Fashion has found its footing on the road to recovery, according to wholesale management platform Joor. The firm’s latest survey of global fashion players revealed that more than two-fifths brands are achieving sales volumes equal to or greater than pre-pandemic levels.
In line with those positive trends, the vast majority of brands (90 percent) indicated eagerness to present new collections for the spring-summer 2022 season. That spells good news for product-strapped retailers, 86 percent of which have furnished less than half of their current assortment through carryover items from seasons past. To scout out new wares, 92 percent of buyers plan on attending market appointments this summer, with open-to-buy budgets equal to or greater than pre-Covid amounts. Twenty percent of buyers plan to spend more this summer than they did in 2019.
While consumer appetites are returning, the propensity for brands and buyers to conduct business in the flesh may be slower to pick up. The events of 2020 pushed many of the retail sector’s critical functions online—including buying and selling. That trend stands to persist, with both brands and retailers opting to transact heavily on virtual platforms throughout the selling season. The industry’s “new normal” will consist of a hybridized model of virtual selling to support in-person appointments, Joor said.
Almost all brands (98 percent) plan to use virtual selling, while 89 percent of buyers said they would use virtual buying to furnish their assortments. Of the brands that plan to host physical buying meetings this summer, 80 percent will do so at showrooms, while 42 percent plan to return to trade shows.
“Amidst the many challenges of the past year, the fashion industry has demonstrated its flexibility and fortitude, rapidly adjusting ways of doing business and accelerating digital adoption,”Joor CEO Kristin Savilia said in a statement.
“While brands and retailers are keen to return to in-person showroom appointments,” she added, “neither group is willing to give up the efficiency and extended reach of virtual selling.”
The trend toward transacting online doesn’t mean retailers are simply looking to reorder from known brands, however. According to Joor’s data, the number of new connections forged between brands and retailers has increased 40 percent in 2021, with 85 percent of buyers indicating a medium-to-high interest in discovering new labels. The most prominent driver behind the appetite for newness is a desire to offer shoppers something they haven’t seen before, Joor said. Retailers are also looking to keep up with the latest trends, with a keen eye toward sustainable products (28 percent) and goods made by diverse brands (20 percent).
Last May, amid halts to global business and the cancellation of industry trade shows, Joor launched its digital Passport Program to help bring those markets online. The centralized platform helped 17 global trade shows, from Premium Berlin to London Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week, Liberty Fairs and more during 2020. The platform connected over 8,600 brands and more than 200,000 curated fashion retailers in 144 countries, aiding in the sale of more than 500,000 items, Joor’s data showed.
“Taking a backwards look, brands and retailers focused exclusively on B2C technology at the expense of B2B,” Savilia told Sourcing Journal in January, noting that they tended to prioritize in-store tech investments over digitizing their buying and selling processes. But after a year of disruptions to those functions, fashion players have fully bought into the concept. All 17 of the company’s event partners signed on to work with Joor again this year, and 13 new trade shows joined the Passport Program in January.