The Lasting Effect of COVID-19 on the Fashion Industry

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It’s no exaggeration to say that the world has been flipped on its head by the COVID-19 pandemic. After almost a year of lockdowns and working from home, many industries have suffered catastrophically, including the fashion industry. As people are stuck home with nowhere to go, companies are losing millions of dollars as stores continue to close and people seem to be less focused on material items. The lack of “retail therapy” has left many finding other ways to focus on their mental wellbeing and left the fashion industry reeling. 

“I think it’s an opportunity for all of us to look at our industry and to look at our lives, and to rethink our values, and to really think about the waste, and the amount of money, and consumption, and excess… we really need to rethink what this industry stands for,” says Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour when speaking on how the industry will react to the pandemic.  

As fashion shows around the globe turn virtual and online orders become the next best option to heading to the mall, there is sure to be a lasting effect on the fashion industry in the years to come.

Solidifying the use of digital platforms 

If there is one thing that brands have learned this year, it would be how to engage with their consumers online. Many of the brands that chose to participate in fashion weeks in 2020 did so completely virtually; this invited a wider audience to view high-end collections at the same time as everyone else for free and from the comfort of home. Additionally, since stores can no longer use store displays to sell their items, creative digital campaigns have been used to entice online shoppers.

As the years go on, it is very plausible that we will see online shows and campaigns become the main way to sell clothing, not just an added bonus to in-person shopping. Consumers have become accustomed to the ease of online shopping, and digital content allows for a wider audience.

 Bye Bye Boutiques?

While it may not be a huge deal for high-end, luxury brands to make the switch online, the same cannot be said for local businesses and boutiques. Small boutiques often lack the online following and resources to switch to digital shopping without serious repercussions. Since these smaller brands rely mainly on the in-person shopping experience to make sales, the continued shift towards online shopping and digital campaigns may prove detrimental.


The pandemic has forced many of us to reflect on ourselves and our habits, both good and bad. The fashion industry as a whole has also had plenty of time to reflect on its successes and failures from the past decade and beyond. One of the main failures that has been brought to light more recently, is the industry’s lack of sustainability. Customers have clearly expressed their dissatisfaction towards the harmful and wasteful practices of brands; the pause caused by the pandemic seems to have provided the time needed for the fashion industry to listen.

According to Caroline Rush CBE, BFC Chief Executive, “It is essential to look at the future and the opportunity to change, collaborate, and innovate… the current pandemic is leading us all to reflect more poignantly on the society we live in and how we want to live our lives and build businesses when we get through this. The other side of this crisis, we hope, will be about sustainability, creativity, and products that you value, respect, cherish.” 

Bold new styles 

Some of the world’s greatest fashion moments have come following massive historical events, and you can be sure that the global pandemic we are currently living through will be no different. Creativity seems to be booming as the rest of the world has been forced to stay still, as we have already seen bold creations coming from this year’s fashion shows.

Masks, for example, are no longer worn just for health and safety. They have now become a staple part of any outfit, with an abundance of patterns and colors to choose from. Loungewear has also made a huge comeback this year as people have opted to rock comfier looks while stuck working from home. These new trends are ones that will likely stick around for a while, as they have already left a massive impression on today’s fashion.

Jenna Legge

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