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How COVID-19 has Affected the Fashion Industry

The fashion industry, like many others, has taken major hits during the pandemic. Many department stores worldwide have closed, and major retailers and brands have had to send employees in their facilities to furlough and file for bankruptcy. Also, fashion events and shows, such as the Met Gala, have been put off indefinitely. After experiencing all of these losses, fashion experts have had to adapt to changes and modify the way they operate.


Financial Problems

Brands such as Reitmans and J.Crew have been experiencing financial repercussions from the pandemic; many companies were going under creditor protection in May and June. The financial struggle has also affected companies on a global scale, having more than one million people in garment factories fired. Fashion stocks have plummeted in the past year in sync with the spread of COVID-19.

Modelling and Events

With travel restrictions put in place, it makes it difficult to advertise photo and video shoots. To work from home, models have been doing home photoshoots. Clothing is shipped to their houses, and directors help remotely. For example, french model Héloïse Guéri has her husband Victor Demarchelier help conduct photoshoots. With models and influencers having to take their photos at home, they have slightly more control over their own images. Guéri said, “Even though we had a lot of Zoom meetings with the clients, they still left us plenty of room for creativity and freedom, which we really appreciated...It was so much more fun than being ‘just a model,’ and felt very rewarding.”


In terms of how some fashion events are conducted, most would need to go virtual, while others plan to go forward with pre-planned summits and trade shows.



Recently, there has been a surge in the number of second-hand shoppers, which could be due to the financial security of many people being changed during the pandemic. Second-hand retail sites, such as Thredup, have seen the number of users multiple by the double digits since 2017. Second-hand shopping is possibly one clothing trend that isn’t going away, considering how many people love vintage fashion. The stigma of second-hand clothing has changed. Thrifting sites have allowed for others to profit easily from the comfort of their own home, as the pandemic has led more people to consider the future of their closets.

Bolder Looks

Since earlier this year, peoples views on how they dress has changed significantly. During quarantine, the ability to go out and dress up has passed away. It’s uncertain how most new fashion trends have begun, but one idea could be because of the boredom people felt during quarantine and the fact they continue to have fewer opportunities to go out and dress up. Due to these infrequent opportunities to go outside, people may take the chance to dress up and experiment with different colours and styles found in their wardrobe.



Fashion brands have pivoted to make more fashionable reusable masks, which is incredibly important due to the shortage of PPE during the pandemic. In doing so, these brands have helped provide safety and awareness.

Needed Changes

The pandemic might have shown experts how “broken” the fashion industry is. In order to do that, there needs to be a shift in mindset. Apparels and start-ups need to start rebuilding their business models to accommodate COVID requirements, meaning in the event of a lockdown, companies need to be prepared to work and sell remotely. There are some other core changes to the industry that might need to be changed. Iman Amed, expert and editor in chief of the business of fashion, suggests that fashion shows could be an issue. Fashion shows display collections on runways every winter and fall, but designs don’t go into stores until a month later. This fact is apparent considering that anyone can watch a fashion show from their own home. Fashion shows were also supposed to be meant for fashion experts, but now they are so accessible that anyone can watch it. “You can’t just imagine a movie premiere happening six months before the movie is released,” said Amed. Reaching customers early wastes the show’s effectiveness in marketing.


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Article Author: Idil Gure

Article Editors: Edie Whittington, Victoria Huang