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Post-Recession Fashion: What Can We Learn?

Post-Recession Fashion: What Can We Learn?

23 March 2020
Author: Jasmine Waters

It’s pretty safe to assume that your social media feeds are currently full of posts concerning only one thing: our faithful friend COVID-19. For a lot of us, we are entering an extremely uncertain time both professionally and personally, and we should be transparent in acknowledging and accepting that. However, that doesn’t mean our situation should bring bad news for us or our businesses – in fact, we are now approaching an intriguing and interesting time in the quest for harnessing change and making the industry better for all.

Over the next few posts, we’ll be looking at some of the many ways fashion could change for good, and how we can make the best of a bad situation! 

In a recent interview with Dezeen, renowned trend forecaster Li Edelkoort advised that the coronavirus pandemic could provide a “blank page for a new beginning”, with industries needing to adapt to the profound cultural and economic impact it may have, from supply chains to networks and change in demand. She predicts that consumers will learn to rediscover old favourite products instead of their current initial instinct to buy additional ones. But how accurate is this? A great way of establishing exactly what we might see is looking to what has come before – just how trends themselves are realised.

After the 2008 recession, consumers considerably cut back on spending, plunging retailers into a rush to clear inventory and increase prices by around 70% (US consumer statistics). Product design itself proved to be the saviour in finding a way to drive consumers forward, particularly thanks to smaller brands (just like many we work with on a regular basis) as opposed to big named chains. This lead to what became known as ‘start-up minimalism’, a dominant style of branding that was stripped back, and perfect for growing digital consumption. The brands themselves became more personable, with both advertising and products embodying a friendly tone, creating a sense of shared values.

Many of these attributes are ones we already see in a lot of great brands, which is really positive news for going forward. One rule of thumb we can always count on is that above all else, consumers will always value connection, authenticity, transparency and quality – and that is something that will never change. What we may see a shift in is a rise in the ‘minimal’ – both in terms of aesthetics (plain fabrics, neutral colour palettes) and quantity of buying. Spending will be a concern for many modern consumers, but this shouldn’t deter brands as it is an age-old story. The potential changes in industry provide chances for much-needed growth and change, with brands being able to deepen the connection with their customer base in a variety of ways. If they feel valued, understood and cared for (something which can be nicely achieved through digital and social means), there is a much greater chance of consumers staying loyal and weathering the storm alongside your brand.


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