along with audience and consumer engagement. The ultimate goal of every fashion business is to generate not only hype but sales and profits as well.

Vincent Quan is associate professor of Fashion Business Management at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology).

Become a Member

Get premium access to provocative executive-level education, face-to-face networking and business intelligence.