Why the big luxury fashion crisis could be a good thing

Fashion has traditionally been a dull industry, especially when it comes to luxury. In the past, creators have been reserved about their processes, just like chefs who often don’t prefer to share the secret behind their recipes. This, of course, has changed over the past couple of years. Consumers are increasingly realizing how much fashion was exploiting the planet and the people who worked within the industry. They got louder asking the question: who made my clothes?

When it comes to issues of sustainability and ethics, transparency is the only way forward. But it also reveals a broader issue: fashion, although a big industry, is fragile. And the pandemic has exposed all the cracks in the system, especially the growing problems in the global supply chain.

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As Priyanka Modi, co-founder and creative director of the AMPM label says, most people see fashion houses “only as places of design and creativity, but in reality our businesses have many more facets, which all have to come together. seamlessly to create an exceptional consumer experience “.

“A key aspect is the realization of these beautiful designs. Different raw materials are used in a collection, all from different suppliers “, he adds.” When even one of them is late or unable to supply, the whole process is affected and the procurement is only the first. step”.

The supply chain, something that was once a hidden process, or rather little talked about, is now the focal point of the industry. The pandemic, among other reasons, resulted in clogged ports, product shortages and overloaded container ships, resulting in higher prices and production delays. It is a reality that is gradually educating the consumer of luxury on how fragile this apparently glamorous sector is.

Fashion does not bring joy

Fashion has always had an inevitable system that went from spring / summer to autumn / winter on autopilot. If anything, overproduction was a problem. Now you will hear luxury consumers complaining about the lack of good products on the market and that the joy has gone out of style.

And they are not wrong. According to the annual report “The State of Fashion”, published by Business of Fashion and McKinsey, “About half of global companies experienced supply chain disruptions in 2021, with one in eight severely affected. combination of global and local factors, including material and component shortages, transportation bottlenecks, staff unavailability and increased shipping costs. ” More than 85 percent of fashion executives surveyed expect supply chain disruptions to negatively impact their business, the report adds.

This means that the consumer will have to get used to irregular goods and multiple interruptions at the retail level. Hopefully, this will force the industry to focus on the products the consumer actually wants instead of what the industry wants the consumer to buy. “It is now important for a brand to know which products work with their ethics and to focus on them,” says couturier Amit Aggarwal.

For independent labels, the problem is more acute. Modi of AMPM, “I think I speak for all my colleagues when I say that the minimum order quantity (MOQ) is still an issue for small and medium-sized businesses, especially when they want to partner with good suppliers. Paper mills or large suppliers that have some of the best quality materials usually work with very high MOQs or require high prices for small quantities, which creates a conundrum for small businesses. “

Things are even worse for couture labels. Mumbai-based designer Payal Singhal says: “Skilled labor is scarce and that means our production will be scarce. This means that we will likely see fewer embroidered products on the market, because there will be less access to embroidery. This will inevitably raise prices for the final consumer ”.

As a result, 2022 will be a year of high prices for fashion. industry. On the plus side, high prices could force the often overly indulgent luxury consumer to learn the art of buying less and better, and also make the regular consumer look to rent for their wardrobe.

The pandemic ensured that all these problems were in the open. As Aggarwal notes, “Over the past year and a half we have seen that while the whole world has gone on such an unexpected wave of emotion, in terms of fashion, people still want to buy niche and unique products.”

We’ve seen hashtags like #vocalforlocal and #handmadeinindia become a de rigueur part of the digital landscape. However, customers must be careful not to be fooled. “Some designers are moving towards digital. We, as a label, don’t do it because we believe in working with an original craft…, but many other companies have started doing digital embroidery, ”says Singhal.

Time for a return

On a positive note, however, Modi explains, the industry appears to have become “more organized because of these problems and more careful about how much to produce, as well as more analytical towards stock distribution. This applies to everyone in the supply chain.”

Her label, which is gearing up for its 20th anniversary, for example, emerged from the pandemic as a complete solution for a woman’s ready-to-wear wardrobe. Aggarwal recently opened a flagship store in Colaba, Mumbai, and her couture line is trying to redefine the language of bridal fashion. Singhal has opened a second store in Mumbai and occupies a space in the Aza multi-brand store in Delhi. Brands are trying to reinvent themselves to meet consumer needs and the times we live in.

The price goes up aside (and nobody likes them), this could be the best and hopefully most responsible year in a long time.

Dress Sense is a monthly fashion column that takes a look at the clothes we wear every day and what they mean to us.

Sujata Assomull is a journalist, author and a keen advocate of fashion.

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