The Key for Fashion Brands to Deal with Uncertainties during Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many industrial sectors, and the fashion industry is not an exception. Right now, fashion brands are being tested for their acumen and ingenuity in the face of a global slowdown, a drastic decline in demand, and uncertainty, as well as the ability to see and take advantage of opportunities amid this unexpected situation.

During the “Fashion Brand Strategy during COVID-19 Pandemic” online talk show that was conducted on Wednesday, 6 May 2020, Stella Rissa, the founder and fashion designer of STELLARISSA, said that the pandemic has affected the fashion industry in a certain way.

First, the lockdown and requirement to self-quarantine has made it impossible for people to gather and assemble in a crowd. This situation clearly harms fashion brands that depend on fashion shows as well as private and public viewing. Therefore, fashion brands are forced to find a new way to display their collections in an interesting yet engaging way. Many fashion brands, Stella explained, try to tackle this problem by strengthening their presence on the internet and social media.

The pandemic has also caused the world to slowdown, which resulted in a drastic decline in demand for fashion products. The prohibition of leaving the house causes a shift in needs because people do not need to appear in public. Hence, fashion brands need to shift gear and rethink their production and marketing strategies.

However, this pandemic does not only bring negative impacts. Stella said that the global slowdown has provided a moment for fashion practitioners to take a breath and make proper plans. “This is also the right time for creative individuals who are planning to start a fashion business to make business and collection plans because we have a lot of spare time to do so,” she explained.

Dealing with Uncertainties during the Pandemic

Stella admits that she herself doesn’t have any particular strategy to face this COVID-19 pandemic. However, it doesn’t mean that she, as a fashion entrepreneur just passively accepts her fate, goes with the flow, and simply hopes for the best.

“Who’s ready for this situation? This pandemic happened so suddenly. That’s why, as individuals who want to own business, you must have a right mentality,” she said.

Stella said that an entrepreneur must have the right mentality, either for dealing with sudden success, borrowing money to inject capital, facing the production failure, learning new marketing strategies, and dealing with sudden significant global changes and uncertainties like this pandemic. The right mentality will enable you to take the right course and action, spot new opportunities, and make a new marketing strategy immediately.

This pandemic and the slowdown it has caused provide more time for fashion entrepreneurs to observe the market and the shifting in people’s behavior. Through observation and research, entrepreneurs then will be able to decide what kind of fashion products to offer and what kind of strategy needs to be implemented.

According to Stella, one significant change in the market is the increasing need for loungewear and home clothes. The inability to go outside has shifted the needs for fashion collections, where now people look for clothes that are comfortable to wear daily at home.

Another item that is currently in a high demand is masks. Uniquely, Stella chooses not to sell masks, but distribute them free to people in need. “I choose to distribute the masks free because I feel that that is my responsibility as an Indonesian citizen to help flatten the curve,” Stella explained.

Furthermore, there is a noticeable change in the market’s behavior: during this economic slowdown, people tend to prioritize what they actually need, not what they want. The slowdown also caused them to seek more affordable products.

An entrepreneur, as the owner of the fashion brand, can only notice these aspects by having the right attitude. In addition, the right attitude will also enable an entrepreneur to think more wisely and adapt to many more changes – including those that will occur post-pandemic – as well as to plan and execute the strategies more cautiously.

“Be mentally prepared, be wise, be innovative, and be aware of what the market needs and demands,” she said.