The novel coronavirus is indeed a human tragedy that has ravaged hundreds of thousands of life. With its growing impact on the global economy, its effect is steadily trickling down to affecting the lifestyle of people in all regards. With the governments across board launching unprecedented public-health and economic responses, there is a daily evolution and which in turn is changing the face of fashion industry in Africa.
According to Dianna Vreeland, “Fashion is part of the daily air and it changes all the time, with all events. You can even see the approaching of a revolution in clothes. You can see and feel everything in clothes.”
Fashion is a germane facet that is imbued in one of the basic need of life (clothing), but we will not shy from the fact that fashion is a secondary need during the ongoing pandemic and not necessity, like food and medical care.
Frankly, the post-COVID-19 customer won’t be an emotional buyer again, but an emerging realistic and logical buyer when buying clothing products. Then, the posing question is how would you apposition your brand to feed people like that? This is a lingering factor that needs to be triggered in minds towards the face change of fashion industry in Africa.
According to Dolekoglu (2008), the major determining factors affecting consumer buying behavior are quality, price, trust, availability, frequent advertisement, sales promotion, brand image, freshness and habits.
However, the triggering factors that affect fashion enthusiasts’ shopping behavioral pattern are brand reputation, brand value, simulation/trial facilities, and personalization possibilities and store attractiveness with respect to products and services. Hence, African consumers have become more open-minded and experimental in this regard. Fashion is a trillion-dollar industry employing millions of people not only in emerging economies like we have in Africa but across the globe. Sequel to this changing landscape, fashion shoppers are affected to a great extent by these swift changes.
In furtherance, it has been gathered that the African fashion industry has been experiencing some changes in the last few decades. This is no exception to the fast-evolving fashion industry whose best plans and activities fail amid economic change and actions of competitors. At post-independence, there was string of changes in the African fashion industry where dressing style was chiefly influenced with the effects of globalization, and which consequently led to the fusion of African and western dresses.
Generally, for African fashion brands to be outstanding at post-COVID-19, they need to have a focal point on storytelling around benefit, purpose, values, experience, and authenticity.
Current Fears Of African Fashion Industry
1. How will the novel pandemic change the fashion and retail business?
2. What would the impact be on the manufacturers of our clothes?
3. Would African fashion industry be able to recover from the heavy blow of the pandemic on the industry?
These are poignant fears that might need to be allayed for the fashion industry in Africa to fare well.
“If you don’t understand the consumer and his mood right now and you’re doing things as usual, you’re not going to get any business,” said Walter Loeb, president of Loeb associates, a consulting firm.
Nevertheless, it is evident that there are some learned lessons from the pandemic hiatus and and its depression trance. Some of them are:
1. Fashion brands had to rethink their design. Some had to approach Maximalism or Minimalism.
2. Fashion shoppers became more conservative.
3. It affected the customers’ buying behavior.
4. Fashion brands had to become more affordable with high level of integrity.
5. Fashion brands were more about delivering just value.
Broadly, the impact of the pandemic on clothing manufacturers is an effect on the employment level in the fashion industry, especially this period that demand for clothes is dropping. This will in turn reduce cost (labor, cost of production, and cost of sales) for fashion companies.
On a fortunate scale, this is a good time to reset and reshape. A perfect time to reflect inward on what resources can be well harnessed, where quality fabrics can be locally sourced, and how these products can be transported without the need to travel.
Would African Fashion Industry Recover?
The perfect answer is Yes, it will. We can always expect business survival to suffice over profitability in short term. Reimagine what the new normal would be and try fixing them into your business model.
Conclusively, the global community is currently paying attention to African fashion, as there is an itching appetite across the world for African designers to curate new lines, serve local consumers, and enter global markets.