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Covid and the garment industry

The significant effects Covid has had throughout the garment industry

While the Covid-19 pandemic has hit everyone hard, the garment industry has been particularly ravaged.

Every stage of the production line has felt the effects of the pandemic, from the third-world factories that produce the garments to the high-end retail stores of New York that sell them.

A world closed for business

It has been a challenging year, with self-isolation impacting everyone.

Due to the strict work-at-home order that started in March 2020, the once packed public transportation system and sidewalks of NYC became eerily desolate.

Rolling racks came to a screeching halt. Offices became silent and dark.  Employees were forced to work from home and business owners could no longer afford the already skyrocketing rents of their beautiful showroom’s spaces.

This was just one city, a snapshot of the world as a whole.

How the garment industry have tried to adapt

To adjust to the changes in COVID protocols, some garment companies have tried different approaches on how to sell and who they sell to.

Zoom became the go-to way of conducting meetings. Companies have turned to influencers to promote their brands.  Some have turned to consulting and selling through trunk shows.

Online retail became the main focus of companies that didn’t go bust, yet the reality is that as we are forced to stay in our homes, many of us are financially burdened by layoffs or new childcare responsibilities, and the desire to buy new clothes feels like a distant dream.

Third world textile worker and covid

How Covid affected the people who work in the garment industry

If the end of the supply chain got it tough, the start had it even harder.

The garment industry employs 60 million workers around the world, nearly 75% of whom are women – women who are impoverished, marginalised and vulnerable.

Thousands of factories employing millions of workers closed in the past year, and having little to no rights to begin with, the devastation wrought by Covid has completely ruined many millions of lives throughout the third world.

Millions of these workers who lost their jobs as a result of the virus had no access to social or financial safety nets to help them weather this storm.

Slowly opening up again

Businesses of all kinds have felt a hard hit and have been reinventing and readjusting their brands to keep surviving from Covid-19.

Now that a vaccination is available to most, we are starting to see a slow climb in companies beginning to reopen but with a much lower capacity of employees and smaller office spaces.

According to the Partnership for New York City, only 10 percent of office workers had returned to their workplaces as of early March, a statistic that has remained unchanged since October.

Further stalling the city’s already stressed situation and economy is the fact that larger employers are bringing back workers to their offices at a slower rate. Only 8 percent have returned to the office at companies with more than 1,000 workers.

While many office workers’ mantra of “when-are-we-going-back” has changed to “are-we-ever-going-back”, several fashion businesses reopened months ago in adherence with the Centre for Disease Control’s Covid-19 safety guidelines.

According to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, as of mid-June, 70 percent of adults in New York have been vaccinated.

Nearly all of the state’s coronavirus restrictions have been lifted, a sign that we are finally on the road to recovery, although it may take several years to get back to normal business operations.Designer with COVID mask

We can help in a post-Covid world

It’s difficult to say whether this pandemic has changed the garment industry forever or if it will bounce back with time.

It’s estimated by some that at least 20% of the shops which closed due to Covid-19 will never reopen.

The silver lining of that is many new start-up businesses will emerge out of this lockdown.

A post-pandemic apparel industry needs to be environmentally focused, with a heavy lean towards the workers who make these clothes.

From sourcing raw materials to the treatment of workers, every aspect of the garment industry needs to be careful not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

With over five decades in this business, we have seen a lot of global disruption, but we’re still here.

In fact, our particular business model has helped us survive COVID, and by doing so, we’ve helped our clients survive as well.

Our experience, our connections, and our professionals can help guide you through the most trying times, ensuring you come out the other side of this pandemic with your business intact.

If you would like to know more about how we can help your business in a post-Covid world, then contact us today and let’s talk about the future of fashion and your place in it.