The COVID-19 situation has left the world shaken, as it is something the world has never experienced before. Not only has the virus turned into a global pandemic but, it has also impacted people from all walks of life and all social and economic statuses. This coronavirus situation has led to an immense impact on customer’s willingness to spend money or, perhaps more accurately, their perception of spending money especially on luxury brands. The consumers are perceiving their financial situations in a controlling way, this has particularly affected the luxury fashion market. There is no doubt that despite the losses caused by pandemic the fashion industry will bounce back, but the question arises when and in what format. The luxury fashion brands post lockdown should be taking into consideration a number of elements.
Introduction of luxury fashion
“Luxury fashion is anything that is desirable and more than necessary and ordinary.”
The definition of luxury fashion has been changing with time and scenarios. There has been an evolution in the fashion world, luxury now isn’t about selling the dream but about creating an emotional response and the feel-good factor it generates. Luxury fashion is an extremely complex concept, its no more straightforward arms race of craftsmanship between the likes of different luxury fashion brands. The authenticity and heritage of luxury fashion brands are highly prized by the fashion world consumers. Now the luxury fashion brands excite consumer’s imagination with stupendous shows, leading them to the extent that they will fulfill the out-of-the-price-range lust for a couture bomber jacket with a $90 perfume, or $40 eyeliner.
Did luxury brands enhance the fashion culture?
The fashion world’s relationship with luxury has become more multi-faceted, and subtly nuanced. It will not be wrong to say that luxury fashion brands brought in the fashion culture, earlier it was used as a social segregation tool, the expensive garments distinguished the upper classes from the lower. From serving wealthy women and their daughters in the 80s with couture clothing needs to haute couture runways, famous fashion designer labels, and red-bottomed shoes today, it has transformed the definition of the fashion world.
Later with time luxury brands realized they require scalability, they can’t do with only one store, to set foot and make a mark at newer and flourishing markets, they chose India.
When did luxury fashion arrive in the country?
Luxury brands invested in India as the Indian consumer market is at a growing stage, globalization and exposure have promoted the desire of Indian consumers to wear luxury. The increasing income and rising middle-class sector gave international luxury brands a reason to invest in India.
Somewhere around 2010 international luxury brands stepped in the country’s fashion market. Although there is a minor difference in European and Indian prices, still India is cheaper than in many other countries, some products are about 30% cheaper here than in Dubai. As Indians started exploring and traveling, they became aware of luxury brands, they understood how in the luxury fashion branding scene, the ‘brand name’, is everything. The brand logo started attracting the Indian consumers and this led to a loyal relationship between the consumers and their chosen luxury brand.
The internet played an essential role in expanding luxury fashion, people learned to keep up with the latest fashion trends and celebrity looks. Luxury consumption increased in the country over the years although there was a drop during demonetization, and several financial initiatives like GST, cash limit, etc. Now is the other major hit the luxury brands are facing, they have pivoted to address urgent public health needs.
As the country closes in on becoming the world’s sixth-largest fashion market, international brands partnered with Indian fashion designers to resonate better with the customers. India’s established luxury designers like Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Shantanu & Nikhil, Manish Malhotra, TarunTahiliani, and others have also played an essential role in spreading the luxury market in the country.
How sustainability in luxury was already impacting the industry?
In recent years, Millenials moved towards sustainable fashion brands and designers. Due to the basic principle of supply and demand, luxury fashion companies took action and made steps to a greener future. A study shows that global leather goods market was USD 93.2 billion in 2016, Retail stores had the major share of 90%, but with increasing awareness among people and organizations like PETA becoming even stronger, there was a fall in luxury fashion. The consumers started looking forward to sustainable fashion instead of fast and luxury fashion, which led to a major drop in the sales of luxury leather bags and shoes.
How has COVID-19 hit the luxury market?
The COVID-19 pandemic has given a deserted look to the entire world, India’s luxury market may not be as huge as China’s or most European countries, but its growing list of billionaires is noticeable. This pandemic may lead to a major change in the consumers’ mindset and that further will underpin their luxury buying decisions.
The luxury market is in massive chaos, but the industry is trying to redesign its business models. It is speculated that COVID-19 can bring down global luxury sales between 30 billion Euros to 40 billion Euros. The pandemic is not kind to Luxury French conglomerate Kering’s brand Gucci, it witnessed a revenue plunge of 22% in the first quarter, Saint Laurent’s sales fell by 13%. The global decline in the luxury market represents how these brands depend on China for sales.
In India particularly the sales are speculated to go down anywhere between 60%- 80% in the first quarter of the financial year 2020-21, as a large part of the spring-summer collection has already arrived for most famous fashion designers, but lack of footfall and consumers unwillingness to invest into fashion has left the designers with more stock and fewer orders.
The luxury designer TarunTahiliani recently became a part of Stimulus 2020, a webinar encompassing 70 speakers across 14-panel discussions, the event was organized to cut through the volume of despair surrounding the current COVID-19 scenario. The designer expressed his views on the impact of COVID-19 on the fashion industry, he said that this period is going to be disastrous for luxury artisans as its almost the second time they are getting impacted over a small period; first being demonetization. The luxury designers are aware of the fact that consumers won’t continue with lavish spending as everyone’s hit by this pandemic, click on the link to read designers views in detail about the situation https://bit.ly/2XZ10dq
Are fashion institutes suffering due to COVID-19?
The outbreak of COVID-19 has set off the alarm bell all across the country and no sector has been left unaffected. The education sector too has been hit hard by the virus as all the schools and colleges have been shut down due to the lockdown. Fashion institutes and colleges have also been shut down until the lockdown ends. This has disrupted the aspiring designer’s regular academic routines. Fashion institutes have either postponed or canceled their examinations. Keeping the student’s health at their utmost priority, many colleges have started their online classes and workshops to minimize the loss of students and their creativity. Although with these virtual classes students are not able to learn things as easily as they used to do in their workshops and studios, the unprecedented situation has left some of the fashion students stuck in countries like Italy, London, and the US.
How is the luxury sector dealing with the situation?
These uncertain times require luxury companies to take action to “navigate the now,” plan for the recovery in the future.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, every industry’s first priority is to protect the health and safety of employees, consumers, and business partners. Luxury companies are dealing with urgent public-health needs: LVMH, the french luxury conglomerate that produced scarves and perfume now manufactures face masks and hand sanitizer check out the entire news, Indian luxury designers like Sabyasachi Mukherjee made monetary donations along with this, millions of people rely on the luxury apparel industry to make a living, from factory workers and retail-store employees to small-town artisans and craftsmen, industry leaders like Fashion Designs Council are planning ahead and wrestling with long-term strategic questions to ensure the survival of their businesses.
What does the future of the luxury market look like?
It’s well known from history, that each crisis leaves a long term impact and deadly novel coronavirus is no exception to the rule. The great depression led to a “waste not want not” attitude that dictated consumption patterns for years. In the same manner, the outbreak of coronavirus may move luxury consumers to assess things from a different perspective. From being reluctant to utilizing masks and sanitizers, there will be a paradigm shift in luxury fashion consumer behavior. The consumers, post lockdown will focus more on necessity and essentials rather than looking for luxury apparel and goods. The luxury brands after this will be left with no options but to go digital, as until the time there is no vaccination for the virus, fear is going to control people’s mind, there will no glamours fashion shows for some time instead the events would be streamed live at digital platforms, click on the link to know how the London Fashion Week is going to be all digital and gender-neutral for the first time ever- https://bit.ly/3cH5UQd
The pandemic will transform the way luxury consumers shop in the long-run and its implications on the marketers will be huge, following will be some of the major changes-
- Luxury consumers, in the long run, maybe willing to spend more on sustainable fashion brands that reflect their own values and beliefs which may also result in the promotion of ethical fashion. The luxury consumers may rethink and re-prioritize their fashion consumption to make it more responsive toward society as well as the environment.
- The luxury fashion brands may use this as an opportunity and get back to the market after lockdown with new business models and create collections that are authentic and responsible. In the future, the brands must be looking beyond the loud logo strategy.
- The luxury brands in the future will unravel what their brand stands for now and will re-think how they can serve the needs of affluent consumers and create more meaningful content to inspire, engage, and entice consumers.
- Looking at the severity of the situation, buying products online will soon become a practice, and to cope up with this online luxury buying may become a new norm reflecting the future of fashion, just like after demonetization digital mode of payments became frequent and normal.
- The luxury management courses will transform from enjoying classroom learnings to attending online sessions
- This pandemic will make online luxury shopping more attractive in the future, luxury brands will digitize the processes and upgrade their systems and technology further providing personalized experiences to the customers.
- For the luxury fashion designers although post lockdown the scale will, of course, be smaller but the bride, groom and their families will still adorn beautiful clothes to make wonderful memories.
- Designers may use their already designed spring-summer collection for 2020 in the next year for spring-summer collection 2021.
- Earlier it was speculated that by 2025, China would be taking lead in the luxury fashion market but now due to the pandemic new countries will emerge and the market ratio will most probably change, the luxury market won’t completely rely on China anymore.
- Luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Gucci, Prada, Lilly Pulitzer, Ralph Lauren, Fendi, and others are already making face masks and will continue to do so in the future, and this will become a part of the future of fashion, inspiring collections and creating latest fashion trends.
IKF Desk (Conclusion)
The luxury fashion industry remains hopeful to bounce back to earlier consumer levels after this pandemic ends, but it will take a little longer for the fashion world to get back to normal. The decline in the luxury brand‘s market will shift the dependence of sales from China to other countries now, making other countries the new future of fashion markets. The famous fashion designers are optimistic that the sales would quickly rebound, but they are utilizing this time to prepare themselves for the future by identifying the gaps, turning their weaknesses into strengths and strengths into distinctive competences. This pandemic may bring a major change in the luxury consumers’ mindset and the value system, the luxury brands that would work to understand this and adapt accordingly will surely turn out to be the new champions.
Would you still shop for luxury apparel and goods once the lockdown ends?
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