It’s been a tough few months for the fashion industry. The year ahead has looked uncertain, small businesses have had to strategically plan like never before, many have ended up out of work. This sense of security has been too far to reach for fashion’s freelancers, who have often found career stability difficult to come by – even in the pre-pandemic days. With the future still up in the air, will there be a road out for freelancers, and how can brands be of help?
In the UK alone, there are over 5 million freelancers. The ideal model of a business has been frequently reliant on them, hiring designers, writers and other creatives to help create, produce and manufacture. It goes without saying that many small and independent brands will need to reign back on their creative budgets, which could go one of two ways for the fashion freelancer. The obvious fallout would be falling by the wayside. Across the world there is varying governmental support for freelancers, making it all the more important for brands to keep contracts open where possible. However, while the current situation may not fix itself overnight, there could be a creative gap emerging for freelancers to have the long-term last laugh.
According to industry experts, the expansion of the freelance marketplace is extremely likely to receive a much-needed boost. There could be extra alternatives for creative freelancers rising up out of the ashes, many revolving around tech and the digital world. Adding to this, there is a higher chance of small businesses working with relatively inexpensive ability rather than securing fewer full-time members, alongside more opportunities to collaborate amongst themselves. Brands themselves will need to protect this community as much as possible, as there could soon be a significant demand for this type of creativity born from negative circumstances. Despite perhaps being a ‘less keen’ attitude to spending on more discretionary purchases, there are likely to be more measure to help incentivise protection of these business relationships with the self-employed, as well as potential contractual clause changes and legislative needs met – which may take some months. If we think back to 2008, there was a distinct rise in ‘permalancers’, meaning those employed were doing the jobs of salaried workers at a much more reasonable rate. For both parties to succeed together, we will now need more a regulated balance, starting with freelancers being recognised and supported as part of our brand staff. In the face of low consumer self-esteem and extended financial downturn, fashion freelancers could be an undiscovered treasure for small brands to help them bounce back with renewed, creative flair.
Photo credit: https://www.pexels.com/@rethaferguson