At a time when we're seeing small businesses close their doors during the Covid-19 pandemic, it's certainly started to re-shape the way that the fashion industry operates, especially for small, independent businesses. So, we ask just how can alternative fashion businesses pave the way for a reset on the industry during these testing times?
Most businesses now have been changing the way that they operate during lock-down for the past two months. We've seen some companies choose to close temporarily, whilst others have opted to change the way that they process and deliver orders.
Whilst these temporary measures have allowed some alternative businesses to continue to trade during these uncertain times, just how do they carry on going forward?
During the pandemic customers have been continuing to shop from home. Being able to order direct from your favourite alternative fashion companies certainly has it's appeal, so we'd hope that online retail is able to continue as close to normal as possible thereafter.
These past few weeks have enabled small businesses to re-think the way that they trade online, and it's possible that the changes that they've already made with regards to order processing could be the future. Dispatching less often, but still allowing customers to order as and when they want to shop from their favourites.
On the other side of online shopping habits, some consumers have already begun to opt out of fast fashion prior to the pandemic, with many choosing to shop less frequently, but focusing on key staple items instead.
The British Fashion Council has already been encouraging brands, designers and retailers, who are used to "fashion's fast, unforgiving pace, to slow down," as they announced their plans to reset the fashion industry along with the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
Looking to reduce the pace of the fashion industry, with the focus on less is more with fewer fashion collections. Whilst these goals are more in mind with the mainstream side of the industry, a lot could be attributed towards the alternative fashion industry - where most of the big brands in the industry already tend to focus on twice yearly seasonal collections.
Focusing on smaller seasonal collections could be the way forward, especially considering the current limitations with regards to manufacturing during lock-down. The same can also be said for supply of materials for businesses that operate 'in house', who often create their wares on an 'as and when' basis, as opposed to ready to wear garments.
The future of the industry is still uncertain at present, with up to 30% of businesses estimated to close during the crisis in the mainstream fashion industry. As for how many alternative fashion businesses will be affected we can't say. We'd like to hope that as many businesses as possible could survive the pandemic and continue to trade afterwards, but with companies like Lindy Bop already undergoing administration at the start of the pandemic, the future is really uncertain for our industry.
As for alternative fashion on the high street, that's another big uncertainly. With shops already closed for several weeks, only the online side of the industry has been able to continue trading in a fashion. Adding an online presence will certainly be a great addition to allow many of these alternative retailers to continue to trade.
Then there's the question of maintaining social distancing for alternative fashion shops on the high street. There's certainly a lot of work to be undertaken before any shops can safely re-open to the public. At the time of writing, the current legislation is set towards allowing non-essential businesses to open in England from June 15th. However, that still does seem far too soon for any business to be able to open safely.
Just how do you plan for social distancing in a retail shop? Especially as a small, independent business. There's certainly plenty to be considered, and these measures will already have to be adapted in store before opening to the public.
We just hope that this, coupled along with the already rising high street rent rates and costs, doesn't signal the closure of alternative fashion shops in the near future.
For the time being, all we can do as customers is help support our favourite alternative businesses in whatever way we can, and hope that one day in the future, we'll be able to shop with them once again.
Image credits (in order shown): Corn exchange © Johnbraid via Dreamstime | Darlington Borough Council via Flickr