The past year challenged global structures, especially regarding necessary rapid environmental progress and the lack of secure social protection schemes: COVID-19 hit the industry unprecedently, demanding real-time actions and long-term sight. Industry players had to shift focus on job re-creation and the fair distribution of risks and profits along the value chain. In addition, long-standing systemic racism and the Black Lives Matter movement called for racial equity and dignity for marginalised and black communities.
If we fail to take coordinated action on the greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change, we can expect to see increasingly common crises such as heatwaves or rising sea levels damage complex ecosystems that are vital to our future.1 These systemic issues are apparent in the reality of climate change, exemplifying an intersectional environmental crisis that is set to produce socioeconomic impacts over the coming years, foremost affecting marginalised communities and people of colour. Fashion leaders are urged to focus their efforts on diversity, equity and inclusivity along the value chain to positively contribute to a just society and communities globally.
When picturing a post-pandemic fashion industry, it is not built from scratch but inspired by existing tools and technologies that will move from ideation to reality and from pilots to wide-scale adoption. Some shifts such as production to demand, increased product lifetime values, a less season-dependent design and product flow, textile-to-textile recycling or resale will be accelerated, while long-known best practices such as collaborative partnerships between all stakeholders in the value chain may become building blocks of business operations. Placing value-driven practices at the core of business will enhance capabilities for change management, allowing headway in the transformation of potential financial, social and environmental risks into untapped business opportunities and points of engagement with suppliers, customers and the investment community.