Empty catwalks in Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks A/W 2020 signalled the start of something that will turn the fashion industry upside down. Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, France and the rest of the world is taking on board the advice to #CancelEverything for the foreseeable future. But where does this leave the fashion system that still prefers, at large, to do things the traditional way face-to-face and in person? Forced self-isolation has meant that fashion professionals are needing to embrace digital solutions and processes in order to keep business as usual. Wholesale buying meetings are being digitized through the use of virtual showrooms, e-commerce channels are seeing a boost in experience and engagement tools being deployed such as AR & VR, designers are going virtual, and the entire supply chain is quickly scrambling to keep production going. All of this is certainly a test to see whether the fashion industry can actually go digital and to what extent.
Fashion Technology companies and their solutions are certainly helping, and now is the time for them to shine. For example, solutions such as that by our partners Lectra and TG3D studio with 3D design and digital prototyping tools are greatly aiding the work from home design studios. Joor, Rails and NuOrder are wholesale platforms specifically designed to aid the buying process between the fashion brand and the retailers, which NuOrder is graciously currently waiving their fees to help with the financial worries that all stakeholders will be facing during the current global crisis. To help with communication between manufacturers and brands, companies like AirTable that creates technical feedback documents, are efficiently getting vital information between teams around the world.
However, the question here is not whether the tools are out there or not, considering many have been out there for a while. The questions is exactly how ready and capable are the fashion professionals needing to use them instantly without prior training or personal inclination to embed digital into their daily working routines. By the end of the Coronavirus pandemic we will see exactly how far the industry has come with this heightened and temporary forced digitalisation, and whether this will actually stick around for the longer term.
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