Although no industry has been immune to the impact of COVID-19, the current pandemic has had an especially devastating effect on the fashion space. According to the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s recent report, with foot traffic in retail and recreation shrinking by 44% in the US and more than 50 percent in many countries around the world, fashion and luxury segments have been hit harder than many other consumer goods and services. The majority of apparel manufacturing facilities have been impacted by order cancellations or suspensions, resulting in mass layoffs and factory closures. With losses mounting, some companies will not survive the crisis. From J. Crew, famous for its preppy basics, to Neiman Marcus, a high-end department store chain, a growing number of already-struggling companies have been filing for bankruptcy.
Although fashion’s role in the global economy cannot be underestimated - clothing retailers, department stores, and cosmetics outlets employ millions of people and generate hundreds of billions in annual revenue – the industry has been criticized as “broken” long before the pandemic. In an effort to continuously grow sales, designers have been churning out collection after collection, ramping up production, while significantly discounting merchandise and sacrificing quality of products and sustainability of operations.