The lockdown validated the shift to omni-channel business
Contributor: OLIVIER GUYOT
Stores were closed March 17 to May 11. In April, the IFM Economic Observatory estimated that sales of apparel and textile products had collapsed by 74.6%: sales on the internet, on the other hand, had grown by 22% compared to 2019. The lockdown clearly validated the shift to omni-channel business.
Big international e-commerce players like Amazon (even if strikes in France slowed its activity), Zalando or Farfetch as well as digital native, vertical brands with a strong community such as Sezane seem to have scored a lot. Retailers who invested in their digital platform before the pandemic, i.e. Celio in the mass market, The Kooples and Ba&Sh in the contemporary segment or Balenciaga in luxury also benefitted.
However, one month after the end of the lockdown, consumers are coming back to the stores. We don’t really see any ‘Revenge Shopping’, but brands and retailers are seeing growing traffic week after week. In Paris, Galeries Lafayette and Printemps finally reopened their department stores on Boulevard Haussmann at the end of May. That was a really positive signal for all the brands sold on their floors, big and small, established and new alike.
hLes Galeries Lafayette, Champs Elysées without tourists
STREET & FASHION
T-shirts and dresses lead the way
It is clear that the kids business has had a great rebound during May. Parents needed to update their children’s wardrobe for the summer. During the lockdown, there was a great appetite for loungewear, sweatshirts and leggings. Now, dresses and T-shirts are the most sought-after products as consumers rush to enjoy the summer outside. Overall, however, it’s hard to identify clear-cut trends. Some brands bet on colorful products, but most of the players say that they won’t take too many risks in their collections for the next few seasons.
One thing for sure: brands and designers who have been proactive in communicating with their community during the lockdown are in a better position to grow again. After months of non-commercially focused communication via newsletter and social networks, they are now able to come back to their clients with offers and invite them back into their stores without sounding ruthlessly commercial.
Is the supply chain ready for a big switch?
The French Government is on a mission to encourage reshoring and production in France. During the lockdown, many players in the French textile Industry worked together to produce masks. That was a great Made in France moment and the Government wants to capitalise on the momentum created. This mission, led by Guillaume de Seynes, president of the Strategie Industry Committee (Comité stratégique de filière mode et luxe) not only wants to investigate building production in France but also to create new models for French industry centered on eco-design, recycled materials, re-use and production on demand.
Meanwhile, during the lockdown, brands leaders also looked deeper into sustainability approaches not just through re-shoring but also by trying to improve the role of eco materials in their lines. So, we’ll probably see an acceleration on this front, but there are also big grey areas. How can young designers and small eco-focused brands keep sourcing responsibly if they have to compete with fashion giants? Is the supply chain ready for a big switch? If consumers have less disposable income after the pandemic, will they still be concerned about eco and, above all, will they be ready to pay for it?