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Denim Mills Prepare for a New Post-Pandemic Consumer

Denim mills are preparing to respond to the new world that will emerge from the pandemic with fabrics that put people and the environment first.

Biodegradable innovations, Cradle to Cradle-certified fabrics and new strategies to reduce waste and conserve natural resources are among the ways mills are scaling sustainability for Fall/Winter 21-22. And with a renewed focus on comfort and wellness sweeping across fashion, mills are ushering in new opportunities in stretch and antimicrobial fabrics—each designed to provide the end consumer peace of mind.

Here, Rivet caught up with executives from leading denim mills to find out how they are adjusting their production to better accommodate the values and concerns that they think will define the post-pandemic consumer.

Eric Hrdlicka, Foison Textile managing director, North America

While it’s still very much in flux, we think shopping habits will continue to increase online and e-commerce channels and brands. However, there is increased focus on service levels and quick turn on innovation and new products in support of all our brand partners. We are launching new collections under our Never Out Of Stock (NOOS) strategy for quick replenishment programs in line with our growing e-commerce customer base.

Francesca Polato, Berto marketing and communication manager

Consumer behavior will change for sure. Some people will search for special pieces, while others will keep buying basic and comfortable clothes. We have been locked in the house for a long time, wearing sweatshirts, leggings and sweatpants, so some of us will avoid uncomfortable fashionable clothes, and others will look forward to wearing something new and different. For this reason, we developed the fabric with Tencel and Lycra dualFX, as well as some new rigid and heavy proposals.

Alberto Candinai, owner of Candiani Denim

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We will have to reduce our production, for sure, and adjust to the impact of this lockdown. Of course, at Candiani we will try to do that without dismissing any employees because that is not our style, so we have to reconfigure our production around the new demand. A vast majority of brands are canceling the next season, even two seasons. These cancellations are a delicate topic for many in the industry. Still, the sooner you adapt to a new environment, the sooner you can seek new opportunities and new growth.

Bart Van de Woestyne, Prosperity creative director

It is clear that this pandemic has affected the whole supply chain and has made us re-think the future of denim. It is pushing us into a more ethical way of working and being more responsible. Less is more if it’s done right, without compromise. We are addressing this by continuing to focus on responsible development.

Mark Ix, Advance Denim director of marketing, North America

It is clear that COVID-19 will have dramatic effects on consumers and retailers going forward. Advance Denim is looking deeply into how we can support those changes and react to the new normal. The retail landscape will be forever changed, and Advance Denim is partnering with its customers to navigate these changes as best we can.

We realize that orders for the upcoming season have been affected, but we want to make sure that as business returns, we are giving our customers platforms to help rebuild their business. Advance Denim’s line of denims that are never out of stock will give our retail partners the option to ease back into production without the high minimums or long lead times.

Denim mills prepare for a new post-pandemic consumer.
Advance Denim Rivet

Pierette Scavuzzo, Cone director of denim product design

Perhaps the need for comfort, functionality and safety will shift what the consumer buys as well as how they buy. We hope to see sustainability and transparency at the forefront of consumer behaviors continue. Communication is much more important than ever.

Adriano Goldschmied, House of Gold founder

The new normal post-COVID-19 will be less quantity and better quality.

Tolga Ozkurt, Calik deputy general manager, sales and marketing

We think that the end consumer shopping behavior will change completely. This period is globally experienced as an awareness period. We think the world will evolve in conscious and sustainable consumption. Now, in the fashion world, we think that everyone has a little more time to see the results, as consumption has significantly slowed down globally. But it is certain that this result will evolve into a more digital and sustainable world.

Ebru Debbağ, Soorty executive director, marketing and sales

The COVID-19 has affected every single one of us very deeply. Since day one, we have been re-defining normal and it keeps on changing.

I forecast a future customer who will demand even further transparency on a fashion landscape that values creativity, people and environment all the same. All across the globe, we spend five hours clapping the incredible services of not only the heroes within the health industry. We do the same for food workers, grocery clerks, cashiers, warehouse staff, cargo and logistics employees. We have realized it took human effort to reach the things we take for granted. This was a strong reminder of systems, that things we consume day after day, are made by humans.

Anatt Finkler, Global Denim creative director

This is all very uncertain as we don’t know how much more this crisis will last, so we can’t see the real effects this is going to have in the world economy and how will it all unfold. What we know right now is that sales will go straight down, even when stores open again. Consumers won’t be in a buying mood. They will be more worried about fulfilling their most basic needs.

For now, we believe brands will skip Spring/Summer 2020 and save their orders for next spring. They will move straight into fall until the end of the year. The importance is to boost retail and to not spend too much time and effort on making more collections.

Denim mills prepare for a new post-pandemic consumer.
Global Denim Rivet

Aydan Tüzün, Naveena Denim Mills executive director of global sales and marketing

Awareness about where things come from and how they’re made will be more and more crucial. Sustainability is key for a healthy planet in the future, and as consumers start to realize this, an inevitable shift is happening in the fashion world.

Yucel Bayram, Kipas sales and marketing director

Times are not as they once were. Fear is becoming the new normal coupled with economic insecurity and geopolitical uncertainty. As the fear of the future continues to grow, consumers will look to businesses and brand propositions to make them feel secure.

We are on the verge of rebalancing and resetting a chaotic world. Together, we will rewrite the codes of creativity and re-engineer everything that surrounds us for a better future. Together we will find out a new sense of purpose for this new world order.

Haya Iqbal Ahmed, Artistic Fabric Mills director

We’re expecting two outcomes post COVID-19. First, we think the consumer will be exceedingly cautious, both of their exposure to the outside world and their spending in a recessionary climate. And second, a more hopeful and conscious consumer will come out of this, having lived through these times, and realizing the impact our actions have on the planet. We think consumers will try to find normalcy by spending on products that make them feel good—perhaps buying less but buying better.

May Lin, Twin Dragon COO

Consumers will advocate more transparency in their products in the post-COVID-19 world. They will demand better quality in what they choose to purchase as well. Consumers will also be more acutely aware of the environment around them and the demand for sustainable eco-friendly products will become even more elevated than it is now.

Zennure Danışman, Orta marketing and washing manager

We were talking about the need for action for so long and this will expedite actions hopefully. It will force the fashion industry to rethink about the supply chains, manufacturing processes and business values. It is time to rethink value for today’s eco-modern world.

Denim, the cultural icon, is in transition. It touches everybody. People say the pandemic has stopped life as normal. What is normal? Now, consumers have more time to think about what really is important. They are reevaluating their values around consumption and spending.

Consumers are feeling anxiety, denial and hope at the same time. They are not in the mood of buying, but they have more time to think. It took a pandemic to remind us that we are all connected, and that our health and happiness is dependent on that of others. More than ever, now is the time to be more social.

Fashion is part of this transition and will only grow in an environment that is thriving. That environment is not only the earth and climate change; it also includes the ecosystems of business, fashion, manufacturing and retail. At Orta, we are embracing ‘digital closeness’ that is enabling a new level of personalization in our communications and business practices.

For more from denim mills, check out In Season: F/W 21-22 Denim & Trims Look Book. Click here to download.