Fashion executives have spent the lockdown figuring out how to sell their products online. They’re learning lessons that may shape the retail trade even as America’s shopping malls reopen.
That’s just one of the abrupt changes forced on an industry highly attuned to shifting trends. Here’s another: If customers are more likely to be buying clothes from home, they’re more likely to wear them there too. In the absence of dress-up events, there’s a surge in demand for comfort.
From food to furniture, businesses are mapping out what they expect to be the new patterns of demand — and repositioning their companies accordingly. Fashion has faced some of the worst upheaval of all.
In the pandemic’s early stages, Americans all but stopped buying clothes. Sales plunged almost 90%, four times the drop in overall commerce. The }” itemprop=”suid”>Sales held up because pandemic-era demand was a good match for Pawling’s offerings. “I have friends that run brands that don’t sell the most comfortable clothing on earth, and they’re not experiencing the same thing.”
She quickly sold out of some items, and had to figure out how to speed up shipments from suppliers in Peru or Indonesia. She’s in talks with a U.S. factory that could deliver quicker — though it’ll also cost more. And with trade shows canceled, she’s working on creative ways to showcase her collections online instead. Between March and July, “the entire business operations will completely have changed.”
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