The COVID-19 is forcing stores to close; brands are canceling or postponing orders and deferring payments to supply chain partners. Thus, making the apparel manufacturers the most vulnerable group during the crisis, as the factories they work in run on razor-thin margins.
Why brands need to Pull up their Socks?
A few days back, the local fashion supply chain workers faced unprecedented layoffs as many brands in the U.S. and France shut their production. The workers are living in a tight spot as they had already bought the material and credit salary. Although brands don’t pay for the products until they are shipped, things got worse for the local artisans as orders in bulk got canceled. These circumstances left local suppliers on the hook for both their workers’ salaries and, because they buy their materials outright, for what they owe their suppliers. The pandemic has already prompted tens of thousands of layoffs and job suspensions. Still, millions more could be at risk in countries like Bangladesh with limited access to healthcare and no social safety net.
If we look at the statistics, around 4 million people have lost their jobs alone in Bangladesh, which was a direct fall out of some of the world’s most influential fashion brands canceling orders due to the closures and layoffs precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic. Though the government is offering relief funds to the workers in need, still some of the factory owners believe it is not enough. The world is facing down a severe recession, but some of the countries in the South-Asian regions have suffered the hardest hit. As a sign of silver lining, there is a start-up which inspires the leading fashion houses to learn something.
How a Start-up working towards Ethical Fashion?
Founders of the start-up, Rasheed Khan and May Yang, started the enterprise in the name Lidia May. The company trains and employs local artisan women to handcraft sculptural leather bags are witnessing the financial and societal devastation first-hand. The enterprise was started in the year 2015, and it is the only fashion company that remained unaffected by recent events. For some time now, they’ve been working to create a structural model that is socially equitable and inclusive and has longevity. Though May is quarantined back home in Boston, Rasheed is working hard to perform the day-to-day operations in Dhaka.
While giving an interview with Vogue Magazine, Rasheed Khan explains why it is essential to support and care for workers. He says, “When we set up this company, we set out to go against this very capitalistic idea that you will tell everyone via P.R. that you love your workers and you take care of your staff—they’re like your family—but then the first thing you do in a crisis is fire people and reduce your labor force. That is completely mind-boggling to me.” He further added, “As far as you can, you need to protect your people.”
How Customization and Privatization Can Serve the Purpose of Ethical Fashion?
Brands and suppliers are now held responsible as the pandemic exposed their mall practices. The outbreak of the virus also teaches the fashion houses an essential lesson that it is the right time to go from global to local. It is a widely known fact that the COVID-19 has disrupted the supply chain very severely, and it is because of this reason; the world will face the downtime of recession very soon. But we can together bring out the fashion industry from this turbulent time.
These days, fashion enthusiasts not only want a level of freshness in their products but also in the entire shopping experience. As is the case across many industries, shoppers increasingly want brands to speak to them with the same level of relevance, whether they are on an iPad or browsing in a store. During this time, offering them customization and personalization opportunities can come handy. The leading manufacturers from a wide range of sectors, including apparel, luxury, footwear, caps, hoodies, and many more, can contact the local artisans. The online custom design software will help the manufacturers and retailers to go local. Manufacturers can ask the latter to make embroidered designs for shoes, bags, jackets, and put it up on the business site. They can offer an opportunity for buyers to design their clothes from the picture or pre-designed product and give a touch of their style. By installing the custom design tool on the site, they combine the two worlds, that is, the customers can design clothes, and the pattern they select, the artisans will make it.
Let’s consider an example to understand the scenario better; you are a T-shirt manufacturer; you wish to offer customization services to your end-users. You already have some pre-designed t-shirts because the customer won’t start from scratch. The local workers make the pre-designed product, you upload the design on the website, from where the buyers can decide what more or less do they want in the t-shirt. You already have the custom design software that will enable you that will allow the customization process, and the design consumer chose, you can again order the workers to make it. In this way, you are empowering the customers as well as the local workers. And, the supply chain won’t ever be disrupted in the future at any cost.
To sum up the blog, today, what we are witnessing has never happened in the past. The outbreak has disrupted the economy of the entire world, let alone the fashion sector. As they say, let bygone be bygone, as our future lies ahead and its onus to make it happier and brighter. The fashion industry can learn from its mistakes and revamp the entire supply chain. iDesigniBuy is a leading fashion tech company that offers customization solutions to manufacturers and retailers working in this domain. Its custom design software is a step forward towards ethical fashion.
If you too, want to dive in the new stream,