Navigating Your Fashion Career in a Pandemic
From being defined by seasonal fashion shows and launches to churning out new collections in-store and online both, the fashion industry used to be unstoppable. Then came the pandemic and halted the movement and the buzz like it did with every other aspect of our lives. But, this is life and soon the fashion industry picked up its pieces and resumed business in style.
So, today the fashion industry is slightly different from what we knew it as. It does still stand tall but there have been countless downfalls and revolutionizing changes, putting many fashion careers at stake. Professionals have been compelled to shift their business or work approaches, they are being forced to rethink their entire careers, and adapt to the new normal. But, as they say, there is light at the end of the tunnel and there are channels of comfort amidst the pandemic-led chaos too.
So, if you are someone who is or wants to be a part of the fashion industry and are feeling stuck right now, this one's for you. But, we’re not going to jump straight into the solutions without understanding how exactly the pandemic affected the fashion industry.
How has the Pandemic Affected the Fashion Industry? - Everything has moved digital
A common change that has taken over the global world in most industries is digitalization. As the physical distance between people widened and digital became the only platform for all kinds of transactions, the fashion industry too moved online. Many offline stores across the country shut and moved operations to the online front. More and more online businesses and stores began to open up and online marketing became the forefront.
- Green and sustainability is taking over
When the world shut down, people started to become more and more aware and mindful of their daily life practices and habits. They became aware of how much damage they had been causing to themselves and the world around them. Not to mention, the hike in natural disasters and weather shifts globally that only made some realizations more affirmative.
Source: Financial Times Suddenly, there was a surge in green movements and clean and sustainable fashion. Consumers started laying their preference on these choices and fashion brands started to cater to these needs. Less carbon footprint and more careful use of clothes became a trend. Well, it still is, and everyone is equally participating in it. More raw and organic fabrics and fashion ingredients are being preferred now, and more locally made items are being prioritized. - Side-hustles are taking the form
Since offline businesses started riding the train of unpredictability and the digital took over, there have been many job losses too. Some careers have become extinct while others were forced to step up and adapt to the many changes. While this has been happening, many people are also realizing the need for having a backup career - a side-hustle. Something that can sustain them during times when your main career path is filled with hindrances.
Say, if one is a fashion designer, their side-hustle for emergencies can be teaching designing online during the pandemic or maybe setting up a customized festive wear business. Side-hustles could be related to your main career or even something entirely different, something that is originally a hobby but can be pursued professionally on the side.
- Local and heritage craftsmanship is becoming the focus again
In India particularly, locally made products, sustaining the heritage and rich cultural elements have gained momentum since the pandemic struck. This has compelled the fashion industry to dig into our rich history and culture to pull back raw craftsmanship to the top again. This has made fusion fashion and simplicity trends that are here to stay. From consumers to exporters, everyone is taking interest in locally made and hand-crafted fashion that is also sustainable. Evidently, while some impacts of the pandemic on the fashion industry have been challenging and dark, some have also been positive and almost life-changing in the long run.
How Can You Move Forward?
Now that you know how the industry has changed, you need to know how you can move forward as a student or a professional both. What do you do next? Should you back off and change your career route altogether or keep going until you find the right way? Scroll below to seek the right answers.
- Start by future-proofing your fashion career
It’s a given fact by now that the current times are fickle. Now, we cannot control these changes and unpredictable revolutions but we can brace ourselves to be better prepared for them. That’s where future-proofing your career comes into play. Of course, this is an imperative and wise step for any and every career but especially for a creative career like fashion, which is already unpredictable in nature.
Upskilling, which means building and polishing your existing set of skills by learning new ones and re-pursuing the old ones, may seem insignificant at times. But we say, take it as an investment and not just as a chore. This is something that will pay off in the years to come and not necessarily immediately. Secondly, have a backup career option or just something that has the potential to become a side-hustle when need be. Say, as a fashion writer, you can probably pursue teaching or even marketing as a side-hustle. As a marketer, you can again pursue teaching or fashion illustration as a side-hustle.
- Make what the world wants and needs now
As a professional in the fashion domain, you’re bound to walk hand-in-hand with consumer behaviour and trends. It’s a cycle - what the consumers need or want become trends and then that’s what sets the tone for further consumer trends and vice-versa. In the current times though, these needs revolve around budget-friendly, couch-friendly fashion, locally made clothes, and of course, sustainable fashion.
Source: Harper's Bazaar So, if you’re working in the industry during this time, your work will have to revolve around these very needs and demands of the market. If you set off in a different direction that is no nowhere close to the consumer needs, then your career may fall flat very soon. It’s very important for you to gauge the market climate and its needs at every step in order to adapt and mould your career approach accordingly.
- Adopt the art of freelancing in fashion
Embrace flexibility and the ability to mould yourself to the needs of the time. Say, if you’re an employee and there are no opportunities for you at a given time, consider switching to freelancing. Why, you ask? Well, for starters, it needs an employer or a company to invest relatively less money, which saves them costs at a crucial time like this one.
This is one reason why many employers are switching from full-time employees to freelancers, where they have to shell out fewer costs. As a professional looking for a job at this point, you’ll only be able to sustain better if you switch to this work trend, where you gain the many perks of freelancing while also sustaining your career in some capacity for the time being.
- Make networking your best friend
Without having connections in and outside the industry, your career is close to nothing. In today’s day especially, many profits are made through word-of-mouth or formal networking. The more meaningful connections you make, the more presence you form in the industry, and the more referrals you will receive. Especially, in an uncertain economy, what really drives your success on many levels is your network. So, we say, tread slowly and mindfully but don’t forget to be hopeful and positive about the many challenges thrown your way.