We all know what an enormous impact COVID-19 had on the global fashion industry. During the early months of the pandemic, government shut downs and quarantine regulations closed brick and mortar retail stores around the world and consumers stuck at home had little reason to invest in new wardrobe pieces. Demand for clothing and apparel plummeted and some well-known brands were forced to either file for bankruptcy or permanently close many of their store locations. But those weren’t the only changes. As the months went on with no end to the pandemic in sight, trends that were present prior to the initial outbreak accelerated rapidly, and now almost a year later, seem to be here for the long term. Some of these trends were highlighted in a recent series of Cotton Day industry seminars hosted by COTTON USA in 10 of the top cotton markets in the world:
- E-commerce is essential – the most resilient companies were those that were able to meet their customers where they were, which was most likely online. Companies that were able to utilize and develop robust e-commerce platforms were the ones that thrived. Now that most of us have experienced the convenience of shopping online and picking up in stores, can we really imagine going back to our old shopping ways?
- Dress casual to impress – there were very few occasions over the past year that called for any sort of formal attire. We worked, socialized, and even got married in own homes over virtual platforms such as Zoom. In these stressful times many of us opted for more casual, comfortable clothing. While athleisure wear has been popular for quite some time now, the pandemic may have finally made it acceptable work attire.
- Delivering value is key – more than ever consumers expect quality and value from the products they purchase, and they have options. To survive in the new retail environment, companies need to listen to their consumers and find new ways to deliver value.
The last point is crucial. Consumers not only want value, they want innovation. They want to shop safely and conveniently, and they want clothing they can feel good about, which means sustainable and free from forced labor. The bad news? They aren’t willing to pay more for it. Brands and retailers, mills and manufacturers and all of us in the industry need to find new ways to emphasize value and provide consumers with more for less.
So how can U.S. cotton help?
Studies show that U.S. cotton can have significant financial advantages compared to cotton of other origins and can help companies increase their profitability . To find out how, look no further than COTTON USA SOLUTIONS®, the world’s leading cotton consultancy. Customers of U.S. cotton now have access to valuable resources such as mill studies, technical seminars, and COTTON USA MILL MASTERY™ courses. Backed by hard data and over 200 years of experience working in over 1,500 mills in 50 countries, COTTON USA SOLUTIONS® provides U.S. cotton customers with the latest technical information on all areas of cotton to help boost mill efficiency and improve productivity. Companies looking to go even further can discover innovative techniques to improve their business by scheduling a consultation with a COTTON USA SOLUTIONS® mill expert. One-on-one mill visits may save you 10 – 25 percent! Better yet, these services are complimentary to COTTON USA™ licensees – a great value indeed.
Customers of U.S. cotton can also be sure that their products are made of some of the most sustainable, trusted cotton in the world. With quantifiable and verifiable goals and measurements, the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol is setting a new standard for sustainability. Customers of Protocol cotton will rest easy knowing their products are sustainably grown with low environmental and social risks. Using U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol cotton gives you confidence in your supply chain and more time to focus on your customers.
The future of retail is still uncertain. The rollout of the vaccine is reason for optimism, but as the pandemic drags on there are less reasons to believe things will ever “go back to normal.” U.S. cotton and COTTON USA services are here to help you as you adapt to and succeed in the “new normal.”